Last Monday, recent exoneree Fernando Bermudez addressed a packed room of Arcadia University students and professors to share with them his personal story, and to exhort them to “live your life now.” In November, 2009, after 18 years in prison for a crime he had nothing to do with, Mr. Bermudez was declared “actually innocent” by the court hearing his plea.
Mr. Bermudez was convicted in the 1991 shooting death of Raymond Blount, 16, after Blount punched another teen in the Marc Ballroom near Union Square in Manhattan. From the moment of his arrest, law enforcement had information which would have led them to the true killer, but those leads were never followed. Instead, Mr. Bermudez was convicted based upon the false identification of a man who could have been prosecuted himself as an accessory to murder had he not helped implicate Mr. Bermudez; while knowing perfectly well that Fernando Bermudez was an innocent man.
During his 18 years in prison, Mr. Bermudez took every opportunity he could to further his education and stay focused on his goal: clearing his name so that he could rejoin his family. Finally, after filing 7 different petitions, he reached that goal. Today, Mr. Bermudez lives in Connecticut with his wife, Crystal, and their 3 children. Although he still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, still wakes up every morning at 4:30, and still addresses every stranger with a polite “yes ma’am” even when that person is decades younger than he, Mr. Bermudez is working hard to reclaim his life and make a difference for others as an innocent man.