Friday, October 10, 2014
Los Angeles woman freed after spending 17 years in prison for murder she didn't commit
After 17 very long years of proclaiming her innocence, a Los Angeles woman was finally freed Friday by a judge who ordered her immediate release from behind bars.
"I believe that not only is Ms. Mellen not guilty, based on what I have read, I believe she is innocent," said Superior Court Judge Mark Arnold. "For that reason, I believe in this case the justice system failed."
Susan Mellen wept as the judge spoke, as did her grown children seated in the courtroom.
Then applause erupted.
The poignant moment culminated nearly two decades of battling for her freedom. Mellen was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for the 1997 killing of a homeless man named Richard Daly.
Mellen had once dated the man.
Deidre O'Connor, who investigated Mellen's case for Innocence Matters, said her murder trial was completely based on the testimony of a woman who was notorious for giving bad tips to police.
June Patti, who died in 2006, testified she heard Mellen confess to the murder.
But three gang members were later linked to the killing, and one was ultimately convicted of the crime.
Mellen's children were age 7 and 9 when she was sent away.
"Although each member of this family suffered tremendously, they remain a close family unit," O'Connor said.
With News Wire Services