Cleveland man's conviction overturned after nearly 40 years in prison

Nov 19, 2014

The Ohio Innocence Project says a Cleveland man has been exonerated after 39 years in prison for a murder he did not commit.

Following a 2-day hearing in a Cuyahoga County courtroom, the star witness in the case against Ricky Jackson admitted to lying during the original trial.  Jackson was convicted in 1975 along with two other men based on the eyewitness testimony of then 12-year-old Eddie Vernon.  On Tuesday, Vernon recanted his story, saying he testified to seeing the murder in order to please others. 

The director of the Ohio Innocence Project, Mark Godsey, said in a press release “We at the OIP have had our ups and downs in various cases over the years, but never anything as dramatic as (Tuesday).

“Our client Ricky Jackson gave unbelievably emotional and gripping testimony about spending nearly 40 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, starting from his answer to the first question asked of him – about his sentence – which he slowly and powerfully answered, ‘I… was sentenced to death by electrocution for a crime I didn’t commit.’”

Jackson will be released from prison Friday.  Cuyahoga County prosecutors say they soon plan to drop the charges against the other two defendants in the case, Wiley and Ronnie Bridgeman.