"When they sentenced me to death, my heart got full of hate," said Melendez. "I hated the prosecutor, hated the judge, hated the jury and I hated my defense lawyer."
Melendez sat on death row for 17 years 8 months and 1 day before he was released in 2002. His release came after his new attorney found a confession tape made by the actual killer -- evidence that the prosecution withheld during Melendez's trial.
Melendez said he felt like a cartoon character that was hit on the head with a hammer when he was released.
"He got a ring of stars around his head," said Melendez. "He's in a state of shock, but he's smiling. That's how I was."
Now, Melendez lives in New Mexico. He tours the world to speak against the death penalty.
Melendez says that the money used on the death penalty can be used instead to get better equipment which could help police officers correctly identify criminals.
Melendez believes that innocent lives are being risked by the death penalty. He says that life in prison is punishment enough for people who commit murder.
"Prison is not a picnic," said Melendez. "Believe me, they want out of there. You can always release a man from prison, we don't have a problem with that, but you can never, I repeat never release an innocent man from the grave."