News 07.11.17

Ohio Death Row Exoneree Urges Governor to Halt Executions

By Innocence Staff

An Ohio death row exoneree penned an op-ed published Monday by the Columbus Dispatch urging Governor John Kasich to reconsider his decision to resume executions in the state.

Dale Johnston was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death in 1984 for the murders of his stepdaughter and her fiancé based on the testimony of a single witness who, under hypnosis, identified Johnston as the killer. Prosecutors hid the fact that four other witnesses identified an alternate perpetrator. Because of the unreliable eyewitness testimony and the undisclosed evidence pointing to his innocence, Johnston was exonerated and released in 1990. In 2008 the alternate perpetrator pled guilty to the crime.

Johnston notes that his experience is unfortunately not unique in Ohio. To date, nine death row inmates in the state have been exonerated. He cites a study by the National Academy of Sciences, which found that 1 in every 25 people currently on death row may be innocent.

Governor Kasich has announced 27 scheduled execution dates through 2021. Last year, executions were halted after a U.S. Supreme Court panel ruling barred the state from using a three-drug protocol announced in October.

“Are any of the 27 who are scheduled to be executed innocent?” Johnston writes. “I don’t know. You don’t know. The governor doesn’t know. That’s the problem.”

Johnston and four other Ohio death row exonerees started a petition urging Kasich to utilize his authority to prevent executions in the state from resuming.

Read the full op-ed here.

Watch Ohio exoneree Kwame Ajamu speak about his wrongful conviction and death sentence

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