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Kathy Spillman
Witness to Innocence

Last modified: Monday, April 4, 2011

Exonerated former death-row inmate to speak at IU Bloomington, IUPUI

April 4, 2011

Randy Steidl, who was nearly executed for a crime he didn't commit and went on to become the public face of the abolition of the death penalty in Illinois, will tell his story later this month during visits to Indiana University campuses in Bloomington and Indianapolis.

Steidl will speak at IU Bloomington on Tuesday, April 12, giving a Horizons of Knowledge lecture titled "Convicted, Condemned and Cleared: How an Exonerated Man Helped Abolish the Illinois Death Penalty." The talk will be at noon in the Moot Court Room of the IU Maurer School of Law.

Randy Steidl

Randy Steidl

On Thursday, April 14, he will speak at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis sponsored by the School of Public and Environmental Affairs Student Council. The event will take place at 7 p.m. in IUPUI Campus Center room 450C.

After the talk at IUPUI, a panel will discuss whether the death penalty is good public policy. Panelists will include Jim White, a former Indiana state trooper and current faculty member in SPEA's Criminal Justice and Public Safety program; Monica Foster, an internationally known criminal defense attorney who specializes in capital appeals; and Crystal Garcia, a criminologist and faculty member in SPEA's Criminal Justice and Public Safety program.

Steidl spent 17 years in prison, including 12 on death row, after he was convicted in the 1986 murder of two newly-weds in Southern Illinois. According to Witness to Innocence, an organization of exonerated death row survivors and their loved ones, he received poor legal representation, there was no DNA evidence presented in the case, and witnesses fabricated evidence because of police misconduct.

"You can release an innocent man from prison. I'm living proof of that. But you can't release him from the grave," Steidl told a Montana legislative committee considering the death penalty this month.

A federal judge ordered a new trial for Seidl in 2003 after the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University got involved and an Illinois State Police investigation cast doubt on the conduct of the murder investigation and trial. The state re-investigated the case, tested DNA evidence and found no link to Steidl, and the state decided against retrying the case.

Steidl left prison in May 2004, becoming the 18th person to go free after serving time on Illinois' death row for a wrongful conviction. He speaks out against the death penalty to state legislatures and civic organizations and on college campuses.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation abolishing the death penalty earlier this month.

Steidl's talk at Indiana University Bloomington is co-sponsored by the Department of Criminal Justice, the Criminal Justice Student Association, the Maurer School of Law and the Human Biology Program. For more information on Steidl, see

News media: To arrange an interview with Randy Steidl, please contact Kathy Spillman at or 215-471-7090.