Woman found innocent of murder after 17 years

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Woman Found Innocent Of Murder After 17 Years

(HUFFINGTON POST) -- Susan Mellen, 59, was serving out a life sentence in California for the death of her ex-boyfriend. But that sentence was cut short when a judge threw out her conviction, saying there was strong evidence of her innocence.

Superior Court Judge Mark Arnold said, "I believe she is innocent. For that reason I believe in this case the justice system failed."

The judge found that the key testimony against Mellen came from a "habitual liar" and Mellen also didn't have adequate defense provided by her lawyer at the time.

Mellen was convicted 17 years ago and after all that time lost, she says she's nothing but happy. She told KCAL she wrote "freedom" on the bottom of her shoes in prison hoping for this day.

"I didn't want it to take a hold and change who I really was: A person who really had a lot of love in my heart and I was actually always a good person," Mellen said.

Mellen says she now hopes to get to know her son better and help one of her daughters plan her wedding.

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Woman found innocent of murder after 17 years
Susan Mellon gets a hug from her brother Michael Mellen outside Torrance Superior Court Friday Oct. 10, 2014 where she was exonerated and released from prison for a murder she didn't commit 17 years ago. (AP Photo/Daily Breeze, Brad Graverson, Pool)
Susan Mellen outside Torrance Superior Court Friday Oct. 10, 2014 where she was exonerated and released from prison for a murder she didn't commit 17 years ago. She danced a little jig before the cameras while standing with family and her lawyer. (AP Photo/Daily Breeze, Brad Graverson, Pool)
Susan Mellen rejoices after she is exonerated of murder by Superior Court Judge Mark Arnold in Torrance, Calif., Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. Mellen spent 17 years in prison after being convicted of murder in the death of Richard Daly, a homeless man in 1997. The judge said Mellen had inadequate representation by her attorney at trial. The witness who claimed she heard Mellen confess, had a long history of giving false tips to law enforcement, according to documents in the case. Three gang members subsequently were linked to the crime, and one was convicted of the killing. (AP Photo/Daily Breeze, Brad Graverson, Pool)
Susan Mellen, left, sits with her attorney Deirdre O'Connor, as she is exonerated of murder by Superior Court Judge Mark Arnold in Torrance, Calif., Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. Mellen spent 17 years in prison after being convicted of murder in the death of Richard Daly, a homeless man in 1997. The judge said Mellen had inadequate representation by her attorney at trial. The witness who claimed she heard Mellen confess, had a long history of giving false tips to law enforcement, according to documents in the case. Three gang members subsequently were linked to the crime, and one was convicted of the killing. (AP Photo/Daily Breeze, Brad Graverson, Pool)
Donald Besch, 25, right, the son of Susan Mellen, who has little memory of his mother because he was so young when she was imprisoned, opens his shirt to show reporters a broken heart he had tattooed on his chest to honor her, as family members awaited for her release outside the courthouse in Torrance, Calif., Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. Susan Mellen spent 17 years in prison for a crime she did not commit, after being convicted of murder in the death of Richard Daly, a homeless man in 1997, was convicted of the 1997 killing based solely on the testimony of a notorious liar. Three gang members subsequently were linked to the crime, and one was convicted of the killing. Despite the judge's urgency, the process of release was lengthy and she remained in sheriff's custody hours later. It was not clear whether she would be freed Friday. At left, Mellen's daughter Jessica Besch, 27 (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Children of Susan Mellen, from left, Donald Besch, 25, Julie Carroll, 39, and Jessica Besch, 27, hold a news conference as they await for her release outside the courthouse in Torrance, Calif., Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. Susan Mellen spent 17 years in prison for a crime she did not commit, after being convicted of murder in the death of Richard Daly, a homeless man in 1997, was convicted of the 1997 killing based solely on the testimony of a notorious liar. Three gang members subsequently were linked to the crime, and one was convicted of the killing. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Family members and friends of Susan Mellen hold a praying circle as they await for her release, and walk out a free woman after 17 years of imprisonment for a murder she did not commit, outside the courthouse in Torrance, Calif., Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. Mellen spent 17 years in prison after being convicted of murder in the death of Richard Daly, a homeless man in 1997. Three gang members subsequently were linked to the crime, and one was convicted of the killing. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Los Angeles Sheriffs take Susan Mellen to be processed for release from the suburban Torrance courthouse, as she is exonerated after 17 years of imprisonment in Torrance, Calif., Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. Mellen spent 17 years in prison after being convicted of murder in the death of Richard Daly, a homeless man in 1997. The judge said Mellen had inadequate representation by her attorney at trial. The witness who claimed she heard Mellen confess, had a long history of giving false tips to law enforcement, according to documents in the case. Three gang members subsequently were linked to the crime, and one was convicted of the killing. (AP Photo/Daily Breeze, Brad Graverson, Pool)
