A woman who was found guilty of murdering her own son but who has since been exonerated will be speaking publicly for the first time about the case tonight in Springfield. Julie Rea was found guilty of murdering her ten year old son Joel in the small town of Lawrenceville in 1997. But with the help of the Illinois Innocence Project, she was released from prison and granted a Certificate of Innocence. Rea is speaking in Springfield about her experience as someone who was wrongfully convicted of a crime. Rea says she's decided to cope with the trauma of her past by helping other people in similar situations:
"There are people who are in prison that are wrongly there, they're innocent and they shouldn't be there, and I want to help get them out, and in addition to that there are people there who are there but are being mistreated badly. And I don't care what anybody's done. I always used to tell Joel, you know, the way you treat people tells you who you are, not who they are."
Rea says she hopes to spread the message that when someone is wrongfully convicted of a crime, the actual perpetrators often go on to commit similar crimes again. A known serial killer eventually confessed to the murder of Rea's son. Rea will speak tonight at the University of Illinois Springfield.
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