Three innocent men do 18 years prison for murder
Reported by Ryan Brennan
Eighteen years ago, three men were charged with the murder of Clifton Hudson, Jr. After nearly a decade of legal advocacy from the Ohio Innocence Project (OIP), these three men are finally set to be released after the court found out that they were wrongly convicted.
Judge Nancy Margaret Russo of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas had the convictions of Eugene Johnson, Derrick Wheatt, and Laurese Glover (pictured from left) thrown out. The three men were granted a new trial, as well as a set bond. After the bond was met, the three men were immediately released.
Their release was possible thanks to the recanting of a key eyewitness’ testimony. It was also caused due to the revelation that some information from police reports wasn’t disclosed to the trial team years earlier. This information would’ve put doubt on the defendants’ guilt quite a while back.
The Ohio Innocence Project has had a great deal of success with their legal advocacy. With this win, they have marked their second triple-exoneration. The organization is run out of the University of Cincinnati’s Rosenthal Institute for Justice in the College of Law. After the release of the three men, the OIP has now freed 23 people who were wrongly convicted. These 23 people served more than 500 years in prison combined for crimes that they did not commit.
According to The Wrongful Convictions Blog, Mark Godsey expressed his pride in his organization’s accomplishments:
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 has worked on the case since 2006, and are happy to be with them as they finally taste their long-sought freedom.
Dr Boyce Watkins, who advocates for wrongly incarcerated black men says that while these achievements are noteworthy, they are really just the tip of the iceberg.
“For every case like this that is uncovered, there are thousands more that will never see the light of day,” said Dr Boyce Watkins, who advocates for wrongly incarcerated black men. “What we are seeing are symptoms of a broken system that has destroyed millions of families. Black men are the most incarcerated group of human beings on the entire planet, and many of them are either oversentenced or innocent altogether.”
Dr Watkins worked with hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons to get 175 celebrities to sign an open letter to President Obama asking the Obama Administration to address the mass incarceration epidemic in America. Celebrities such as Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Chris Rock, LL Cool J, Brad Pitt, and many others signed the letter, which asked the president to issue enough resources for thousands of cases to be re-examined.
“We don’t need a couple of pardons here and there, we need a massive overhaul of the system,” says Watkins. “For example, a large percentage of innocent citizens are forced to take a plea bargain and a felony record for crimes they never committed because they are being threatened with longer sentences for demanding a fair trial. That’s tantamount to torture. On top of that, many of these individuals are raped, abused and assaulted once they are behind bars. Our criminal justice system is both a holocaust on the black community and the greatest national embarrassment since slavery.”
Both Wheatt and Glover were represented by the Ohio Innocence Project, while Johnson was represented by attorneys Brett Murner and Jim Valentine. In addition, the co-counsel of this case consisted of Senior Instructor of Law Carmen Naso and the law students at the Milton A. Kramer Law Clinic, and Case Western Reserve School of Law in Cleveland, Ohio, according to the blog. As a result of their success, OIP and the Kramer Law Clinic plan on working together on projects in the future.
UC Foundation President Rodney M. Grabowski said, “UC donors who contributed to the UC OIP’s tremendous success provided case workers with the funds needed to facilitate their pursuit of justice.”
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