An 81-year-old Ohio man is suing the state for wrongful imprisonment after serving almost six years on death row for a double-homicide he did not commit.
Dale Johnston was convicted in 1984 for the murder of his step-daughter and her fiancé. Their dismembered bodies were found in a cornfield in 1982. According to the Associated Press, the prosecution claimed Johnston was having an affair with his step-daughter and killed the young couple in a jealous rage. The key witness testified under hypnosis.
Johnston’s conviction was overturned on appeal and a judge refused to allow a retrial using the hypnotized witness. The case was dismissed and Johnston was released in 1990.
When two men confessed to the crime in 2008, a Franklin County judge declared Johnston innocent but an appeals court later reversed the ruling. The state now refuses to allow Johnston another opportunity to prove his innocence and to be compensated under the Ohio wrongful conviction compensation statute.
Johnston’s attorney argued before the Ohio Supreme Court Wednesday that he is entitled to another chance at vindication under a 2003 change to the state’s wrongful-imprisonment law.
Johnston told the
that he isn’t as concerned about the compensation money as he is with clearing his name.
“It’s not about the lawsuit. I want to be legally cleared of this crime,” he told the
. “It doesn’t make any sense. . . . It’s given the legal system a dirty name.”
In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Johnston recalled the horror of waiting for years to be executed for someone else’s crime.
“Death row’s the most horrible place anybody could be,” he told the Associated Press. “Especially when you know they’re wanting to kill you for something you didn’t do.”
“If I am able to get everything that the state says I’m allowed to have, that’s still an insult when you figure what I lost,” he told the Associated Press.
Read the Associated Press story