Original Airdate: 10/20/14
Shopping for a wedding dress is a special day for any young woman and her mother, but this moment is extra special because Susan Mellen never dreamed she would get to see her daughter walk down the aisle.
Finding the dress is Susan's first shopping trip in nearly two decades. Only INSIDE EDITION was with her and her daughter Jessica as they shopped for wedding gowns.
INSIDE EDITION’s Victoria Recano asked, “How does it feel to have your mom here?”
Jessica replied, “It feels awesome, I never thought it would happen and now it feels like a dream.”
Susan has just been released from prison after 17 years. She was framed for a murder she didn't commit.
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She said, “I'm really here with my daughter picking out a wedding dress. It's like, it's just amazing.”
Susan was wrongly convicted of killing her ex-boyfriend in 1997. The only evidence tying her to the crime was the word of a habitual liar and meth addict. Susan was arrested at a McDonald’s in Gardena, California. She was there with her daughter Jessica who was then nine years old. They were about to eat a Happy Meal.
During the intense police interrogation, Susan never wavered.
In the interrogation an officer said, “A man was murdered alright.”
She replied, “But I didn't murder him.”
“I do not believe you,” said an officer.
Recano asked, “When you went to jail what was that moment like?”
A tearful Susan said, “Terrifying, I can't even. It was devastating and I don't know, it's hard. I don't want to think about it anymore. I’ve blocked it out.”
Recano asked, “What did you miss the most?”
‘My children, my children,” she answered.
Susan was convicted and sentenced to life in prison and 17 long years passed. Then, lawyer Deirdre O’Connor took on her case.
O’Connor said, “The case screamed out innocence right from the beginning.”
A judge had to agree that Susan had been railroaded.
The judge said, “The judgment is vacated the conviction is overturned. I believe based on what I’ve read that she's innocent and for that reason I think the criminal justice system failed.”
Outside the courthouse Susan met her grandson, Aiden, for the very first time.
Like Rip Van Winkle, Susan was stunned at how technology has changed since she was incarcerated.
A reporter asked her, “That your first cell phone?”
She said, “Yeah I never had one. I don't even know how to turn it on.”
Recano asked Susan, “Have you taken a selfie yet?”
Susan replied, “A what?”
Susan then took her very first selfie with Recano.
Walking into her daughter’s house for the first time was like entering another world from the future.
She said, “The TV’s are huge. I walk in the house and the whole wall is a TV, its crazy.”
And what about that Happy Meal that never happened? Susan and Jessica did just that. It was their first meal as a family in 17 years. Freedom never tasted so good. Now, it's time to get ready for that wedding!
For more information go to: innocencematters.org.