'Extraordinary miscarriage of justice'
Khalid Baker, who served a 13-year prison sentence for the murder of a young Melbourne man, wants his conviction overturned, telling 60 Minutes he is innocent of the crime he was jailed for.
A campaign to clear Khalid Baker's name is moving forward with a petition for judicial mercy raised with the Victorian Attorney-General.
In an emotional interview with 60 Minutes reporter Allison Langdon, Baker says he will never stop fighting to be declared an innocent man.
"When you know you're innocent, you will fight to the day you die," he told 60 Minutes.
"I will never plead guilty, I haven't done nothing wrong. I'm not going to plead guilty for something I didn't do."
In 2008, Khalid Baker was found guilty of the murder of 22-year-old Melbourne man Albert Snowball, who fell through a window to his death after a fight broke out at a warehouse party in Brunswick, Victoria.
But from the day Snowball died, Khalid Baker has maintained his innocence – telling police he wasn't anywhere near Albert Snowball when he fell, a claim confirmed by two witnesses at the scene.
Khalid Baker's childhood friend LM – who cannot be identified for legal reasons – told 60 Minutes he is sure he was the last person to touch Snowball before he died, meaning Khalid Baker could not be responsible for the murder.
"I feel responsible for it, definitely. I was the last person that was fighting him," LM told Langdon.
"I am saying Khalid wasn't there when me and Snowball were fighting, but yet they won't believe that."
Despite LM's admission to being the last person involved in the fight with Snowball, police charged both friends with murder.
In a shocking verdict, a jury found LM not guilty but sentenced Baker to 17-years in prison with a non-parole period of 12 years.
The law at the time meant Khalid could not use LM's confession to prove his innocence because it was made outside of a court room. The 'hearsay' law has since been changed, considered archaic and absurd.
Michele Ruyters runs the Innocence Initiative at RMIT University, taking on Khalid Baker's case and submitting his petition for mercy to Victoria's Attorney-General.
She told 60 Minutes that Baker's innocence could not be clearer cut.
"It's an extraordinary miscarriage of justice," she told Langdon.
"There's absolutely no doubt Khalid Baker is innocent."
Rutyers, who alongside her team has spent thousands of hours reviewing evidence in the case, believes race played a key role in determining Baker's guilt.
"The prosecution pretty much said this themselves…this is a case of black versus white," Rutyers said.
"I have no other option but to say I think they chose to believe the white witnesses."
Khalid Baker also believes there was a reason the jury chose to believe the witnesses who pointed the finger of blame at him.
"They couldn't tell who was who, it was just black guys who all looked the same. That's what I believe."
Knowing Baker spent his youth in prison for a crime he is sure Baker didn't commit has left LM wracked with guilt.
"I feel like if there was anybody that had gone to jail for this it should have been me, but it's not," he told 60 Minutes.
Khalid Baker has since forgiven his friend LM, moving forward to live his life with a positive and resilient attitude.
Now released from prison, Baker has returned to his first love of boxing, taking out the Victoria welterweight title and working towards becoming a world champion.
But while he's on top in the ring, in the eyes of the law he remains a convicted murderer – and won't be truly free until that's overturned.
"From the moment this happened, all Khalid has wanted to do is clear his name," Michele Rutyers told 60 Minutes.
"He needs the world to know he didn't do this, that he's not capable of committing murder."
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