Ohio Innocence Project
client Dewey Jones, who has spent more than 18 years in prison, may soon be released after DNA testing cleared him in an Akron murder over a year ago.
Shortly after the results pointed toward Jones’ innocence in 2012, a Summit County common pleas judge overturned his conviction and granted him a new trial, but he was never released. The Ohio attorney general’s office appealed that decision last year, but yesterday it was upheld by an appeals court judge, clearing the path for Jones’ release.
Jones’ attorney Carrie Wood argues that the case against Jones is flawed and relies on questionable witness testimony. Mike Wagner of the
“Mr. Jones has spent more than 18 years in prison for a murder he did not commit,” Wood said in a written statement. “DNA test results are just one piece of evidence that demonstrates Dewey Jones’ innocence. Whether DNA test results produce an exoneration or a new trial, today’s decision affirms the importance of DNA testing’s role in demonstrating innocence.”
Jones was convicted in 1995 of the robbery and murder of 71-year-old Neal Rankin and sentenced to life in prison. He has always maintained his innocence.
His case was highlighted in the 2008 Dispatch series Test of Convictions, which revealed cracks in the way the state preserved evidence and conducted DNA tests. The Dispatch reviewed more than 300 cases with the Ohio Innocence Project and highlighted 30 prisoners as prime candidates for testing, including Jones.
According to a spokesperson for the Ohio attorney general’s office, prosecutors are reviewing the appeals court’s decision and have yet to decide whether they will appeal the case to the Ohio Supreme Court. In the meantime, Jones remains behind bars at the Richland Correctional Institution.
Read a Q and A
with Dispatch reporters Mike Wagner and Geoff Dutton in Innocence Project in Print.