Maria DeLiberato, Esq., FADP Executive Director. Through the course of her distinguished career, DeLiberato has had an up-close view of the deep flaws and inequities in Florida’s criminal justice system, specifically as it relates to the death penalty.
As a capital litigation attorney for 16 years, Maria has handled all aspects and stages of capital representation. She began her career as Assistant State Attorney in Miami-Dade County, where she prosecuted serious felony cases in the Career Criminal Unit and experienced firsthand the impact of violent crime. During her time as an Assistant State Attorney, she witnessed the limited ability of the criminal justice system to meet both the need for personal healing and restoration for crime victims as well as for accountability from those who harmed them.
She then joined Capital Collateral Regional Counsel (“CCRC”), where she spent nearly 13 years representing individuals on Florida’s death row in their post-conviction appeals. Among the many highlights of her dedicated career was securing the freedom of Clemente Aguirre, who was exonerated after serving 14 years in custody, 10 of them on Florida’s death row. Today, Aguirre is a member of the FADP Board of Directors. While at CCRC, Maria also litigated two cases under a death warrant, so she has experienced the collateral damage that executions bring to all parties involved – victims’ families, corrections staff, judges, lawyers, jurors, and the family members of the condemned.
In June 2022, Maria took the helm of FADP, bringing her experience, passion, and deep commitment to justice to the cause of ending the death penalty in Florida.
Bridget Maloney, FADP Communications Coordinator. While completing her degrees in Biology and Applied Sociology at the University of Tampa, Bridget continued interning with the ACLU of Florida in the Criminal Justice Reform Campaign. In this role, she participated in Lobby Day for the Amendment 4 campaign and had the opportunity to work on bail, driver’s license, and sentencing reform efforts. After graduating from college in 2020, Bridget began a six-month full-time internship in the Statewide Initiatives Department at the ACLU of Florida. In this role, she was responsible for communicating information between the state affiliate and various Chapters. She worked on police reform efforts in targeted cities across Florida and has continued in this role as a volunteer.
Bridget came to FADP in early 2021 and began working as a part-time Administrative Assistant. She quickly realized her deep passion for abolition work and soon increased her hours and responsibilities with the organization. Now, Bridget serves as FADP’s full-time Communications Coordinator. In this role, Bridget is responsible for cultivating and retaining FADP’s network of thousands of supporters. In addition, she creates and implements the tools and resources members use in their advocacy efforts. This year, Bridget began her adventure as a first-year law student while continuing to work full-time for FADP. This allows her the unique advantage of having knowledge of the law and practice within the law. She plans to graduate with her JD and continue to stand up fearlessly for the most vulnerable members of our society.
Sheila Meehan, FADP Board Chair, is retired from a diverse career that most recently included serving as assistant director of the Florida Alliance for Consumer Protection. Early in her career Sheila was a corporate researcher at the national headquarters of the AFL-CIO in Washington, D.C. and a labor organizer for the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild, where she organized reporters at the Washington Post and the Baltimore Sun. She later became Administrator of the Community Services Team for the national pro bono department of Holland & Knight LLP, where she assisted in representation of two prisoners on Florida’s death row. Sheila became a founding staff member of the Innocence Project of Florida, serving as Assistant Director during a period that included a record number of people exonerated and released from Florida’s death row.
Rachel Newman, Esq., FADP Board Secretary, obtained her Bachelor of Arts at the University of Florida and subsequently received her Juris Doctorate from Nova Southeastern University Law School. Rachel has been an Assistant Public Defender in Broward County, Florida, since 2005. Throughout her career, Rachel has represented clients in Misdemeanor, Juvenile, and Felony court, including clients assigned to Repeat Offender Court, children charged in adult court (Direct-File), and juvenile clients entitled to resentencing according to Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012). In addition, Rachel served as Chief Assistant in the Felony Division, where she helped mentor and supervise attorneys. Currently, Rachel is assigned to the Major Crimes division and primarily handles capital and non-capital homicides. She is dedicated to fighting the death penalty one case, one client at a time, and considers the opportunity to do this work one of the most important and humbling experiences in her life. Rachel lives in South Florida with her husband and daughter.
