Man Who Spent 45 Years Behind Bars Wrongfully Imprisoned, Judge Declares
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Featured Image Credit: News5Cleveland
A judge has declared that a man from Cleveland, who has spent more than 45 years behind bars, was wrongfully imprisoned.
In October 2021, a second jury trial began over Isaiah Andrews' 1975 conviction for the murder of his wife.
Following the trial, the 83-year-old was found not guilty and acquitted by a jury, and the conviction was overturned by a judge.
On Thursday, March 10, Andrews was declared wrongfully imprisoned after spending 46 years in jail.
He is now able to seek compensation from the state.
Two months after Isaiah married Regina in 1974, his wife went missing, Cleveland.com reports.
The couple lived in a hotel called the Colonial Inn, and when Regina's body was discovered in Forest Hill Park, she was wrapped in bedding from the hotel, as well as sheets from two other accommodations.
A man named Willie Watts was the first suspect in the case. His mother was revealed as living close to the park and bedding was missing from his hotel room.
However, Watts was released without charge after he offered police an alibi.
Isaiah Andrews shows up to cuyahoga county court to be formally declared an innocent person after spending 45 years in prison pic.twitter.com/4DoBC7ZHF0— Ed Gallek (@edgallekfox8) March 10, 2022
Andrews then became the target of the investigation, despite there being no physical evidence. Witnesses reportedly stated he had been acting strangely around the time of his wife's disappearance.
It was later discovered that Watts' alibi likely did not cover the time of Regina's death, but police didn't revisit him as a suspect and he died in 2011.
In 2018, DNA testing of evidence was demanded by Andrews' attorneys, but an order from an appeals court revealed that the evidence had been destroyed. A report by Cleveland Police had also been missing from the first trial.
It is alleged that Michael O'Malley, a Cuyahoga County prosecutor, also tried his best to stop Andrews getting a retrial.
Isaiah Andrews officially declared wrongfully imprisoned in State of Ohio for wife’s murder. pic.twitter.com/2QFMUOgaNF— Sarah Buduson (@SarahBuduson) March 10, 2022
A joint motion was subsequently put forward by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost's office and Andrews' attorneys to declare Andrews wrongfully imprisoned, which was granted on Thursday by Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Ashley Kilblane.
Kilblane stated: 'We certainly hope that you can move forward and when you pursue this wrongfully imprisoned claim that although nothing can take back the years that were taken from you, that justice in some small part will be served to you for the remainder of your time here.'
In response to the ruling, one of Andrew's representatives, Sarah Gelsomino, reflected how while Andrews had always known he was innocent, that 'in October, the jury saw the truth'.
Addressing Judge Kilblane, she stated: 'To hear it from the state of Ohio and you, your honour, is frankly monumental.'
The representative also took the time to thank the office for 'confronting some difficult truths'.
Tina Bradford, assistant Ohio attorney general, responded: 'This is a difficult case to even imagine. Giving the relief that is due to the plaintiff is the least we can do at this point.'
The official declaration this week means that Isaiah Andrews, 84, can seek damages from the State of Ohio for spending more than half his life in prison after being wrongly convicted of killing his wife.— Cita Wertz (@CitaWertz) March 12, 2022
Andrews has urged others who are wrongfully imprisoned to fight against their convictions, 'because that's the only way you're gonna win'.
Last month, accusing the police of having violated his civil rights by withholding evidence that led to his wrongful conviction, Andrews and his attorneys decided to file a federal civil rights lawsuit against the City of Cleveland in US District Court.
The judge's declaration of a wrongful imprisonment also allows Andrews to pursue his lawsuit seeking compensation from the state, The New York Times reports.
It is anticipated that the 83-year-old could be entitled to damages of more than $2.5 million; $56,752.36 for each year he was wrongfully imprisoned.
However, Gelsomino noted that the compensation won't make up for what Andrews lost as a result of his conviction.
She reflected: 'He lost everybody when he was in prison. So, he didn’t have a family waiting to welcome him back.'
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