This article is sponsored by Conviction: A Jia Wertz Film
Wrongful convictions happen, and they happen more than anyone would like to admit. Can you imagine being caught up in a brutal series of events, that you have nothing to do with it? That’s exactly what happened to Jeffrey Deskovic. He was convicted of the rape and murder of a high school classmate at the age of 17 until DNA evidence helped exonerate him years later at age 33. Deskovic was never responsible for the attack, and worse yet, when they discovered who actually committed the crime — Steven Cunningham — the murderer had also taken the life of a school teacher.
That story is explored in detail in a new short documentary called Conviction. Created by Jia Wertz, the documentary premiered at the Greenwich International Film Festival and saw success on the festival circuit. The short was selected at over a dozen festivals including NewFilmmakers NY, Cannes International Independent Film Festival, Georgia Documentary Film Festival, Beeston Film Festival, Best Shorts Fest, and was the recipient of numerous awards. It is now being featured on Amazon, where it’s available to watch.
Currently, Wertz is working on the final stages of post-production for a feature-length documentary of the same story.
Jia Wertz Films, helmed by the director and filmmaker of the same name, will explore the same topics, weaving through the vagaries and inconsistencies of the American criminal justice system, as told through the experiences of Jeffrey Deskovic and other exonerees that have had their freedom restored at the cost of irreparable damage to their minds, relationships, and families.
Jia Wertz is also a featured writer for Forbes and has also contributed to many publications, in the field of filmmaking, fashion and business, and she’s also a fashion designer for Studio 15.
Since his exoneration, Jeffrey Deskovic has become a renowned speaker and activist on wrongful convictions and the death penalty. He’s spoken at numerous events and venues, with appearances on CNN, in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and beyond. But the story of Conviction, the short documentary (and soon to be a full-length film) by Wertz, is not about his immense success since his release, but instead about how everything played out when he was much younger and the difficulties of reintegrating into society after a wrongful conviction.
On November 15, 1989, a 15-year-old high school student named Angela Correa went outside to capture photos for a class project she was involved in. Two days later, her body was discovered near the local elementary school. Her killer had beaten, raped, and strangled her.
Through a series of events, Jeffrey Deskovic became the prime suspect, just 16 at the time it all started, and eventually convicted for the rape and murder of Angela Correa — at 17 years old. The documentary reveals what happened, how Deskovic came to be arrested and later convicted, and also digs into the evidence, or lack thereof, at the time.
What happened to Deskovic is terrifying, but Correa’s fate is even more horrific, as is the fate of the teacher the true killer would eventually harm. How could the American justice system allow this to happen? How could it convict an innocent high school student, and how has it affected his life through the years? Why did Steven Cunningham, the true killer, roam free for so long? These questions are answered in the short documentary, available to watch now on Amazon, and will also be explored in greater detail in the full-length documentary that’s soon to come.
Featuring hosts John Gully and Jia Wertz, the Speaking of Crime podcast, available on a bevy of platforms, covers a collection of true crime stories, including missing person cases, the wrongfully convicted, and murder. One of the most recent cases covered on the podcast includes the Gabby Petito murder case and the [eventually tragic] search for Brian Laundrie. Both hosts are very respectful of the victims and cases, covering everything you need to know about the related events and the involved contacts.
It’s an excellent source of stories, mysteries, and recaps for lovers of true crime told from the perspective of hosts that understand the investigative world.
If you’re on the hunt for a great podcast to listen to during your morning runs, commute, or in your downtime, you can find Speaking of Crime on Audible, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and more. There are over 20 episodes available, spanning as far back as September 2021, with new episodes arriving weekly. So, there’s plenty of true crime content for anyone that’s interested!
Between Conviction, now streaming on Amazon Video, the Speaking of Crime podcast, and her other engagements, Jia Wertz is certainly busy! Moreover, there’s plenty of content to digest if you’re a true crime aficionado.
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