“We worked 24 hours a day, day and night, all week before the execution date,” Ms Piel wrote in a 2003 essay on the case. “Computers and their printers weren’t that available back then; we only had typewriters.
Ms. Piel and Ms. Garrett appealed the conviction to the Florida Supreme Court in Tallahassee, which ruled against them. With less than 16 hours remaining, they asked Judge George C. Carr of the Federal District Court in Tampa for a stay of execution.
“The judge had before him all of the pleadings that we had filed in state court,” Ms. Piel wrote. “Judge Carr looked at the pile of papers and said, ‘I can’t read these papers until 7 o’clock tomorrow morning. The stay of execution is granted.
In 1988, after lawyers implicated the news media – including the Washington Post, Miami Herald and ABC News “20/20” magazine – the brothers were allowed to plead guilty to murder in exchange for their release.
Their plea meant that charges could not be brought against the real killer, despite the fact, Ms Piel wrote, that “there was ample evidence to convict him of this crime”.
“It was a travesty,” she told Transcript Magazine, a publication of her alma mater, University of California, Berkeley, Law School, in 2009. “But they got released.”
Ms. Piel’s interest in advocating for the marginalized began, she says, in childhood.
Eleanor Virden Jackson was born on September 22, 1920 in Santa Monica, California. His father, Louis, a doctor, was a Lithuanian Jew. (The original surname was Koussevitzky – conductor Serge Koussevitzky was a cousin – which, upon arriving in the United States, Louis changed to Jackson, the most American surname he could conceive .)