Exoneree Inspires Students in New York
Fernando Bermudez, who was freed in November after serving 18 years in New York prisons for a murder evidence shows he didn’t commit, addressed 200 students at Ardsley High School in Westchester, NY, yesterday. The audience, which included the school’s forensic science, criminal justice and other classes, heard first-hand how the justice system failed Bermudez.
According to the Journal News
, Bermudez told the students:
“I believed that the truth would set me free at trial. I honestly believed that,” Bermudez, 41, said Tuesday to students at Ardsley High School. “I believed in the American justice system, but I lost and sunk deeper into the system.”
Bermudez said prosecutors rely too heavily on unreliable eyewitness testimony, even when there is little supporting evidence.
Students questioned why prosecutors ignored three friends of Bermudez who testified that he was not involved in the incident.
“Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough,” Bermudez said.
He told the students about his case and told them that they should always guard their rights. His speech was inspiring to students and emotional for others who were angry to learn that the criminal justice can fail in such a profound way.
Bermudez was convicted in 1992 of shooting a teenager outside a New York City nightclub in 1991. In November, a judge today tossed out his conviction and charges saying he had proved his actual innocence.
Questionable eyewitness testimony led to his wrongful conviction, and the Innocence Project filed friend-of-the-court briefs in his case, highlighting the problematic identifications.
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