Aaron Salter was born August 15th 1982, in Houston Texas. His family moved to Detroit, Michigan in 1986. As a child Aaron was energetic, he and his older brother Andrew loved sports. For years, the pair played basketball together, but in Aaron’s junior year he found a new love, and started playing football!
Aaron played football throughout the rest of his school days. He graduated from Detroit’s Kettering High School in 2001! In the Autumn of 2001, Aaron began attending UAPB in Arkansas on a partial football scholarship. Due to financial issues, he was fatefully forced to return home in 2002.
After returning home to Detroit, there was more bad luck for Aaron. but nothing could be as bad as what happened in August 2003, just days after his 21st birthday. Aaron was arrested for premeditated murder after being falsely identified by a shaken up witness. While Mr. Salter was upset by this false claim he did not worry because he was innocent. Unfortunately due to ineffective counsel by his court appointed defender, his case made it to a jury trial. Aaron was shocked and appalled when he received a guilty verdict for crimes he did not commit.
His lawyer had failed him, and so did the justice system.
Because he was young and inexperienced with the judicial system, Aaron did not know his rights. He had no idea he could’ve gotten a different lawyer. On January 12th, 2004, Aaron Salter was sentenced to natural life in prison for murder. In addition he received 2, 20-40 year sentences for attempted murder, and 2 more years for a weapons charge.
Over the next 15 years Aaron fought for his freedom, filing appeal after appeal. Even the victim’s families thought that Aaron was innocent, and the witness recanted his original testimony. While the truth came out in some of these processes the appellate courts said there was still not enough evidence to reverse the initial ruling. In 2009, a judge appointed Johnathan Epstein, from the federal defenders unit, to work on Aaron’s case, and 5 years later, in 2014 Aaron volunteered to take a polygraph to prove his credibility.
It wasn’t until 2018, with the formation of the Wayne County Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU), that Aaron had the chance to have his case looked at again. In April 2018, his lawyer submitted his case for review. He was quickly found to be innocent and was exonerated of all charges!!
Finally, on August 15th 2018, Aaron Salter walked out of prison a free man. It was his 36th birthday, and his freedom was the best gift he could have ever received.
As an exonerated man who spent so much time fighting for his freedom, Aaron has decided to help other people that are facing similar situations to his own. He has started the nonprofit organization Innocence Maintained to assist in the exoneration processes of others and to support exonerated people with their reintroduction to society.