Krista Dolan, Esq., FADP Board Treasurer, is a Senior Staff Attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Criminal Justice Reform practice group. Before joining SPLC, Krista worked on post-conviction issues for eight years, first with a public defender agency and then with the Innocence Project of Florida, before serving as the chief advisor in the Florida House Democratic Office for the Justice and Finance & Taxation silos. Krista received her Master’s in Applied American Politics and Policy, her Juris Doctorate from Florida State University, and her LL.M. in Law & Government at American University with a concentration in civil rights and constitutional law. She is the author of several publications and currently serves as the Treasurer of the Public Interest Law Section of The Florida Bar.
Clemente Aguirre was wrongfully convicted in Florida and sentenced to death on February 28, 2006 after false forensic fingerprint evidence linked him to the murder of a mother and daughter, his neighbors. Twelve years later, new DNA testing and a confession from the actual perpetrator led the Florida Supreme Court to unanimously overturn his conviction. Two years later, the State Attorney dropped the charges and on November 5, 2018, Clemente became the 28th person exonerated from Florida’s death row. He was never compensated for his 14-year ordeal. Today, Clemente volunteers his time with FADP and our partners at Witness to Innocence, sharing his story and fighting to end the death penalty so that others do not have to experience the same injustices that he suffered.
Ira W. Bates, Ph.D. is Chair of Accounting, Finance and Business Law departments at Florida A&M University. A veteran of the United States Air Force, he has experience in both the public and private accounting sectors. Dr. Bates has authored/co authored numerous journal articles and reviewed several books. Dr.Bates is committed to issues related to homelessness and social justice reform.
Laura Finley, Ph.D. is a Professor of Sociology & Criminology at Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida. She is the author, co-author, or editor of more than 30 books, numerous journal articles and book chapters, as well as a syndicated columnist with PeaceVoice. In addition, Dr. Finley is a member of many human rights, social justice and peace organizations and serves on the Board of Directors of The Humanity Project and the Peace and Justice Studies Association.
Joyce Hamilton, Ph.D., MSW is Director of Statewide Initiatives for the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Florida and is based in Tampa. Dr. Hamilton received a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Connecticut School of Social Work and a doctorate in Social Policy from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. She was an Adjunct Professor at the University of Hartford in African American Studies and in the Departments of Sociology and Psychology. Joyce is known for her contributions in the field of social work and is published on the experience of Caribbean immigrants. She has expertise in a range of issues including race and ethnic relations, immigrant rights, voting rights, felon disenfranchisement and civic engagement. She is the author of No One Asked Us: The Under-representation of African Americans and Latinos on Local Boards and Commissions.
Christine Henderson has always been a fierce advocate for social justice change. She is the Senior Manager of EJUSA’s Trauma & Healing Network, which supports communities and their grassroots leaders in addressing trauma in transformative ways that promote healing and create systemic change. Previously, she elevated local voices to speak out about the chaos in Florida’s death penalty system, a cause that remains close to her heart. Prior to EJUSA, Christine worked at the Southern Poverty Law Center and was instrumental in building the case against an abusive juvenile justice facility that ultimately led to its closure.
Mary Anne Hoffman, has been an advocate for ending the death penalty since 1982. Throughout her work and volunteer career, Mary Anne has always centered issues of social justice, including affordable housing, homelessness, adult literacy, and public benefits issues. In 2014, Mary Anne retired from the State of Florida Office on Homelessness, where she was a program coordinator. Mary Anne is the current chairperson of Tallahassee Citizens Against the Death Penalty, FADP’s sister organization. She also serves on the boards of Kindred Spirits Charitable Trust.
