Freed death row inmate tells his story

Juan Roberto Melendez was freed from death row in 2002. He'll share his story at 7 p.m. Feb. 20 at UMSL. (Photo by Voices United for Justice)

For nearly 18 years, Juan Roberto Melendez lived on borrowed time. He was sentenced to death row for the 1983 murder of a Florida businessman. From the outset, Melendez denied committing the crime. Another man actually confessed to the killing.

Nearly two decades later new evidence poked holes in Melendez’s conviction. He was freed from death row on January 3, 2002.

Now, Melendez travels around the world recounting his story and speaking out against the death penalty and wrongful convictions. He’ll tell his story at 7 p.m. on Feb. 20 in Century Room C at the Millennium Student Center at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

Melendez’s story of survival, faith and hope will resonate with people whatever their opinions on the death penalty.

Attendees will also learn about the case of Reginald Clemons, who’s been on Missouri’s death row for 20 years. His supporters argue that a flawed investigation and trial leaves a massive amount of doubt about Clemons’ guilt.

Clemons was sent to death row as an accomplice in the murder of two women in St. Louis in 1991, on the testimony alone of two witnesses and without any physical evidence, according to a profile of his case on Amnesty International’s website. Clemons has always maintained his innocence.  One of his co-defendants has already been executed. In 2009, the Missouri Supreme Court stayed Clemons’ execution and appointed a Special Master to take a second look at the case. He has a new hearing in March.

The event is sponsored by Amnesty International-UMSL and Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. For more information visit


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