Free Efren

Every time I read about things like this, I start thinking about just how many people are wrongly incarcerated right this second, and my heart just drops.  I was 8 years old when this happened; the thought that Efren Paredes, Jr. was not much older when he was given two life sentences for a crime he didn’t commit is simply horrifying.

via The Unapologetic Mexican:

Learn about innocent 15-year-old Latino former high school honor student named Efren Paredes, Jr. who was wrongly convicted in 1989 for a murder and armed robbery he did not commit; a crime to which others plead guilty. The crime occurred in St. Joseph, Michigan (Berrien County), USA.

Efren was tried and convicted only three months after his arrest on March 15, 1989 and convicted by 11 White jurors and one Black juror in a city whose racial composition was 95% White. The judge, prosecutor, and all the investigating police were also all White. […]

The case against Efren was entirely circumstantial and based primarily on the statements of other youth who received reduced charges and sentences from the prosecutor in exchange for their incentivized testimony.

Asst. Prosecuting Attorney Michael Sepic knowingly committed professional misconduct when he allowed a man, who would later become the jury foreman, to be seated on the jury who worked with the aunt of the victim’s widow in Efren’s case.

The information about the juror’s connection to the aunt was brought to Sepic’s attention on two occasions, once before the trial began and once after it began by the victim’s widow. Sepic has openly acknowledged that he knew this information, most recently at Efren’s December 4, 2008 public hearing. Appellate courts have held these acts of unprofessional and conspiracy by Sepic were “harmless error.”

There was no physical evidence linking Efren to the crime, no eyewitnesses to the crime, and Efren was home with his parents and two brothers when the crime occurred. Despite all this Efren was sentenced to two life without parole sentences and one parolable life sentence. He is now 36-years-old.

The Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office and police investigating the crime provided false and erroneous information to the media in an attempt to convict Efren in the media before trial. Their unethical conduct and betrayal of the public trust infected every level of the legal process and contributed to Efren’s unlawful conviction.

Read the entire post here.


If you would like to send Efren a message you can do so by sending The Injustice Must End (TIME) an e-mail at which they will print and forward to him for a response, or you can write him directly at:

Efren Paredes, Jr.
3510 N. Elm Road
Jackson, MI 49201

Write a letter supporting Efren’s release:

Click here for suggestions about how to write a support letter for Efren requesting that he be granted a pardon or commutation.

Sign the petition:

Visit The Injustice Must End (TIME) for more information.


About Melissa

I love donuts. Chocolate iced, hold the sprinkles.
This entry was posted in activism, general assholery, human rights, prison system and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Free Efren

  1. slb says:

    of course this happened in michigan. like, of COURSE it did. & that address is right around where my fam lives. that means all the summers i’ve spent there since i was nine, that poor man was wasting away really close by.

    infuriating and sobering.

  2. Velia Koppenhoefer says:

    I am Velia, Efrén’s mother. Thanks so much for positing this information about my wonderful son. Our family is grateful for the outpouring of support that Efrén has been blessed to receive which continues to grow exponentially each day. Please urge people to visit to learn how you can write a letter to Michigan Governor Granholm expressing support for Efrén’s release. We are awaiting a decision about Efrén’s commutation which could come any day now. Circulating this message and link is extremely important at this very critical hour. People can also feel free to e-mail me at velia.koppenhoefer [at] to get involved as well. Please join our efforts to help rescue Efrén from a lifetime of imprisonment and restore his much deserved freedom. As Efrén often reminds us, “Our resounding voice which continues to rally the world to defeat injustice can crumble its towering walls. We must never underestimate our collective strength and determination.” Free Efrén!

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