Florida Death Row Exoneree Spoke to FAU Criminal Justice Students

The American Criminal Justice Association hosted Florida death row exoneree Seth Penalver on Tuesday, April 5th.

The event was held in the Grand Palm room in the Student Union.

Seth Penalver spent 18 years in prison, including 13 years on Florida’s death row, for a brutal 1994 triple murder and armed robbery in Broward County. Although his first trial ended with a deadlocked jury, he was convicted and sentenced to death at retrial in 1999, along with his co-defendant, Pablo Ibar, who remains on death row. Seth spent almost half his life in prison.

In 2006, with Seth continuing to maintain his innocence, the Florida Supreme Court overturned his conviction because the prosecution had introduced improper evidence at his trial – mainly a grainy video that was at best inconclusive in proving Seth was at the scene. (In Seth’s final trial, it came to light that the prosecution withheld evidence that an informant crucial to their case was given money in exchange for damning testimony.)

In a new trial in 2012, a jury found him not guilty of all charges, and he was finally freed. Upon hearing the verdict, Seth wept, knelt in apparent prayer, and embraced his defense attorney, who also wept. He is the 142nd person to be exonerated from death row since 1973, and the 24th such person in Florida, the most of any state.

Seth continues to live in Broward County, eking out a living detailing automobiles, and speaking out whenever he can against the death penalty in Florida. A powerful voice for innocence, he has appeared on CNN, Al Jazeera, and Huffington Post Live to discuss his case.