Susan Mellen cries as she is exonerated of murder by Superior Court Judge Mark Arnold in Torrance, Calif., Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. Mellen spent 17 years in prison after being convicted of murder in the death of Richard Daly, a homeless man in 1997. The judge said Mellen had inadequate representation by her attorney at trial. The witness who claimed she heard Mellen confess, had a long history of giving false tips to law enforcement, according to documents in the case. Three gang members subsequently were linked to the crime, and one was convicted of the killing. (AP Photo/Daily Breeze, Brad Graverson, Pool)
Superior Court Judge Mark Arnold overturns the conviction of Susan Mellen on Friday, Oct. 10, 2014 in Torrance, Calif. Arnold exonerated Mellen after she spent 17 years in prison for murder in the death of Richard Daly, a homeless man in 1997. Arnold said Mellen had inadequate representation by her attorney at trial. The witness who claimed she heard Mellen confess, had a long history of giving false tips to law enforcement, according to documents in the case. Three gang members subsequently were linked to the crime, and one was convicted of the killing. (AP Photo/Daily Breeze, Brad Graverson, Pool)
Susan Mellen looks at the judge as she enters the courtroom for her exoneration proceedings on Friday, Oct. 10, 2014 in Torrance, Calif. Superior Court Judge Mark Arnold exonerated Mellen after she spent 17 years in prison for murder in the death of Richard Daly, a homeless man in 1997. Arnold said Mellen had inadequate representation by her attorney at trial. The witness who claimed she heard Mellen confess, had a long history of giving false tips to law enforcement, according to documents in the case. Three gang members subsequently were linked to the crime, and one was convicted of the killing. (AP Photo/Daily Breeze, Brad Graverson, Pool)
Susan Mellen enters the courtroom in tears for her exoneration proceedings on Friday, Oct. 10, 2014 in Torrance, Calif. Superior Court Judge Mark Arnold exonerated Mellen after she spent 17 years in prison for murder in the death of Richard Daly, a homeless man in 1997. Arnold said Mellen had inadequate representation by her attorney at trial. The witness who claimed she heard Mellen confess, had a long history of giving false tips to law enforcement, according to documents in the case. Three gang members subsequently were linked to the crime, and one was convicted of the killing. (AP Photo/Daily Breeze, Brad Graverson, Pool)
Susan Mellen, left, hugs her attorney Deirdre O'Connor, after she is exonerated of murder by Superior Court Judge Mark Arnold in Torrance, Calif., Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. Mellen spent 17 years in prison after being convicted of murder in the death of Richard Daly, a homeless man in 1997. The judge said Mellen had inadequate representation by her attorney at trial. The witness who claimed she heard Mellen confess, had a long history of giving false tips to law enforcement, according to documents in the case. Three gang members subsequently were linked to the crime, and one was convicted of the killing. (AP Photo/Daily Breeze, Brad Graverson, Pool)
Susan Mellen, left, waves to her family members waiting inside court, after being exonerated by Superior Court Judge Mark Arnold in Torrance, Calif., Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. Mellen spent 17 years in prison after being convicted of murder in the death of Richard Daly, a homeless man in 1997. The judge said Mellen had inadequate representation by her attorney at trial. The witness who claimed she heard Mellen confess, had a long history of giving false tips to law enforcement, according to documents in the case. Three gang members subsequently were linked to the crime, and one was convicted of the killing. (AP Photo/Daily Breeze, Brad Graverson, Pool)
Susan Mellen blows kisses back to her family waiting inside court, after been exonerated by Superior Court Judge Mark Arnold in Torrance, Calif., Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. Mellen spent 17 years in prison after being convicted of murder in the death of Richard Daly, a homeless man in 1997. The judge said Mellen had inadequate representation by her attorney at trial. The witness who claimed she heard Mellen confess, had a long history of giving false tips to law enforcement, according to documents in the case. Three gang members subsequently were linked to the crime, and one was convicted of the killing. (AP Photo/Daily Breeze, Brad Graverson, Pool)
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