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San Diego Attorney Seeks U.N.’s Help To Free Convicted Killer

Photo caption:

Photo credit: California Innocence Project

Marilyn Mulero is pictured in this undated photo.

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In an unusual and last-ditch effort to exonerate a woman in a 1992 gang murder, a San Diego attorney has filed an appeal with the United Nations.

Justin Brooks, director of the California Innocence Project, said the continued imprisonment of gang member Marilyn Mulero is an international human rights violation.

Mulero has been in prison for 23 years for the murder of a Chicago gang member. Brooks has been working for two decades on her behalf because he believes she is innocent, and he created the California Innocence Project after advocating for her. The San Diego-based organization helps exonerate people wrongly convicted.

Brooks said Mulero entered into a plea bargain at the advice of an inexperienced attorney even though she’s innocent. He said if a patient decided to do open heart surgery at the advice of a doctor even though the patient didn’t need it, it would be considered malpractice. She was sentenced to death without a trial.

“A young woman is sitting on death row on a plea bargain,” Brooks told KPBS Midday Edition on Wednesday. “It’s called a plea bargain.”

Mulero's death sentence was overturned by the Illinois Supreme Court, which ruled there were errors made by the trial court. A second jury sentenced her to life in prison without the possibility of parole, but Mulero is trying to get her original guilty plea withdrawn. Her appeals have been denied by federal and state courts, and now Brooks is appealing to the U.N.’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions.

“It’s just a terrible story,” Brooks said. “All I’m asking for is a trial. A trial where we find out the truth."

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Marilyn Mulero is still on death row.

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