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Randal Padgett

Exoneree Name

State: Alabama

Convicted: 1992

Exonerated: 1997

Race: Caucasian

DNA used in exoneration? No

Reasons for wrongful conviction:

False or misleading forensic evidence

Prosecutorial misconduct


Randal's Wrongful Conviction

Randal Padgett had a degree from Jacksonville State University and was a successful businessman with no prior criminal record. But then in 1992, he was convicted for the rape and murder of his estranged wife Cathy. The judge overruled the jury’s recommendation of life in prison to give Randal a death sentence. The case against Randal was based almost completely on tainted DNA evidence. In 1995, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the conviction, as the state failed to reveal discrepancies in the blood tests that would have aided in Randal’s defense.

In preparation for a second trial, Randal’s family hired a new lawyer, Richard Jaffe, known for providing strong defense for prisoners on death row. The attorney emphasized that more evidence existed incriminating a co-worker, with whom Randal had an affair. In October 1997, Randal was acquitted of all charges.

Randal spent three years on Alabama's death row and another two years in prison for this crime he did not commit before being exonerated in 1997.

Randal's Work Today

Today, Randal lives in Alabama with his wife Brenda, who supported him during his fight for freedom. He credits his strong religious faith in sustaining him through his ordeal, and loves speaking to college students and communities of faith. He is driven by quiet dignity and determined passion to see the death penalty abolished in the country he loves.

Randal is a Peer Specialist at Witness to Innocence, which he notes he enjoys "because I get to stay in frequent contact with like-minded people and people who went through what I went through."

Because of Randal’s experience, he expresses wariness toward the simple way many Americans view the criminal justice system. Prior to his own sentencing, Randal had assumed innocent people were never convicted. “In the good ol’ U.S. of A., I thought that during a trial the truth was foremost and the court endeavors to seek the facts. That isn’t the case. Innocent people are convicted, and once you’re convicted, it’s difficult to find anyone willing to believe otherwise.”

This has driven Randal to try to educate as many people as he can about the flaws of the criminal justice system and just how easy it is to be innocent and still convicted. He sees it as his calling to not only advocate for death penalty abolition, but to enlighten people he strikes up conversation with on the street, in the grocery store, or anywhere else -- who he views as prospective jurors -- to keep an open mind. He also advocates for compensation for the wrongfully convicted.

Randal loves the outdoors and spends time outside as much as he can. He has eight goats and six chickens to provide him with fresh eggs. Publications: Execution’s Doorstep: True Stories of the Innocent and Near Damned

  • Written by Leslie Lytle

  • Profiles the stories of Randal Padgett and Ron Keine

  • "Journalist Lytle brings the capital punishment debate into sharp focus with her account of five men wrongly convicted and sentenced to death but later freed."

  • Contact Ron Keine at RonKeine[at] to purchase a book at a discounted rate.

  • "Richard Jaffe explores the problems of the American death penalty system through his experience as a capital defense attorney in Alabama."

  • Jaffe secured the release of both Randal Padgett and Gary Drinkard.

In The Media:

#ImLivingProof... that we send the innocent to die.


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