|October 8, 2014 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||Contact: Deirdre O’Connor Cell: (310) 780-4522|
SUSAN MELLEN IS SCHEDULED TO APPEAR BEFORE JUDGE MARK ARNOLD, DEPT. G, TORRANCE COURTHOUSE AT 8:30 A.M. ON OCTOBER 10, 2014
TORRANCE, CA. – On Friday, October 10, 2014, the Los Angeles County District Attorney is expected to concede the merits of Susan Mellen’s Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Innocence Matters on September 18. Ms. Mellen will walk out a free woman after 17 years of imprisonment for a murder she did not commit.
In 1998, based solely on the word of a notorious liar, Ms. Mellen was wrongfully convicted of first degree murder with special circumstances and was sentenced to life without parole. After the verdict was read, Ms. Mellen pleaded with the court: “I’m totally innocent. And, I mean I wish you guys could believe me and know in my heart and soul and know I’m innocent. With God’s hands upon me now, I’m innocent!”
For seventeen years, Ms. Mellen professed her innocence to no avail.
In November 2013, Innocence Matters began investigating Ms. Mellen’s case and, within a few months, brought evidence of Ms. Mellen’s innocence to the attention of the Los Angeles District Attorney Habeas Litigation Unit (HABLIT). Fortunately for Ms. Mellen, the HABLIT Head Deputy Steven Katz and Deputy-in-Charge Judith Pettigrew acted quickly and assigned the case to Loren Naiman, Deputy District Attorney, for a careful review. Naiman was soon joined by District Attorney Investigators Albert “Joe” Vita and David Jones. Their very thorough investigation quickly confirmed Ms. Mellen’s innocence.
During her seventeen-year incarceration, Ms. Mellen lost precious time with her three children; her youngest two were only 7 and 9 years old when Ms. Mellen was arrested. Although each member of this family suffered tremendously, they remain a close family unit. The “kids” are overjoyed by the news of their mother’s anticipated exoneration and are anxious to make up for lost time.
Innocence Matters is particularly interested in improving the quality of indigent defense services and implementing systemic changes that will better protect the innocent and encourage the legal community to more quickly acknowledge and correct errors. It is dedicated to preventing wrongful convictions through education, prevention and reform. To further those efforts, each year Innocence Matters bestows the Courageous Truth Award on somebody who has taken extraordinary steps to bring light to the truth despite opposition and whose story inspires others. This year, Ms. Mellen’s daughter, Jessica Besch, was honored for her bravery in securing a confession from someone who assisted the true murderer. More information is available at http://www.innocencematters.org.