According to a story published on Wednesday by
, Ohio Innocence Project clients Eugene Johnson, Laurese Glover and Derrick Wheatt were released from prison late last month after serving nearly 20 years for a murder which new evidence shows they did not commit.
Johnson, Glover and Wheatt were convicted in 1996 of the shooting death of 19-year-old Clifton Hudson Jr. in East Cleveland. The case hinged on the testimony of Tamika Harris, who was 14 years old at the time of the trial. Harris testified that she saw a man jump out of a truck, shoot the victim, and jump back into the truck. She admitted she could not see his face, but during the trial she positively identified Johnson as the shooter. Wheatt and Johnson were sentenced to 18 years to life in prison; Glover was sentenced to 15 years to life.
In 2004, Harris came forward to recant her testimony. Two years later, the Ohio Innocence Project took on the case. In 2013 they obtained police reports containing information which was not presented at the original trial, including the statements of two witnesses who confirmed that the shooter came from a nearby post office lot, not the defendants’ truck. Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Nancy Margaret Russo threw out their convictions and ordered a new trial, saying that former Prosecutor Carmen Marino withheld this evidence during trial. One witness will testify during the retrial.
Mark Godsey, the Daniel P. and Judith L. Carmichael Professor of Law and director of the Lois and Richard Rosenthal Institute for Justice/Ohio Innocence Project said on the University of Cincinnati’s web site: “We’re excited about today’s event, but even more excited for our clients. . . . They have been fighting to prove their innocence for nearly 20 years. They had tried for exoneration twice before, and had come close in the past. OIP [Ohio Innocence Project] has worked on the case since 2006, and are happy to be with them as they finally taste their long-sought freedom.”
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