Donna Hylton, a convicted murderer involved in kidnapping a man and torturing him, was among those featured on night one of the Democratic National Convention (DNC).
DNC’s opening night on Monday began with a video showing various people reciting the preamble to the Constitution. Hylton was featured in this video and billed as a “criminal justice reform advocate.” (RELATED: Women’s March Featured Speaker Who Kidnapped And Tortured A Man)
In 1985, Hylton was convicted of murder in the second degree and two counts of kidnapping in the first degree, spending 27 years in jail before being paroled in 2012. Hylton, along with six other people, played a role in kidnapping, torturing and murdering 62-year-old New York businessman Thomas Vigliarolo, according to the charges.
Vigliarolo was held for ransom, forcibly sodomized with a three-foot metal pole and murdered, according to a 1995 Psychology Today article. Vigliarolo was held for about 15 days before dying, Fox News reported. The group “starved, beat, sexually assaulted and raped him” during that time period, according to Fox News.
They also “squeezed the victim’s testicles with a pair of pliers, beat him, burned him,” New York City Detective William Spurling told Psychology Today.
He was stuffed in a trunk and left to rot after being murdered, the Psychology Today article noted.
Hylton delivered a ransom note to one of Vigliarolo’s friends demanding six figures, although the 62-year-old was apparently already dead, according to Psychology Today. A partial license plate image allowed officers to catch her, Fox News added.
The “criminal justice reform advocate” argued at trial that she was forced to play a role, accusing one of the other people involved of threatening to kill her 4-year-old daughter.
Hylton was sold from her family in Jamaica to a New York couple at age 7 and was molested as a child by an adoptive father, according to Fox News. She was 19 years old when she was arrested for the murder and kidnapping.
Hylton has tried to turn her life around since then, getting a college degree, becoming a Christian minister and advocating for prison reform. She claimed she was innocent of the 1985 charges in a statement to Fox News.
“As a 19-year-old survivor of human trafficking and sexual violence who was coerced into a horrible situation, I was powerless to stop what happened to him,” Hylton said.
“Yet, despite being innocent I was convicted and incarcerated for 27 years. What happened to Mr. Vigliarolo should not ever happen to anyone and I have spent my life since then fighting on the side of truth and justice for myself and countless others caught in the cycle of perpetual violence and victimization.”