Gardena woman released from prison faces delay to be ‘factually innocent’

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A Gardena woman who was recently released from prison for a murder she did not commit, will have to wait another month before being declared legally “factually innocent.”

Ssuan Mellen, 59, who served 17 years in prison for a 1997 homicide that she was cleared of recently, will have to wait until Nov. 21 to get her official release. The District Attorney’s Office is allowing prosecutors time to review the evidence and motions regarding Mellen’s case to ensure that she was not involved in the homicide.

A Gardena woman who was recently released from prison for a murder she did not commit, will have to wait another month before being declared legally “factually innocent.”

Ssuan Mellen, 59, who served 17 years in prison for a 1997 homicide that she was cleared of recently, will have to wait until Nov. 21 to get her official release. The District Attorney’s Office is allowing prosecutors time to review the evidence and motions regarding Mellen’s case to ensure that she was not involved in the homicide.

Judge Mark Arnold said the request by the DA’s Office to be reasonable.

Mellen has been at home with her family since her Oct. 10 release.

The official clearance of  Mellon’s involvement carries financial implications, as she is due to receive $100 a day for each day she wrongfully served prison time. The final amount is about $600,000, officials said.

Mellon was convicted of killing Richard James Daly by a Torrance Superior Court jury on May 15, 1998. She was implicated based on sole testimony from June Patti, who was called an “habitual liar” by her sister, a Torrance police officer.

Lewis Notrica, Mellon’s attorney during the criminal trial, failed to question Patti’s testimony and reportedly even nodded off during the trial, sources said. Los Angeles police Detective Marcella Winn disregarded the “liar” tag and pressed ahead with Patti’s testimony.

Innocense Matters, based in Torrance, took up Mellon’s case independently over the last year. ‘Matters’ works to correct wrongful prosecutions in the legal system. They found insufficient evidence in Mellon’s conviction, which led to the District Attorney’s Office reviewing the case and overturning the ruling.

One gang member was convicted of the murder, but others who may have been involved were not prosecuted.

Dierdre O’Connor, Mellon’s attorney, told the Daily Breeze that she did not expect any complications prior to Nov. 21 and that her client would be official cleared in the case.