"Princeton Meets Perseverance: The Fernando Bermudez 18-Year Innocent Prisoner Story," March 6
Fernando Bermudez, who was wrongfully convicted of murder in 1992 and served 18 years in prison until proven innocent in 2009, will bring his life story to the Princeton University campus for a discussion at the Woodrow Wilson School on Wednesday, March 6, 2013, at 4:30 p.m., Dodds Auditorium, Robertson Hall.
Bermudez was the accused gunman in a 1991 murder of a teenager outside a New York City nightclub after an altercation. He was identified by eyewitnesses in both police photographs and a lineup. However, in court testimony, Bermudez’ friends testified that he was with them the night of the crime, and even friends of the victim also said Bermudez was not the shooter. In addition, no forensic evidence linked him to the crime.
Despite the testimony and lack of evidence, Bermudez was ultimately convicted and sentenced to serve 23 years to life in prison. However, five eyewitnesses to the alleged crime later recanted their testimony and he was acquitted in 2009, after serving 18 years. His case represents a rare instance of New York case law in which a judge overturned a conviction based on “actual innocence grounds” without DNA evidence.
Since his release, Bermudez has completed a bachelor’s degree and is considering whether to attend law school or graduate school. He also engages in public speaking through the Innocence Project and has worked to abolish the death penalty in Connecticut. And in February 2011, Bermudez filed a $30 million suit against the city of New York for his wrongful incarceration.
Bermudez will be joined in the discussion by Rebecca Brown, director of State Policy Reform at the Innocence Project.
Brown joined the Innocence Project in September of 2005. Prior to joining the Innocence Project, Rebecca investigated police misconduct cases for the City of New York, served as a policy analyst for the NYC Mayor’s Office on juvenile justice, and was a planner at the Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES), New York’s oldest and largest alternative to incarceration program.
The event will be archived online for later viewing on the Woodrow Wilson School’s web media site – http://wws.princeton.edu/webmedia.