Elwood Jones was sentenced to death after being convicted for the 1994 murder of Rhoda Nathan, a guest at the hotel where he worked as a custodian. He has always maintained his innocence and absolutely denied involvement in Ms. Nathan’s death.
Ms. Nathan was found unconscious on the floor of the hotel suite she occupied at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Blue Ash, Ohio, on September 3, 1994. She had been badly beaten and two of her teeth had been knocked out. Blood was found in several places in the room. Ms. Nathan was also without a necklace that family and friends said she wore constantly. No one witnessed the attack.
Elwood Jones had been working in the hotel on that day, and he voluntarily submitted to police questioning. Several other employees reported seeing Elwood working that day and remembered him being clean and acting normally. A cut on Elwood’s hand that he received while taking out trash on the morning of Ms. Nathan’s death later became infected, and he sought treatment and workers compensation for his injury. After police learned about Elwood’s cut, they focused on him as a suspect. Police searched Elwood’s car, and his and a friend’s residences, and questioned him at the station. But none of the blood, fingerprint, or trace evidence collected from the scene of the crime, nor from Elwood’s car, clothing, or other possessions, matched him with the crime scene or the victim. To this day, zero forensic evidence ties Elwood to Ms. Nathan’s homicide.
Source : December 2013 memorandum in opposition to the State’s motion to set execution date.
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In a video by Off-Center Media, law enforcement officials detail how an Ohio man was convicted and sentenced to death for a double-murder he did not commit.
Tyrone Noling was convicted of the murder of Cora and Bearnhardt Hartig and sentenced to death in 1996. No physical evidence linked Noling to the crime, only the testimony of his three codefendents who implicated him in exchange for their own immunity. The three men have since recanted their testimonies, saying police threatened them with the death penalty.
In the video, former Portage County Sheriff Kenneth Howe and veteran homicide detective Jim Trainum describe how police and prosecutors fed the men information about the crime scene.
According to Ohio Innocence Project director Mark Godsey, an inmate on death row confessed to committing the crime in a letter sent to his brother before his execution.
“When you step back and you look at the entire investigation, you see tunnel vision here on the part of the police and prosecutors,” Godsey says in the video. “They focused in on their suspects right away and then they tried to make all the pieces fit together to fit their theory of the case while ignoring other red flags including alternate suspects that weren’t ultimately looked into in great depth.”
The video is narrated by Raymond Towler, who spent nearly three decades in prison for a crime he did not commit before his exoneration in 2010.
Noling is represented by the Ohio Public Defender and the Ohio Innocence Project.
Source: Innocence Project ( see link for video )
Tyra Patterson was sentenced in December 1995 to spend the rest of her life in prison, for having participated in a robbery of a group of white girls in a car the previous year. At the end of the robbery, Michelle Lai was shot in the head and killed.
In an affidavit from 2013, LaShawna Keeney, the confessed shooter, expressed remorse for the “horrible crime I committed”. She went on to say that Patterson had not been involved in the robbery but had tried to stop it: “She walked up to me and told me to leave the victims alone.”
Source: A tale of two Tyras Guardian, 14 Jan 2016
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Samuel Holmes “Sam” Sheppard (December 29, 1923 – April 6, 1970) was an American osteopathic physician and, toward the end of his life, a professional wrestler. He was convicted of the brutal murder of his pregnant wife, Marilyn Reese Sheppard on July 4, 1954, at their Bay Village, Ohio, home. He spent almost a decade in prison, mostly at the Ohio Penitentiary, before a retrial was ordered, where he was acquitted in 1966.
On June 6, 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court, by an 8-to-1 vote, struck down the murder conviction. The decision noted, among other factors, that a “carnival atmosphere” had permeated the trial, and that the trial judge Edward J. Blythin, was clearly biased against Sheppard because Judge Blythin had refused to sequester the jury, did not order the jury to ignore and disregard media reports of the case, and when speaking to newspaper columnist Dorothy Kilgallen shortly before the trial started said, “Well, he’s guilty as hell. There’s no question about it.”
There is new evidence published October 30, 2015, showing the murder was committed by Edward Wayne Edwards :
This is the last page of a letter Edward Edwards sent to Dr. Sam Sheppard’s father Richard, July 13th 1954, just after he had killed pregnant Marilyn Sheppard in her bed while she slept, and set-up her husband Dr. Sam Sheppard. I didn’t know it existed until last week. Just like in the 2009 Christopher Coleman case in Illinois, Edwards left a clue on the P.S. at the end of the letter as to who the real killer was. He left the number 4 in mirror image as a clue to 4 Ds to his name, and 2 Es.
