Western Oregon University will host two Witnesses to Innocence on March 7. Juan Roberto Meléndez-Colón and Greg Wilhoit spent a combined 23 years of their lives on death row before being exonerated. They will be touring several Oregon universities, concluding with a visit to WOU. This event begins at 7 p.m. in room 105 of the Health and Wellness Center and is free and open to the public.
Meléndez-Colón spent 17 years, eight months and one day on Florida’s death row for a crime he did not commit. The crime in Juan’s case was particularly brutal. The victim, Delbert Baker (a white man), was shot three times and his throat was slashed, leaving the crime scene drenched in blood. Meléndez-Colón, who could not afford an attorney, was convicted and sentenced to death within a week even though there was no physical evidence against him. Since his release from death row on January 3, 2002, Juan has shared his story of supreme injustice, survival and hope with tens of thousands of people in the United States, Canada and Europe. Read full story.
Greg Wilhoit from Tulsa, Oklahoma spent five years of his life on death row for a crime he didn’t
commit. Though he received a full exoneration in 1993, his life remains a struggle. Wilhoit’s wife, Kathy, was found brutally murdered in her apartment on June 1, 1985. This left Wilhoit alone to raise his daughters Kimberly and Kristen, ages four and 14 months at the time. Almost a year later he was arrested and charged with Kathy’s murder. The case against him was based on the statements of so-called dental experts – barely out of dental school – claiming that a bite mark found on Kathy’s body matched Greg’s teeth. Read full story.
On behalf of Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, the WOU Criminal Justice Association, the WOU Communication Club and Communication Studies Department sponsor this event. For disability accommodation, please contact the Office of Disability Services at firstname.lastname@example.org at least 72 hours in advance of the event.
Criminal Justice Association: Sierra Schlundt (email@example.com) & Spencer Campbell (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Communication Club & Communication Studies Department: Michael Calhoun (email@example.com) & Emily Plec (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (OADP) Ron Steiner (email@example.com)