Fred Steese spent more than 20 years behind bars in Nevada for a murder he didn’t commit, and, even though he’s now been freed, Steese could still find his way back to prison.
After a Nevada court found Fred Steese did not kill Gerard Soules, a Las Vegas Strip entertainer, he now faces extradition to Florida for a parole violation there from more than 20 years ago.
Steese was originally convicted of murder in 1992 but agreed to a sentence of life without the possibility of parole to avoid the death penalty.
“I knew from the beginning that I was innocent, so I just kept fighting until somebody listened,” he said. “Judge (Elissa) Cadish, she listened and made the right ruling.”
Cadish did in fact find Steese innocent based on new evidence that he was actually out of the state at the time of the murder.
“Given everything additional that we now know, I am finding that it is more likely than not no reasonable juror would’ve found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Cadish, who serves in the 8th Judicial District Court. She arranged for Steese to plead no contest to second degree murder to resolve the matter without further litigation.
Steese’s case mirrors another courtroom reversal. In New York, David Ranta was freed from prison after spending more than 20 years for murdering a Rabbi during a jewel heist. A judge said Ranta’s trial was a miscarriage of justice and ordered the man freed.
For Fred Steese, the story may not have such a happy ending. The state of Florida wants Fred Steese to return to jail for three years for failing to report to his parole officer more than 25 years ago.
“He was convicted in Florida,” Jane Tillman of the Florida Parole Commission told KLAS-TV in Las Vegas. “He was released and placed in supervision to follow as part of his sentence. He absconded, he never showed up for his supervision and therefore he’s being brought back to the state of Florida to serve 1,189 days with the Florida Department of Corrections.”
There is still a chance Fred Steese could stay out of jail. If Florida does not extradite him by early April, Steese will be able to go free.