Death row exoneree shares story of murder, wrongful conviction a - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Death row exoneree shares story of murder, wrongful conviction and justice

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LOUISVILLE, Ky (WDRB) -- Imagine spending 17 years behind bars, 12 of them on death row for a crime you did not commit.

That was one man's reality and now that he's free, he's sharing his story hoping to make a difference.

WDRB sat down with a man whose life was once hanging by a thread.

Randy Steidl was in Louisville Tuesday night but he tours all over the country sharing his story with one very specific goal.

"Compare it to buying a novel and getting half way through and realizing there are 18 chapters missing. That's how I feel about my life," said Steidl.

It's a story of murder, wrongful conviction and eventually justice.

"I was quickly tried and convicted, sentenced to death and within 97 days I'm sitting on death row and thinking how did this happen?" Steidl told WDRB.

Randy Steidl spent 17 years in prison, including 12 on death row before he was exonerated in 2004.

When he was 35 years-old, he was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to die for a gruesome murder in the small town of Paris, Illinois.

"It shocked the town as you can imagine, a small town of 9,000 people," he said.

Steidl says an investigation by the Illinois State Police later proved that local law enforcement and prosecutors had framed him.

Since his release in 2004, Steidl has been active in the anti-death penalty movement, speaking to communities throughout the United States.

"I begged God for years to let me die in my sleep when I was on death row and even more so when I was doing life without parole. If they had rolled that gurney by my cell, I would have buckled myself on it," he said.

Steidl believes the life without parole sentence is the alternative to killing people.

"If you want to punish somebody, as tough as death row was, life without parole is tougher. You deal with cockroaches, rodents crawling in and out of your cell all the time. That's true punishment when you know that's the way it's going to be until the day you die," Steidl told WDRB.

Steidl says if nothing else, he wants to make people more aware of the death penalty and inspire those with opinions on it to speak up.

"I believe you can release an innocent person from prison but you can't release them from the grave," he said.

Learn more about Steidl's story by clicking here.

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