Exonerated Man Dies Suddenly Before Settlement

Handcuffs, by Vectorportal.com, licensed via Creative Commons.

Locked Up

55 year-old William Lopez was exonerated of a 1989 murder conviction in January 2013. Witness reports charged Lopez with the murder of a drug dealer, although no physical evidence was ever found. After 23 years in prison, “Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice, helped connect Lopez with his legal team and highlight his case”. The evidence that initially convicted Lopez was weak to begin with, one witness statement was even later recanted. A federal civil lawsuit was set to begin Tuesday October 1, demanding $124 million for false imprisonment.

However, William Lopez suddenly died days before the lawsuit was set to start from complications of an asthma attack. Lopez had hoped to use money he received in a settlement to travel internationally, go to law school, and help his wife get set up with her own business. Since his release 20 months ago, Lopez was struggling financially, and was looking forward to being compensated for the time he spent in prison. “Supporters said his unexpected demise denied him the justice he deserved”. Lopez felt that his life was really robbed from him, and that money received from the settlement would allow him to enjoy luxuries that he was denied during his time in prison.

William Lopez’s brother Eugene states, “My brother Bill was greatly bothered by the fact that his life was dramatically impacted by being wrongfully convicted, as well as his knowledge that many other wrongful convictions have taken place without any changes in the system”. It’s hard not to wonder about other potential wrongful convictions in the justice system. Are there others with a story similar to that of William Lopez, who are serving hard time for a crime they did not commit?

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