The grind of justice moves slowly, especially for the innocent. Today in Utah Judge Michael DiReda issued his decision in a case and determined that Debra Brown is “factually innocent” of committing aggravated murder in 1993. Here is a link to the news story and here is a link to Judge DiReda’s decision.
Unfortunately for Ms. Brown, she will remain imprisoned until May 9th while the State of Utah decides whether to appeal Judge DiReda’s decision.
Kudos to the Rocky Mountain Innocence Center for taking on this case and for pursuing justice, even when it takes nearly 18 years.
The truly sad part of this story, however, is that there are no winners here. The victim’s family has not found justice as the killer remains free and uncharged. Ms. Brown may have been exonerated but she has spent 18 years in prison for a crime she did not commit. The citizens of Utah have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to prosecute, incarcerate, and challenge Ms. Brown’s appeals and are no safer for having done so. Arguably at least, we are less safe for having lost confidence in the criminal justice system as a whole.