The Wrong Man: A True Story of Innocence on Death Row

The Wrong Man: A True Story of Innocence on Death Row

The Wrong Man: A True Story of Innocence on Death Row

The Wrong Man: A True Story of Innocence on Death Row


"The Wrong Man is the dramatic story of Michael Mello's twenty-year fight to save "Crazy Joe" Spaziano, a member of a widely feared motorcycle gang, from execution for a murder he didn't commit. In a gripping personal account. Mello, a well-known author, activist, and legal commentator, describes the details of the case and the controversial extremes to which he was driven by it. Mello took the unconventional and risky step of involving the Miami Herald in his legal work; the newspaper eventually published an investigative piece that was instrumental in turning the tide of public opinion and bringing Spaziano's case to the attention of the national media." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Capital punishment is to law what Surrealism is to Realism in art.

Norman Mailer

Innocent people are sentenced to death and executed in the United States. It’s as inevitable as the law of averages and the fallibility of legal institutions devised and administered by humans. As of this writing, eighty-three condemned prisoners have been exonerated and released since 1973 under current death penalty statutes. The state of Illinois freed ten wrongfully condemned prisoners between 1973 and 1994— two fewer than it put to death. Florida has freed nineteen for the fortythree it has put to death. Nationally, one innocent person has been released for every five executed. One in five.

On Christmas Day 1998, retiring Florida Chief Justice Gerald Kogan was quoted in the Washington Post as saying he had “grave doubts” about the guilt of some of the people executed in Florida in recent years: “There are several cases where I had grave doubts as to the guilt of a particular person.” Chief Justice Kogan is no bleeding-heart, softon-crime liberal. He had been both a homicide detective and a prosecutor before he was appointed to the Florida Supreme Court.

I want to be clear at the outset what I mean by innocence. I mean the person on death row didn’t do the crime; I mean they got the wrong guy; I mean innocence the old-fashioned way. I don’t mean “innocence” by some legal technicality; I don’t mean he did it but he was crazy; I don’t mean he was there but didn’t pull the trigger. I mean he wasn’t there at all. I mean he didn’t do it—period. I mean they got the wrong person.

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