Man Exonerated from Murder Conviction Speaks at APU

by APU Life

Wrongly convicted of murder, Nick Yarris spent 21 years on prison’s death row before his exoneration. On October 29, he spoke to students in the new Department of Criminal Justice, describing his journey through endless legal battles, years of incarceration, and his reentrance into society.

DNA evidence revealed in 2003 finally excluded him from all biological material connected with the crime. Though he admits to making poor choices at that point in his life, the recovering drug addict now shows an amazing level of compassion and mercy for all officers he encountered while in prison and all those involved in his case.

His book, 7 Days to Live (CreateSpace, 2013), eloquently recounts his triumph over adversity, providing insight into the human condition and how to take responsibility for one’s life. He shares his own mistakes and faults, describing how he made conscious choices to change from within. The compelling story also caught the attention of filmmakers and resulted in the recently released The Fear of 13, a documentary featured at the London Film Festival October 10 and 17, 2015, that follows Yarris’ life on death row and his struggle for freedom.

Yarris discussed some of the complex issues tackled daily by APU’s criminal justice students. The program launched in fall 2015 with nearly 30 students seeking a variety of career paths, such as law enforcement officer, correctional officer, police chief, case manager, attorney, forensic psychologist, private investigator, cyber security and prevention specialist, homeland security officer, and more. Under the leadership of Deshonna Collier-Goubil, Ph.D., chair and associate professor of the Department of Criminal Justice, these aspiring professionals look critically at the criminal justice system, examining the theories of crime and justice, and learning to identify disparities and inequalities. “As serious Christian scholars, our students must be able to evaluate every aspect of this discipline, including what happens to convicted felons upon their release at the end of their sentence,” said Collier-Goubil. “Our hope is to expose these students to multiple views of the system from every angle. We were honored to have Nick Yarris give us his unique perspective.”

Originally published in the Winter '15 issue of APU Life. Download the PDF or view all issues.