Convicted: April 15, 1997
Exonerated: June 6, 2001
DNA used in exoneration? No
Reasons for wrongful conviction:
Joaquin's Wrongful Conviction
Joaquin Martinez was acquitted on June 6, 2001 after spending four years in prison for a crime he did not commit, making him the first Spanish citizen to be exonerated from U.S. death row.
Joaquin's case is a textbook example of prosecutorial misconduct. He was arrested in January 1996 for a double murder in Florida and was convicted and sentenced to death on April 15, 1997. This conviction was overturned by the Florida Supreme Court due to misconduct in presenting evidence that prejudiced the jury and improper statements by a police detective at trial, stating he believed Joaquin was guilty.
During Joaquin's retrial, key prosecution witnesses changed their stories and recanted their testimony; the informants all admitted that detectives had promised them rewards for implicating Joaquin. Additionally, a key piece of evidence – an audio tape of alleged incriminating statements made by Joaquin – was now ruled inadmissible. The tape was so inaudible that the first jury had been provided a transcript; it was discovered the transcript had been edited by the victim’s father, who was manager of the sheriff’s office evidence room at the time of the murder. After these gross incidences of misconduct were exposed and the defense introduced new alibi testimony in the retrial, Joaquin was acquitted of all charges.
Joaquin's case gained international attention during his time wrongfully incarcerated, particularly in his home country of Spain. The Pope, the King of Spain, and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar were all actively involved.
Joaquin's Work Today
Joaquin now lives in Spain and campaigns for the abolition of capital punishment on a global scale. “We have come a long way. I think it’s incredible how much has been achieved in the 12 years since I was released,” Joaquin noted. Yet he maintains committed to the fight for abolition until it is fully achieved.
For more information, visit Joaquin's website (in Spanish).
In The Media:
2.27.19 Former death row inmate urges end to death penalty
3.21.19 The Brief: from death row to the European Parliament
4.27.19 Dos activistas que se libraron de la pena de muerte relataron el peligro de esta sentencia
10.21.19 Exonerated from Death Row, men will ask Gov. DeSantis to cancel scheduled execution
10.22.19 Death row exonerees deliver letter to governor's office to block execution of Vietnam vet
10.22.19 Death row exonerees ask DeSantis to spare James Dailey's life
10.22.19 Death row exonerees ask governor to spare James Dailey
10.22.19 Group pushing Gov. DeSantis to keep veteran off death row
10.23.19 Lograron salir del corredor de la muerte. Ahora abogan por condenado a la pena capital en Florida
10.23.19 Sunrise Podcast
10.23.19 Survivors of Florida's Death Row Deliver Message to DeSantis: 'Don’t Kill James Dailey'
10.23.19 Death row exonerees ask DeSantis to halt execution