A woman who spent 17 years behind bars for the murder of a homeless man in California was exonerated Friday by a Los Angeles County judge.
California Innocence Project
client Susan Mellen, now 59, was convicted of planning the murder of her former boyfriend, Richard Daly, over items he allegedly stole from her mother’s house. NBCLA-Southern California reported that Judge Mark Arnold ordered Millen’s immediate release and dismissed the case. She walked out of the courtroom a free woman by 6 p.m. that evening and celebrated with her three children.
“This is the greatest miracle ever,” Mellen said, according to NBCLA-Southern California. “I’m just so excited; I don’t know what to say. I’m overwhelmed. It’s just so amazing, this is huge.”
Mellen maintained her innocence since the very beginning and told police repeatedly that she had nothing to do with Daly’s murder. Despite witnesses’ testimony in support of her alibi for the time of the murder, Mellen was convicted in 1998 based primarily on the testimony of what the judge called “a habitual liar.”
“I told the judge the day I got sentenced that one day God would bring the truth to the light,” she said to NBCLA-Southern California.
In 2009 the California Innocence Project began interviewing people who knew Daly and Mellen and who could have had information about the murder. Last year, Innocence Matters worked with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office to reexamine evidence from the case. The evidence pointed to three known gang members, one of which told investigators that Mellen had nothing to do with Daly’s murder.