The story of 36-year-old Adam Braseel, a Grundy County man who was released from prison last year after serving 12 years for a crime he says he didn't commit, has garnered national attention from the popular true crime podcast "Criminal."
The episode, titled "Red Hair, Gold Car," and released Feb. 7, interviewed Braseel, Circuit Court Judge Justin Angel and retired Grundy County Sheriff's Department sergeant Mike Brown.
Braseel was found guilty in 2007 in the beating death of Malcolm Burrows and in an assault on Burrows' sister. He had sought a new trial, saying he was a victim of mistaken identity.
The episode's name is in reference to the fact that the only factors originally tying Braseel to the case were his red hair and gold car.
In August 2019, a plea deal was reached in which Braseel's murder conviction was dropped in exchange for him pleading guilty to aggravated assault. Judge Angel ordered him freed immediately.
In the episode, Braseel talks about what it was like being convicted in 2007.
"It's humiliatin' to be sittin' in that seat and being called a murderer," Braseel said in the podcast. "And someone to be pointin' their finger at you, it's like someone sittin' there spittin' in your face and you can't do nothin' about it."
In August, the Times Free Press reported that Braseel planned to file a petition for exoneration from Gov. Bill Lee. Braseel and his attorney officially applied this month.
According to the podcast, the National Registry of Exonerations reports there have been 2,549 exonerations in the U.S. since 1989 and those exonerees have collectively lost more than 22,000 years behind bars.
Analyzing the factors that contribute to wrongful convictions, the leading factor is perjury followed by official misconduct, the organization states.
The podcast ends with Braseel talking about his life after prison.
"It's just a unique perspective on life now that I have, and I'm having the best days of my life out here," he said.
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