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Felipe Rodriguez Talks with Jason Flom About His Wrongful Conviction & the Long Road to Exoneration

Rodriguez was convicted in 1990 for the 1987 murder of Maureen McNeill Fernandez in Queens, New York.

Felipe Rodriguez Talks with Jason Flom About His Wrongful Conviction & the Long Road to Exoneration

In December of 2019, Felipe Rodriguez was finally exonerated of all charges in his nearly 30-year wrongful conviction nightmare. This week, he appears on Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom to tell his story.

Rodriguez was convicted in 1990 for the 1987 murder of Maureen McNeill Fernandez in Queens, New York. His conviction was largely based on the testimony of Javier Ramos, who was also a suspect in the case. In a secretly-recorded pretrial interview, Ramos admitted to repeatedly lying to police, saying that he had been coerced into implicating Rodriguez in the murder.

Shockingly, none of this information was disclosed to the jury during Rodriguez's trial. In December 2016, his sentence was finally commuted by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, resulting in his release the following January after more than 27 years behind bars.

Despite his commutation, Rodriguez's conviction still hung over him like a dark cloud.

In 2017, Ramos was interviewed by a defense investigator and Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma, who represented Rodriguez together with the Innocence Project. Ramos confessed to lying in his testimony against Rodriguez. A reinvestigation of Rodriguez's case revealed that evidence that would have supported his innocence had been unlawfully withheld from his defense attorney. His exoneration was granted by the Queens County Supreme Court exactly three years to the day that he was granted his commutation.

"I thought that [the commutation] was the greatest moment of my life, but the only thing that was free was my body. I still had the chains that were still attached to me; the conviction was still attached to me," said Rodriguez on the day he was exonerated. "But [today], the chains will fall ... I will be absolutely, completely free."

Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom takes a deep dive into the stories of the wrongfully convicted, from Amanda Knox and Brendan Dassey and more. The series is wildly fascinating and deeply impactful, a useful tool for criminal justice advocates, the general public, legal experts, and has been cited as a valuable resource for those who have found themselves facing the nightmare of wrongful conviction.

Flom, the founder/CEO of Lava Records and a criminal justice advocate for the past 30 years, has been personally involved in the cases of hundreds of wrongfully convicted people. Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom is produced by Lava For Good Podcasts in association with Signal Co. No1.

Listen to Rodriguez's story on or on all popular podcast streaming platforms.

Lava for Good Podcasts exists at the intersection of entertainment, inspiration, and impact. Produced by renowned music executive, children's book author, and philanthropist Jason Flom along with Lava Media COO Jeff Kempler in association with Signal Co. No1, Lava for Good Podcasts works directly with a highly-engaged audience to entertain, empower, and support participation and community impact. Its #1-charting lineup of criminal justice podcasts explores the interrelated topics of systemic racism, over-policing, and criminal justice reform.

As the founder of Lava Media (which includes Lava Music as well as Lava for Good Podcasts), Flom is one of the most successful music executives in history, having backed and discovered superstar artists from Twisted Sister and Skid Row to Matchbox 20, Paramour, Kid Rock, 30 Seconds to Mars, Katy Perry, Lorde and Greta Van Fleet. He has also served as the chairman of Atlantic Records, as well as Virgin Records/Capitol Music Group. With his daughter Allison Flom, he is the co-author of the children's book Lulu is a Rhinoceros - soon to be a major children's TV show.

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