Innocent Man Serves 20 Years in Nevada; Now Florida Wants 3 More

Friday, 22 Mar 2013 03:28 PM

By Michael Mullins

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After spending more than 20 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit, Fred Steese is now facing three more years behind bars in Florida for a parole violation that occurred more than a quarter century ago.

In 1992, Steese was convicted of the murder of Gerard Soules, a Las Vegas entertainer, and sentenced to life in prison, reported CBS News Las Vegas affiliate KLAS-TV.

Steese spent the next two decades fighting his conviction until 8th Judicial District Court Judge Elissa Cadish sided with his appeal late last year, largely due to new evidence showing Steese was out-of-state when the murder was committed.

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"Given everything additional that we now know, I am finding that it is more likely than not no reasonable juror would've found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt," said Cadish.

"Finally, after 20 years, I got found innocent," Steese said then. "I knew from the beginning that I was innocent, so I just kept fighting until somebody listened. Judge (Elissa) Cadish, she listened and made the right ruling."

Cadish's decision, however, didn't remove all obstacles to Steese's freedom. He remains in a Nevada detention center awaiting disposition of 3-year sentence in Florida for a parole violation from more than 25 years ago.

"He was convicted in Florida," said Jane Tillman of the Florida Parole Commission. "He was released and placed in supervision to follow as part of his sentence. He absconded, he never showed up for his supervision and therefore he's being brought back to the state of Florida to serve 1,189 days with the Florida Department of Corrections."

Florida has until early April to transport Steese, which according to CBS News will cost the state approximately $50,000 in transportation and housing fees for the next three years. If Florida does not extradite him by then, Steese will be able to go free.

"I've already done 20 years for something I didn't do and now I got to go to Florida for three years. C'mon," Steese told KLAS-TV in a jailhouse interview.

In New York City, a man was freed Thursday afternoon after serving more than two decades in prison for the killing of a rabbi during a botched diamond heist. A judge called his conviction a miscarriage of justice.

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Brooklyn prosecutors recommended that David Ranta’s conviction be tossed out after a onetime witness said he had been coached into identifying the suspect in a police lineup, according to CNN. He had been convicted of shooting Chaskel Werzberger during the attempted robbery of a diamond courier in Brooklyn in 1991.

Related stories:

Outgoing Governor Signs Pardons for Wilmington 10

Casey Anthony's Guilt Not Proved

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