source: The Guardian
published: 8 October 2014
A building worker from Texas, who was sentenced to death for a murder he did not commit, was released on Wednesday after spending nine years in prison, four of them on death row.
Manuel Velez, 49, emerged from Huntsville prison a free man at 11.32pm CT. He was arrested in 2005, and sentenced to death three years later, for killing a one-year-old who was partially in his care.
But over the years the conviction unravelled. Tests on the victim’s brain showed that Velez could not have caused the child’s head injuries. Further evidence revealed that the defendant, who is intellectually disabled, had suffered from woeful legal representation at trial, and that the prosecutor had acted improperly to sway the jury against him.
Brian Stull, a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who has represented Velez since 2009, said that “an innocent man went to death row because the entire system failed him.