Tags: susan mellen | freed | murder | 17 years

Susan Mellen Freed After Serving 17 Years for a Murder She Didn't Commit

By    |   Monday, 13 Oct 2014 09:29 AM

Susan Mellen, who has spent the last 17 years in a California prison for a murder she says she didn't commit, was set free Friday after the reliability of the only witness against her was called into question.

A Los Angeles County district court judge called Mellen's conviction "a failure of the criminal justice system" in ordering her release, according to KTLA-TV. The 59-year-old stepped out of the courthouse in Torrance shortly before 6 p.m., did a happy dance, and hugged her grandchild for the first time, The Associated Press reported.

"We're going to have a new beginning," Mellen, of Gardena, California, told reporters. She had been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, noted the television station.

Mellen was accused of beating ex-boyfriend Richard Daly to death in 1997 after his body was set on fire in an alley in San Pedro, according to the Los Angeles Times. Prosecutors pegged the case on the testimony of June Patti, who claimed that Mellen confessed the murder to her. Mellen was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

But jurors were never told that Patti had a history of giving false tips and testimony to police and, before the Mellen case, had been considered an unreliable informant for nearly five years.

Patti's sister, a Torrance police officer, even called her a pathological liar and told detectives investigating Daly's murder not to "believe anything she has to say," according to the Times.

Deirdre O'Connor, of the Innocence Project, took up Mellen's case last November and interviewed one of the three suspected gang members originally targeted by police in Daly's murder. O'Connor said, according to court filings reviewed by the Times, that one of them admitted during a polygraph test that Mellen was never at the scene of Daly's death. The county then decided to officially review the case.

The review led to the district prosecutor's office deciding not to challenge O'Connor's motion for Mellen's release.

"I believe she is innocent," Superior Court Judge Mark Arnold said, according to the AP. "For that reason I believe in this case the justice system failed."

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Susan Mellen, who has spent the last 17 years in a California prison for a murder she says she didn't commit, was set free Friday after the reliability of the only witness against her was called into question.
susan mellen, freed, murder, 17 years
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2014-29-13
Monday, 13 Oct 2014 09:29 AM
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