« From the Desk of Seth Mela

Degrees of Guilt

by Seth Mela

In 1994, a guy in Chicago named Rodell Sanders was found guilty of ordering a gang member killed, and got sentenced to 80 years in prison. Rodell is 49 now, and admits he WAS in a gang. But he's always maintained that he was framed.

So several years ago, Rodell got his family to raise $1,000 to buy some legal books. And since then, he's spent 10 to 12 hours a day, seven days a week reading them.

He also got involved with something called the Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago, and started building a new case.

His first re-trial was last year, and ended with a hung jury. 11 of them thought he was guilty, but one didn't. Which meant he got a SECOND re-trial. And on Tuesday, he was found NOT guilty and released after 20 YEARS in jail.

Rodell says even if he'd been offered a deal to get out WITHOUT being found not guilty, he wouldn't have taken it, because he refused to admit to something he didn't do.

Now he's working on a lawsuit against the police department and the city of Chicago for violating his rights. And he's also planning to go to school so he can become a paralegal, and maybe a lawyer eventually.