Mon, Oct 23, 2023

7 PM – 8:30 PM EDT (GMT-4)

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Bellarmine Chapel (3801 St. Francis Xavier Way)

Xavier University Alumni Center Eigel Center Rm. 126 1507 Dana Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45207, United States




Nearly 200 innocent people have been exonerated from death row in the U.S. since 1976. Join us to hear the powerful stories of three speakers, and learn how you can impact death penalty policy in Ohio.

Featured Speakers:
• Debra Milke, death row exoneree
• Randal Padgett, death row exoneree
• Rev. Dr. Jack Sullivan Jr., Board Chair of Journey of Hope – From Violence to Healing, and brother of a murder victim
Food Provided (Light refreshments will be provided.)


Debra Milke's profile photo

Debra Milke

Death Row Exonereee

Witness to Innocence

Debra Milke spent 22 years on Arizona’s death row for a crime she did not commit.

In 1989, Debra was a single, 25 year old mother, with a four year old son. One day in December, her son went to the mall with her friend to go see Santa Claus, but he never came back. Hours later Debra was taken into an interrogation room and told the devastating news, her son was found murdered, and she was under arrest. Debra had to face two tragedies at the same time.

Armando Saldate Jr., the homicide detective who interrogated Debra, said she had confessed everything to him. He didn’t have tapes, witnesses, or a signed statement to prove it, the only evidence was his word against hers. What the prosecutors failed to disclose was that Saldate had a history of misconduct. These lies and cover ups would take away decades of Debra's life.

At her trial, Debra told the jury she had not committed this terrible crime, but every argument for her innocence was countered by Saldate’s lie that she had confessed. Ultimately, the jury believed the lying detective over Debra and she was sentenced to death.

Debra fought for her freedom for over two decades; learning legal language, reading briefs, and getting a new lawyer. It finally paid off in 2013 when the federal 9th Circuit court of appeals overturned her conviction, calling it “a severe stain on the Arizona justice system.”

Years later, Debra's heart still aches for the loss of her son. She is glad she kept fighting for her freedom, but that pain is still with her. No one should have to experience this kind of blatant injustice. That is why Debra continues to fight against the death penalty.

"I always believed this day would come I just didn't think it would take 25 years, 3 months and 14 days to rectify such a blatant miscarriage of justice," Milke said.

Randal Padgett's profile photo

Randal Padgett

Death Row Exoneree

Witness to Innocence

Randal Padgett had a degree from Jacksonville State University and was a successful businessman with no prior criminal record. But then in 1992, he was convicted for the rape and murder of his estranged wife Cathy. The judge overruled the jury’s recommendation of life in prison to give Randal a death sentence. The case against Randal was based almost completely on tainted DNA evidence. In 1995, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the conviction, as the state failed to reveal discrepancies in the blood tests that would have aided in Randal’s defense.

In preparation for a second trial, Randal’s family hired a new lawyer, Richard Jaffe, known for providing strong defense for prisoners on death row. The attorney emphasized that more evidence existed incriminating a co-worker, with whom Randal had an affair. In October 1997, Randal was acquitted of all charges.

Randal spent three years on Alabama's death row and another two years in prison for this crime he did not commit before being exonerated in 1997.

Rev. Dr. Jack Sullivan, Jr.'s profile photo

Rev. Dr. Jack Sullivan, Jr.

Board President

Journey of Hope…From Violence to Healing

The Reverend Dr. Jack Sullivan, Jr., is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) US and Canada. He serves as executive director of the Columbus-based Ohio Council of Churches. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Dr. Sullivan is an internationally-known ecumenist, preacher, justice advocate, and death penalty abolitionist. In recognition of his work to stop executions, Dr. Sullivan was given the 2018 African American Liberation Award from the National Convocation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the 2020 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Social Justice Award by Governor Mike DeWine and the Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Ohio University; a Master of Divinity degree from Lexington Theological Seminary; a Doctor of Ministry from United Theological Seminary (Dayton); and an honorary doctorate from Bethany College, Bethany, West Virginia.

Dr. Sullivan is board president of Journey of Hope…From Violence to Healing and co-president of the Disciples Justice Action Network. He is an advisory board member of Catholic Mobilizing Network, Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, OH and Death Penalty Action. Dr. Sullivan is immediate past board chair of Ohioans to Stop Executions, and a former steering committee member of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty. He holds life memberships in the NAACP and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and is a member of the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Academy of Homiletics.


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Eigel Center for Community Engaged Learning | View More Events

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