A California woman will be exonerated and released after spending 17 years in prison for a crime she didn’t commit, her lawyer says.
The Los Angeles district attorney’s office says it will not oppose a request to throw out Susan Mellen’s 1997 murder conviction.
Mellen was convicted of the killing her boyfriend, Richard Daly, and setting his body on fire based almost entirely on eyewitness testimony from June Patti, a woman whose family warned police that she was a pathological liar, according to KTTV.
Patti claimed Mellen confessed to Daly’s murder. Mellen was sentenced to life without parole.
When Patti died years later, it was revealed that she had made hundreds of false reports on other people and was involved in about 2,000 cases. Five years before Mellen’s conviction, a Torrence narcotic investigator deemed Patti an “unreliable informant” whose tops were “exaggerated and to some extent untruthful,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
“June needed to occupy the center stage and nothing helps like claiming to be a victim or a witness,” said Keith Tyne, director of the Skagit County public defender’s office.
Mellen’s case was taken up by a project known as Innocence Matters. Mellen’s attorney Deirdre O’Connor says paperwork will be filed Friday to clear the way for her release.
She informed Mellen’s two children, who are now adults, that their mother is expected to be released.
“It was the best news I’ve ever had in my life,” said Jessica Melon, 26. “This morning I woke up and I was excited but nervous. I just feel like until she walks out that door it’s not going to be real.”