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Innocent ex-convict to lecture about life journey

Dewey Bozella, an amateur boxer who made his professional debut two weeks ago, served 26 years in prison for the murder of an elderly woman in 1977.

It wasn’t until 2009 that the justice system affirmed that Bozella was innocent all along.

After winning his first and only professional match earlier this month, Bozella speaks tonight at 8 at the Marshall Student Center Oval Theater as a part of the University Lecture Series (ULS).

In an interview with The Oracle, Bozella said he will speak about his story from beginning to end – the difficulties, the struggles and the conflicts.

“I will be dealing with fear, commitment, determination, hope and faith,” Bozella said. “In life, we all have something we go through, but it’s how you get back up from those things and how you see yourself at the end.”

Bozella said he wants to encourage people to make better decisions in life.

“I think once I get there, (USF) will understand the kind of person I am and why I want to speak there,” he said. “My main thing is to let (USF) see to never give up. Never let fear determine who you are, and never let where you come from determine where you are going. That’s my motto.”

In 1983, at the age of 23, Bozella was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a 92-year-old New York woman.

According to ABC News, there was no physical evidence that linked him with the crime, but two convicts reported seeing him bicycling there.

The child of a father who beat his pregnant mother to death, and the brother of two men killed by violence, Bozella firmly maintained his innocence.

If he said he was guilty, he would have been offered several plea deals allowing him to leave jail. He pleaded innocent four times.

“I pray (for) the encouragement similarly on the lines of people who may be going through struggles and conflicts in their life,” Bozella said. “(I hope they) will see that through persistence, through the things I didn’t do.”

Bozella spent his days in prison training at the Sing Sing Correctional Facility gym and earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree in theology.

He wrote weekly to the Innocence Project, which took on cases dealing with wrongfully convicted individuals. The organization, after four years, referred Bozella’s case to Wilmer Hale, a major law firm that found all police evidence in the case had been destroyed.

According to the New York Times, after reviewing the material, Justice James T. Rooney of the State Supreme Court ruled Oct. 14, 2009, that Bozella had been wrongfully convicted, and he was immediately released.

“My journey has been a 32-year journey,” he said. “Can you take yourself from a bad situation and make a better situation out of it? That’s what this is all about. I look at myself and my story.”

ULS contacted Bozella through his talent agency. His lecture cost $8,500 and included his speaking cost and travel expenses, Director of Marketing for ULS Spencer Southard said.

Admission is free and 20 percent of the seats will be reserved for the public until 15 minutes before the lecture starts. Students will need to bring their USF ID to stand in the student line to gain entry.