Randal Padgett spent five years on Alabama’s death row for a crime he did not commit, before his exoneration in 1997. He was convicted and sentenced to death in 1992 for the rape and murder of his estranged wife, spending three years on death row and another two awaiting a second trial. The case against Randal was based almost completely on tainted DNA evidence. In 1995, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the conviction, as the state failed to reveal discrepancies in the blood tests that would have aided in Randal’s defense.
In preparation for a second trial, Randal’s family hired a new lawyer known for providing strong defense for prisoners on death row. The attorney emphasized that more evidence existed incriminating a co-worker, with whom Randal had an affair. In October 1997, Randal was acquitted of all charges.
Because of Randal’s experience, he expresses wariness toward the simple way many Americans view the criminal justice system. Prior to his own sentencing, Randal had assumed innocents were never convicted. “In the good ol’ U.S. of A., I thought, during a trial the truth was foremost and the court endeavors to seek the facts. That isn’t the case. Innocent people are convicted, and once you’re convicted, it’s difficult to find anyone willing to believe otherwise.”
Randal lives in Alabama with his wife Brenda, whom he met during his fight for freedom. He credits his strong religious faith in sustaining him through his ordeal, and loves speaking to college students and communities of faith. He is driven by quiet dignity, yet determined passion, to see the death penalty abolished in the country he loves.