Justice and Freedom for Zachary Pettus!
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Zachary Pettus has been Incarcerated in the California Prison System since 1983, for a murder he did not commit! Zac had just turned 19 years old, and had only been in California less than 5 months, staying with his older sister, when he was arrested and unjustly charged with murder in the commission of a robbery. Zac was sentenced to Life Without the Possibility of Parole, even though the District Attorney was hoping for the Death Sentence. (The judge took the death penalty off the table before the jury could deliberate over the sentence. Something that made the local papers call for the judges head, but the judge stood firm.)
Zac had no criminal history before he was charged with this crime, as a matter of fact, Zac has never been in any type of trouble. He came from a good family in Cincinnati, Ohio, his brother was a West Point graduate. His father was a business owner and his other brother routinely won the biggest talent show in Cincinnati, a show in which LA Reid also competed before becoming the other half of LA Reid and Babyface. A talent show in which Zac was the MC. Zac was a great student and a great athlete that excelled in football, basketball and track and field, he was also a life guard and helped organize the Ms. Teen Cincinnati pageant. Zac as a young teen actually played a pick up basketball game with a teenage George Clooney. Zac is the youngest of 10. Zac was and is still well liked and respected in his hometown of Cincinnati, where he is remembered for his peaceful nature, being very funny, excelling at making people laugh and being very gentle and kind. (These tendencies were noted in the court ordered probation report done at the time of Zac's trial.)
Zac was convicted of murder while in commission of a robbery in Huntington Beach California in October of 1983. There was so much done wrong by the Huntington Beach police department, the Orange County district attorney and Zac's pro bono attorney Milton Grimes. Evidence was withheld, timeline witnesses and evidence that would have proven Zac's innocence were NEVER pursued and presented to the jury. Questionable evidence and witnesses were NEVER challenged. There was also proven and documented evidence of jury misconduct during the trial. Some jurors wrote statements after the trial stating that they did not believe the Prosecution proved their case but they were bullied and threatened by the other jurors to vote guilty. Several jurors and a witness were heard referring to Zac as the 'N' word during the trial. (Zac had 11 White jurors and 1 African American male. It was the African American male juror and another young lady on the jury that wrote the letter to the defense after the trial; the jurors said they did not believe the prosecution had proven their case, but they were threatened and bullied by the other jurors to vote against their own mind.)
The police ignored and didn't pursue a tip from someone that called in saying one of their chief witnesses was actually responsible for the crime. The police, prosecution and the defense team ignored and did not pursue another suspect identified by another police officer at the Huntington Beach police department as being seen by that same officer walking away from the scene of the crime around the time the crime took place, wearing the same clothes a witness saw the assailant wearing at the crime scene. Also, every witness that saw Zac the day of the crime identified him as wearing jeans and a polo shirt and smelling strongly of cologne. While everyone that saw the assailant stated he was wearing red athletic gear and a white t-shirt. And witnesses that had seen both Zac and the assailant emphatically stated that they were two different people and the assailant was not Zac! The suspected assailant of the crime that Zac is unfairly serving time for has an extensive violent criminal history, before and after the crime in 1983.
Zac has been unjustly incarcerated for over 37 years! He has had no Federal Appeals, and I have tried to get different organizations to help win Zac's freedom and in the process get justice for the first victim of the crime that loss her life that afternoon in 1983, but so far he has suffered one disappointment after another!
As long as Zac unfairly sits behind bars, the victim of the crime will never get justice, and Zac will always be the second victim of that crime. While Zac has been in custody, he has received only 5 minor write ups, none violent, none resulting in any disciplinary action. While in custody Zac has maintained his sense of humor and compassion. He has earned numerous AA degrees, multiple Certificates, two Bachelor degrees, Masters degree and two PhD's. He founded a Christian Men's Group that has seen several men turn their lives around with Zacs help and have been paroled and living successfully in their communities. (Even one that won a Commutation of Sentence from the California Governor.)
Zac is an ordained Minister that has ministered to both staff and other inmates over the years! And religion and faith isn't something Zac discovered while incarcerated, his faith has always been important to him. He has served as the Chaplains assistant for years, runs several weekly bible study classes and participates and organizes the Christian Men's Choir.
I have submitted both a Commutation of Sentence and an application for Clemency based on Factual Innocence to the California Governor's office on behalf of Zac. Zac deserves his freedom and I know he will be an positive asset to any community he is a part of. Zac has an extensive support system once he is released. I am asking the Governor for mercy for an innocent man, a good man!
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