Natishia Y. June is the Field Director for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida, and a Jacksonville native. Natishia is a proud graduate of Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (FAMU) with a degree in Criminal Justice. She is very passionate about social justice, especially issues involving the protection of women’s rights/ liberation, criminal justice, and voting rights. Natishia is one of the founding members of the Justice 4 Jacksonville Coalition, a coalition to reduce death sentences in the 4th Judicial Circuit. Natishia also serves in other civic organizations such as the Interfaith Coalition for Action, Reconciliation and Empowerment (ICARE), where she is on the Restorative Justice & Crime Committees, on the Business Advisory Council with the City Rescue Mission, and as Chairwoman of the Jacksonville Juvenile Justice Coalition & JCE Faith Committee. In the past she has served as a member of the Women’s Academic & Cultural Society working with young people, the National Council of Negro Women, and National Black HIV/AIDS Network. Natishia previously worked as Project Manager for a faith-based youth program FISH Kids, Inc. and as a Health Educator for Shisa Inc. conducting HIV/AIDS testing, education and outreach to high-risk populations.
Herman Lindsey was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death in 2006. In July 2009, after three painful years on death row, he was fully exonerated. Writing in a unanimous decision, the Florida Supreme Court wrote, “the state had failed to produce any evidence in this case placing Lindsey at the scene of the crime at the time of the murder,” and that the evidence presented was “equally consistent with a reasonable hypothesis of innocence.” After his exoneration, Herman became an advocate for criminal justice reform, assitance for the wrongfully convicted, and ending the death penalty. He is actively involved with Witness to Innocence and FADP and hosts an online show, “Cruel Justice.” Herman resides in S. Florida with his wife and children.
Lin Liu, Ph.D. is an assistant professor at Florida International University. Her research and expertise revolve around criminal justice actors’ focal concerns, criminal offending trajectories, the heterogeneous needs of released prisoners, and quantitative methodologies. She has kept an active research agenda, and her research has appeared in a broad scope of social science journals such as Crime & Delinquency, Justice Quarterly, and Sociological Inquiry.
Masimba Mutamba, Esq. is an Assistant County Attorney with the Palm Beach County Attorney’s Office. He regularly advises County departments on various legal issues, including government transparency, data privacy, and constitutional and civil rights matters. Before working for Palm Beach County, Masimba was the inaugural William A. Trine Fellow at the Human Rights Defense Center. As a member of that non-profit’s litigation team, Masimba worked on state and federal lawsuits across the country to defend the human rights of incarcerated people in the nation’s jails, prisons, and detention centers. In this role, Masimba observed first-hand how difficult–and often tragically impossible–it is to right the wrongs of the criminal justice system. With that in mind, Masimba remains committed to ensuring that the law recognizes, advances, and defends all persons’ rights, obligations, and liberties. Masimba graduated with Distinction from the University of Glasgow Law School in Scotland and magna cum laude from the University of Miami School of Law.
David V. Peery, J.D., is the founder of the Miami Coalition to Advance Racial Equity, a multiracial alliance of organizations advancing social justice in housing, healthcare, and voting rights. David also serves as the Chair of the Consumer Advisory Board of the Camillus Health Concern community clinic, which serves the homeless population of Miami. He is active in several national homeless rights organizations and is the Secretary of the Board of Directors for the National Health Care for the Homeless Council. David has a law degree from George Washington University and works as a grant writer and health care regulatory compliance consultant.
Nancy O’Byrne, retired in 2004 as Director of Leasing for a commercial real estate company in downtown Jacksonville. She decided to take a more meaningful path in her life by devoting much of her time to advocacy for peace and justice issues in her church and in her community. Her roles have included Chairwoman of the Catholic Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission for 13 years (2000 – 2013), for which she was awarded the Thomas A. Horkan, Jr. Distinguished Catholic Leader Award by the Florida Bishops in 2012; Advocacy Chairwoman on the Board of Catholic Charities in the Diocese, and Organizer of Compassion in Action, the criminal justice and prison reform initiative of Compassionate St. Augustine. Nancy was awarded the Law and Spirituality Award from the Diocesan Catholic Lawyers Guild in 2019. She is the Board Secretary of Home Again St. Johns, a non-profit which helps the homeless population in St. Johns county. Nancy and her husband have been married for 28 years. They have 3 grown children and 8 beautiful grandsons.
