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Review for Innocence Matters, Torrance, CA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

I am very thankful that Innocence Matters is working to protect the rights of those who have been wrongly accused and convicted of a crime. The work that Innocence Matters did in order to free Susan Marie Mellen from 17 years of incarceration in a California state prison is nothing less than heroic.

Susan Mellen was falsely accused of a 1997 murder, that had occurred in Lawndale California. Her accuser's name was June Patti, a meth head and habitual liar. While all the evidence was pointing to three gang members as the perpetrators of the crime, the LAPD detective on the case, Marcella Winn, began to build a case against Mellen based on this one accusation from a lying meth head who was known to several local law enforcement agencies as an unreliable witness. Winn knew this about Patti, but kept the information out of official records, so neither the prosecuting attorney nor the defense attorney knew the truth about June Patti and her lying ways. To say that Winn was lazy and performed her sworn duty in a substandard way is an understatement. Her work in the case of Richard Daly was criminal, or at least should be. Because of her laziness neither Rick Daly nor Susan Mellen received justice, and Susan's family was ripped apart.

To heep injury upon injury, Mellen’s attorney, a divorce attorney with little trial experience, and who had been reprimanded by the bar association for providing his clients with sketchy legal representation, did next to no investigation work before the trial, and during trial provided Mellen with substandard representation. It looked as though no one was there for Susan, and the result was that she was convicted and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

Innocence Matters took Susan’s case in November 2013, and within three months was able to apply for Habeas Corpus on behalf of Ms. Mellen. Finally after the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office performed their own investigation into the case, they recommended that Susan Mellen be released from her hell. Susan Mellen was ordered released by a Torrance Superior Court judge, Mark Arnold, on October 9, 2014. Upon releasing her, Judge Arnold remarked that in Susan's case, "the criminal justice system failed".

Without the help of Innocence Matters, Susan Mellen may have died in prison having never realized justice in her case. Innocence Matters got Susan some justice, and that makes them heroes in my book.

Role:  General Member of the Public