Illinois death row exoneree Steidl to present lecture at WKU on Nov. 28

The ACLU of Kentucky and the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty will join WKU’s Department of History and Legal Studies program in hosting death row exoneree Randy Steidl for a lecture at WKU on Nov. 28.

In a CNN interview, Steidl described his experience on death row as “Torture – actually being innocent and knowing that the state of Illinois wanted to kill me for something I did not do.”

Steidl’s lecture will begin at 3 p.m. in Cherry Hall, room 125. Admission is free and open to the public.

The lecture is co-sponsored by the WKU Department of Philosophy and Religion, Department of Political Science, African American Studies Program and Department of Sociology.

Steidl and his co-defendant were convicted for the 1986 murder of newlywed couple Dyke and Karen Rhoads in the small town of Paris, Ill. The two maintained their innocence but it was not until Northwestern University journalism students got involved that Steidl’s case received a proper review.

The entire case against Steidl was based on unreliable eyewitness testimony. Even though their stories conflicted with one another, both witnesses claimed to be present on the night of the attack and both described a gruesome scene. Yet, in spite of the violent stabbing and subsequent bloodshed that occurred, there was no physical evidence tying Steidl to the crime.

It was only after the in-depth investigative journalism conducted by Northwestern University students that new information was uncovered and old evidence invalidated.  With the aid of a local police officer, students were able to present enough evidence of Steidl’s innocence to call for a new trial. Eventually, all charges were dropped and Steidl became the 18th person to be released from Illinois’ death row due to a wrongful conviction.

Steidl’s visit comes weeks after the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights called on state lawmakers to abolish the death penalty and less than one year after a team of Kentucky legal experts published a 400-page report outlining the serious flaws within the state’s death penalty system.

Contact: Kate Miller, (502) 648-7262; or Patricia Minter, (270) 745-3841.

(Source: WKU News, Nov 8, 2012)

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