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(LOS ANGELES) — A California woman convicted of murder for the death of her ex-boyfriend was freed Friday after 17 years in prison.

A Los Angeles judge overturned Susan Mellen’s conviction, saying she is innocent and was failed by the justice system.

Mellen received a life sentence without the possibility of parole following the 1997 incident in which the victim was bludgeoned, set on fire, and dumped in an alley.

“I had a counselor tell me one time I was never going to go home that I was going to go home in a pine box,” Mellen said.

Her fight for freedom was led by organization Innocence Matters, which works to free wrongfully convicted individuals.

“I’ve always forgave my enemies. Even your haters you have to forgive them and sometimes you have to thank them because they bring you closer to God,” Mellen said.

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