Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Who Killed Him?

American Scofflaw
Peter Shellem, an investigative reporter at The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., who was known for digging up evidence that helped release wrongly convicted prisoners, died Oct. 24 of an apparent suicide. He was 49.

An obituary in The New York Times Sunday stated Shellem's son, Philip, had confirmed his death and said it was a suicide. But the story said the coroner's office had not confirmed revealed a cause.

The story also detailed Shellem's history of reviewing cases of those wrongfully convicted, noting "In one case, a man who was a teenager when he was convicted of killing a neighbor was released after 28 years in prison. In another, DNA evidence that Mr. Shellem recovered from a professor's refrigerator in Leipzig, Germany, exonerated a retarded man of rape and murder."

It cited five cases that Shellem had investigated that led to convictions being overturned.

The entire story is here.

As someone who has spent a few years covering the wrongfully convicted (actually, the politically prosecuted), I can tell you from my experience how absolutely depressing this subject is. When people die in prison, despite your best efforts, or a family member dies while the person is in jail you feel like a failure. This is very sad and my prayers are with his family.

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