Florida death row exoneree to speak at Florida Atlantic

Seth Penalver will come to campus on April 5 to speak out against the death penalty


Brittany Ferrendi, Features Editor

Seth Penalver spent 18 years in prison — 13 on death row — for a crime he didn’t commit. Now, he’s coming to Florida Atlantic this Tuesday to speak about his experiences.

The Beta Phi chapter of the American Criminal Justice Association will welcome Florida death row exoneree Seth Penalver on Tuesday, April 5 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Grand Palm Room within the Student Union.

According to the Sun Sentinel, in 1999, Penalver was sentenced to death for triple homicide and armed robbery in Broward County in 1994. The Florida Supreme Court overturned his sentence seven years later because of improper evidence at his trial.

The prosecution also withheld evidence: An informant was given a bribe in exchange for their testimony against Penalver and his co-defendant, Pablo Ibar, who is still on death row.

In 2012, Penalver was found not guilty of all charges. He has since spoken out against the death penalty across the state.

“He is the 142nd person to be exonerated from death row since 1973,” reads the event flyer. “And the 24th such person in Florida, the most of any state.”

The ACJA Beta Phi chapter is a co-educational fraternity at FAU for students interested in the criminal justice system. It invites criminal justice professionals to campus every semester, this time with the help of professor Cassandra Atkin-Plunk, who specializes in studying corrections.

President of ACJA Brandon Karns said, “This semester, we thought it would be interesting to show the other side of criminal justice, and to allow students to see that there are times where the system does not work as intended.”

He added: “I believe this is important because many of our students aspire to be law enforcement officers or prosecutors, and as such they should realize the gravity of these positions and how they could potentially affect people’s lives.”

Penalver isn’t the first death row exoneree to come to an FAU campus.

In 2009, ACJA welcomed former marine Kirk Bloodsworth, who gave a lecture on his time on death row. He is the first person on death row to be cleared of charges by DNA testing.

The event is free to all students and faculty. For more information, contact Karns at [email protected].

Brittany Ferrendi is the features editor of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet her @BFerrendi.