In 2003, Aaron Salter was convicted of murdering a 26-year-old man he had never met and was sentenced to life without parole. After fighting to prove his innocence for 15 years, Salter was exonerated in 2018 when the Wayne County Conviction Unit re-investigated the case and found Salter had been mistakenly identified by a witness.
Today, Salter is an activist on a mission to free others who have been wrongly convicted. He recently sat down with Mike and Kevin to tell his unbelievable story and how it’s inspired him to create his non-profit Innocence Maintained, an organization that works to free others who have been convicted of crimes they didn’t commit.
[0:05] Introducing today’s guest, Aaron Salter
[1:18] How old are you? Where are you from?
[1:35] Tell me about your childhood
[2:20] Where did you go to high school?
[2:52] Where did you go to college?
[4:12] Did you get a job when you came back?
[5:31] Did you plan on playing football when you got home?
[6:22] Check out Aaron’s project Innocence Maintained.
[6:34] What was going in your life before August 6, 2003
[7:31] Where you involved in shady activities before?
[8:36] What happened after you saw your cousin get shot?
[9:40] Where there gangs involved in this?
[10:24] How long did you stay with your other cousin?
[10:58] Mike explains what happened on August 6th
[12:18] Can you take us through what happened when the police arrested you the first time?
[14:17] Did you hear about the shooting before the police talked to you?
[17:06] Can you tell me about the photo the police officer found of you?
[20:41] Were you arrested on just looking like the gunman?
[21:39] When were you arrested for the shooting?
[22:54] Why was your lawyer for the murder case?
[24:23] Did you own a car or a gun at the time?
[25:24] Did your lawyer ever meet with your alibi witnesses?
[26:34] Did you get a preliminary exam and who was the judge?
[27:14] Aaron did not get time to prepare for his trial
[27:53] How long did your lawyer meet with you before trial?
[29:39] Who was the prosecutor at the time?
[30:03] Mike explains how short 20-30 minutes is
[31:10] Did you testify?
[32:34] What was going through your mind as you were waiting for your trial?
[34:48] There was no physical evidence that connected Aaron to the crime
[36:15] During the trial, did you think that you stood a chance?
[37:52] Did you hear the victim’s sister say that she didn’t think it was you?
[40:45] How did you feel during sentencing?
[42:41] Did you have a lawyer for your first appeal?
[45:06] Who asked you to take a polygraph test?
[46:19] Was Earlean Collins the shooter? Why did he give you an affidavit?
[47:33] Did you befriend Earlean?
[48:42] The man who said it was Aaron recanted
[50:00] “The Wayne County Prosecutor’s office saved you”
[50:45] The Wayne County Conviction Integrity Unit
[53:44] Aaron’s case was dismissed in 2018
[56:12] How did you find out that you were exonerated?
[57:02] Aaron explains what prison was like
[59:08] Did you have hope when you were in prison?
[1:00:09] Did they ever convict the right person?
[1:01:53] How did you get through those 15 years?
[1:03:01] How did so many things go wrong?
[1:04:27] How many wrongfully convicted people do you think are in prison?
[1:05:36] How did you feel when you heard Kym Worthy’s statement about you?
[1:07:52] What was it like returning to normal day to day life? Are there support organizations?
[1:09:59] How is your mental health? Are you getting help?
[1:10:39] What are you currently doing to help other people who were wrongfully convicted?
[1:12:22] Check out the house here.
[1:14:34] How are you paying to maintain the house?
[1:15:38] What is your vision for your organization? Donate here.
[1:17:20] What is on your wish list?
[1:18:36] Do exonerees need the same help as other people who did their time?
[1:21:35] If people don’t get help, they often end up reconvicted
[1:23:25] Text 833-898-6453 to help
[1:26:07] “Bitterness affects you, not the other person”
[1:26:49] Thank you for watching this episode of Open Mike.