I’m tremendously happy to hear that Charlie Ely has been freed from prison, and her sentence vacated — and even though it’s been close to a decade, she still has the opportunity to start anew and begin her new life with a huge weight lifted from her shoulders.
I started the Free Charlie Ely campaign back in December 2013 — after she’d spent a year in prison on her 1st-degree murder conviction, give or take a few months. I had previously covered the murder of Seath Jackson when I wrote for Gather News, and was at one point highly-critical of Charlie and her co-defendants. However, by 2013 I had realized that this young woman had been treated unfairly by the justice system in the state of Florida. She was treated as if she’d actively participated in a murder that she did not commit.
Charlie Ely did not kill Seath Jackson. She did not invite him to her home believing that he would be murdered. She did not participate in the killing in any way. She was afraid, and hid in her bedroom while people she barely knew committed this heinous act of homicidal violence. They were armed with guns and other weapons. They were killing a teenage boy in her home while she was powerless to intervene. And for this, she was convicted of 1st-degree murder and sentenced to life without the chance of parole. This was simply unjust — especially for a state that acquitted the likes of George Zimmerman and Casey Anthony.
Speaking of Casey Anthony, I think it’s safe to say that Jose Baez has redeemed himself after representing Charlie in our pursuit for justice. I disagree with how he represented Anthony, and will forever believe that she belongs behind the walls of a prison — but he does deserve our thanks and appreciation for his work on Charlie’s case. He saw the injustice that her mother and I saw. He saw the injustice that this practically-innocent woman was experiencing, and he did an excellent job. It’s because of his hard work that she is free today. So kudos to Jose Baez.
Now that the Free Charlie Ely campaign has been successful, I will have no reason to keep the FB page going under its current name. I will consider either closing it down or preserving it as a page for campaigning against similar injustices.