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Tulane 1L Served 12 Years in Prison for Second-Degree Murder of College Prof

Posted Sep 16, 2011 7:59 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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First-year Tulane law student Bruce Reilly has worked as a community activist and organizer, written plays and authored a blog. But he’s getting attention for his criminal past.

Reilly, 38, served 12 years in prison in Rhode Island after pleading no contest to the second-degree murder and robbery of community college professor Charles Russell, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. Reilly had been hitchhiking in 1992 when Russell picked him up and took him to his home. There was a fight, the Times-Picayune says, and Reilly fatally stabbed Russell and stole his car and credit cards.

Above the Law broke the story to a widespread audience earlier this week. But Reilly had already revealed his past on his own blog, Unprison, after realizing that his classmates were talking and evidently finding his blog by Googling “Bruce Reilly murder.” In response, he offered a post and a picture of a T-shirt with the words, “F--- Google, ask me.”

“Some of you may be reading this article subsequent to a Google search,” he wrote in a post that has since been removed. Above the Law posted a paragraph. “Perhaps you are the person whose Friend Request I ignored, as you may have tried that route to know me: look at all my photos, read my info, check my Wall, and know me as if we were tight since grade school. We live in a passive-aggressive culture of curiosity and fear. The former is an admirable trait, while the latter is what allows us to be controlled. … Lets cut to the chase: I killed a man 19 years ago.”

Reilly told the Times-Picayune he has tried to make up for the crime by living his life helping other people. He was a jailhouse lawyer in prison and wants to use the law to improve the criminal justice system. One of Reilly’s friends told Above the law he is “the nicest guy you’ll ever meet,” he’s articulate, and he’s good at “crystallizing arguments.”

Law dean David Meyer gave a statement to both publications. "We evaluate each law school applicant as an individual, taking into account all available information bearing on their character, life story and academic qualifications. Our admission process also allows for exceptional circumstances if the prospective student's experience and background will contribute to his and his peers' study and appreciation of various aspects of the law,” Meyer said in the statement to the Times-Picayune.

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