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Juan Melendez

State: Florida

Convicted: 1984

Exonerated: 2002

Race: Hispanic

DNA used in exoneration? No

 

Reasons for wrongful conviction:

Perjury or false accusation

Prosecutorial misconduct

Juan's Wrongful Conviction

 

Juan Roberto Meléndez-Colón spent 17 years, eight months, and one day on Florida’s death row for a crime he did not commit, before being exonerated in 2002.

 

The crime in Juan’s case was particularly brutal. The victim was Delbert Baker, a white man, who was shot three times and his throat slashed, leaving the crime scene drenched in blood.

 

Juan, who could not afford an attorney, was convicted and sentenced to death within a week, even though there was no physical evidence against him. Had it not been for the fortuitous discovery of a transcript of the taped confession of the real killer 16 years after Juan was sentenced to death, he almost certainly would have been executed. Ultimately, it came to light that the prosecutor had systematically withheld exculpatory evidence.

 

Juan's Work Today

 

Juan now lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with his partner, Judi Caruso, a board member of Witness to Innocence.

 

Since his release from death row, Juan has shared his story with tens of thousands of people in the United States, Canada, and Europe. His story is featured in the internationally-acclaimed documentary, Juan Meléndez 6446

 

When asked why he is tireless in his efforts to educate the public on the death penalty, Juan responds, “I have no choice. I left a lot of good people behind in there and they’re killing them. I owe it to them, and I will not stop until we have abolished the death penalty in every corner of this nation!”

 

In The Media:

 

8.3.15 Loss of innocence: the experience of exonerated death row inmates

11.30.16 'What happened to me could happen to anyone'; two former death-row inmates share their experiences

4.12.17 Wrongly-convicted Death Row inmate returns to Bay Area to speak out against the Death Penalty

4.29.18 Death penalty should remain relic in New Mexico

9.24.18 Death row exoneree Juan Melendez speaks at UNM

12.28.18 Science offers scrutiny

3.7.19 Citing flaws in Colorado’s criminal justice system, lawmakers move to repeal the death penalty

4.15.19 UNLV students hear exonerated ex-death row inmate’s warning

4.25.19 Exonerados de la pena capital culpan al racismo en EE.UU. de esas sentencias

4.27.19 Dos activistas que se libraron de la pena de muerte relataron el peligro de esta sentencia

8.20.19 Exonerated death row inmate has more to smile about

10.22.19 Gov. DeSantis, don’t risk executing an innocent veteran

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

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