Agustin Quiles is the founder of Mission Talk, an organization that equips Latinos around justice and advocacy and brings them together on faith and values to build influence and make a difference in vulnerable communities. Agustin’s work includes advocating and mobilizing for educational equity, immigration reform, criminal justice reform, ending poverty, and global compassion work. Agustin has served in several leadership roles, including Director of Mobilization for the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, Florida Representative for the Evangelical Immigration Table / National Immigration Forum, National Director for Hispanic Partnerships at Wycliffe USA. He has partnered or served as a consultant for several organizations, including Faith In Action, FRACEEV (Florida Fellowship of Hispanic Evangelical Councils), Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, Urban Strategies, Cru, InterVarsity, World Out Spoken, Live Free, City Seminary of New York, Lilly Endowment Latino Initiatives, AETH, Leadership Education at Duke University and many faith-based organizations.
Elizabeth Hogan Webb, Esq. is an assistant public defender with the Office of the Public Defender, Fourth Judicial Circuit of Florida; she is the sole appellate attorney in that office and has handled hundreds of matters advocating for the indigent accused at all stages of their court proceedings. She has several significant published appeal cases and has authored chapters in Florida Bar publications. As an assistant public defender, Elizabeth has represented clients who were sentenced to life without the possibility of parole as juveniles but were later eligible for resentencing under the Graham v. Florida U.S. Supreme Court case (one such client was released after having been sentenced to life without parole at the age of 14 and spending 43 years behind bars). She is a 1986 graduate of the Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania and a 1989 graduate of the University of Florida Levin College of Law. Elizabeth is a past president of the Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine Catholic Lawyers Guild and has been active in her parish for many years. She and her husband, Jack, have three grown children.
Roger L. Weeden, Esq. is a Criminal and Capital Defense Attorney in Orlando, Florida. Over the last several decades, Roger has taken on and tried some of the most difficult, complex and serious cases in Central Florida, including over thirty-five homicide cases, in seven of which the State sought death. Notably, he has twice represented women accused of murdering their husbands and obtained jury acquittals for both. Roger’s skill as a criminal defense attorney has been recognized by his peers within the Central Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, who in 2017 bestowed on him the Joseph W. DuRocher “Foot Soldier of the Constitution” award, recognizing his significant achievements in Court and the Community. Roger is an active member of the National Lawyers Guild, Police Accountability Project and Mass Defense Committee. He is also Co-Chair of the Criminal Justice Sector of the CRC Network, a trauma informed organization seeking to bring recognition of trauma and resilience to the community. Roger has an undergraduate degree in English Literature from the University of Florida and a Juris Doctorate from DePaul University College of Law.
Ralph (Ron) Wright, Jr. is Florida’s 27th exonerated Death Row survivor and a native of Orlando, Florida. In January 2009, he was erroneously arrested and charged with two counts of capital murder for which he was later wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death. His case came before the Florida Supreme Court on direct review in April 2017. The Court unanimously concluded Mr. Wright had been wrongfully convicted of these charges and ordered the judgement reversed, the sentences of death be vacated, and remanded the case back to the trial court with directions to enter judgements of acquittal. He was released in July 2017. Prior to his wrongful conviction, Mr. Wright was a career law enforcement officer and military veteran, having served for 20 years in the United States Air Force in law enforcement, personnel and resources protection, and counter-terrorism capacities. He is a veteran of Operation Desert Shield & Desert Storm, and following the events of Sep 11, 2001, he was recalled to active duty and served in Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom, Southern Watch, and Iraqi Freedom. He also served the Central Florida community with two Florida law enforcement agencies in the respective Road Patrol divisions. Mr. Wright brings the rare perspective of having been extensively involved in the criminal justice community. He now advocates for the abolition of the death penalty, and other much needed criminal justice reforms. He is also a member of Witness to Innocence and offers his insight and experiences through speaking engagements across the United States and Canada. Upon his return to the private sector, he re-entered the commercial transportation industry and currently provides entertainment and special event transportation services throughout the U.S. and Canada.