Randy Steidl, who was nearly executed for a crime he didn't commit and went on to become the public face of the abolition of the death penalty in Illinois, will tell his story during visits to Indiana University campuses in Bloomington and Indianapolis.
Steidl will present his lecture, "Convicted, Condemned and Cleared: How an Exonerated Man Helped Abolish the Illinois Death Penalty" at noon April 12 in the Indiana University Maurer School of Law Moot Court Room.
He will present the same lecture at Indiana University Purdue University – Indianapolis at 7 p.m. April 14 in the IUPUI Campus Center, Room 450C.
After the talk at IUPUI, a panel will discuss whether the death penalty is good public policy. Panelists will include Jim White, a former Indiana state trooper and current faculty member in School of Public and Environmental Affairs’ Criminal Justice and Public Safety program; Monica Foster, an internationally known criminal defense attorney who specializes in capital appeals; and Crystal Garcia, a criminologist and faculty member in SPEA's Criminal Justice and Public Safety program.
Steidl spent 17 years in prison, including 12 on death row, after he was convicted in the 1986 murder of two newlyweds in Southern Illinois. According to Witness to Innocence, an organization of exonerated death-row survivors and their loved ones, he received poor legal representation, no DNA evidence was presented in the case, and witnesses fabricated evidence because of police misconduct.
A federal judge ordered a new trial for Steidl in 2003 after the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University got involved and an Illinois State Police investigation cast doubt on the conduct during the murder investigation and trial. The state re-investigated the case, tested DNA evidence and found no link to Steidl, and the state decided against retrying the case.
Steidl left prison in May 2004, becoming the 18th person to go free after serving time on Illinois' death row for a wrongful conviction. He speaks out against the death penalty to state legislatures and civic organizations and on college campuses.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation abolishing the death penalty earlier this month.