David Thorne is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for allegedly hiring an acquaintance to kill the mother of his son, however, he never hired anyone nor did the acquaintance do the crime.
Sometime between the evening hours on March 31, 1999 and 12:00 p.m. on April 1, 1999, Yvonne Layne, a mother of 5, was murdered in her home with one solid and steady slit to her throat.
David Thorne was convicted of complicity to aggravated murder/murder for hire on January 25, 2000 by a 12 person jury.
The police investigating the crime had tunnel vision throughout their investigation, narrowing in on David from the beginning.
The investigators were unable to get David to confess, so instead they went after his acquaintance, Joseph Wilkes, who was barely 18 years of age and a high school dropout. After a lengthy interrogation, during which they told Joseph that David was “next door ratting him out”, he confessed, utilizing the story that the police had fed to him to what the police were telling him happened. Joe took a plea deal and David went to trial.
Despite the lack of physical evidence of either Joe or David being at the scene and a poor police investigation, with very weak circumstantial evidence, an innocent man was convicted.
[ From the Website ]
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No one in Wayne County’s legal system can even pretend at this point that Davontae Sanford committed the four murders he supposedly confessed to when he was 14-years-old.
The real murderer has admitted he was hired to carry out the drug hit, and Sanford, now 22, played no role.
Why Sanford, then an illiterate and partially blind teen, confessed is anyone’s guess. That he was so eagerly believed by cops and prosecutors and has been kept behind bars for so long despite the compelling evidence of his innocence speaks to a prosecutorial culture that leaves no room for admitting a mistake was made.
So at great expense to taxpayers, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy continues to fight to keep Sanford locked up.
Meanwhile, confessed hitman Vincent Smothers says he committed the 2007 murders in a drug house on Runyon Street in Detroit, and even told cops where to find the .45 caliber pistol used in the slayings. Smothers is serving time for other homicides.
Attorneys for the University of Michigan’s Innocence clinic and a similar project at Northwestern University were in court this week with a mountain of evidence that Sanford was wrongfully convicted.
Source: Detroit News April 17, 2015
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Detroit man who confessed to quadruple homicide at age 14 to be freed June 8, 2016
20 years ago Jermane Scott was given a LIFE sentence for Agg Murder/Credit Card Misuse.
Jermane is from Ohio USA (trial court OHIO).
Jermane has maintained his innocence to the Agg Murder charge from the very beginning.
Jermane Scott did NOT commit murder.
- No DNA evidence.
- No Motive.
- NO Murder Weapon and Inconsistent/Contradictory Witness Statements throughout.
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Jeffrey Braun is serving life without parole for the October 2005 murder of John Chappell.
He was implicated in this murder, of which he had no knowledge, by two friends John Shears and Roy Fitzer after a dispute with a drug dealer ended with a non-fatal shooting.
Jeffrey was addicted to drugs, and this led to him committing numerous robberies of drug dealers, however he did not commit murder or shoot anyone.
There was no DNA evidence, or eye witness testimony connecting Jeffrey to the murder, only the word of already convicted felons.
Jeffrey had an alibi for the night of the murder, but the state claimed that that anyone who testified on his behalf lied, even though there was no reason for them to lie.
A year and a half after being convicted, Jeffrey received a letter from Fitzer in which he admitted that not only had he lied and tried to make a deal, but he also had recanted his lies at the time of Jeffrey’s trial and at no time did the prosecution provide the defence with the information that Fitzer refused to testify. Instead the prosecution postponed trial on the day Fitzer was supposed to testify, and had the court sign an order for his immediate return to prison rendering him unavailable to contact anyone.
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Ryan Widmer was wrongly convicted of murder after three trials. He found his wife unresponsive in their bathtub, on August 11, 2008. Sarah had not been feeling well the entire day and had a bad headache. She was also known by family and friends to easily fall asleep and according to her brother had fallen asleep in the tub numerous times. An expert at the trial testified that in the U.S. every year about 300,000 people under the age of 35 die and that these people’s autopsies do not show any sign of what they died from.
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Ryan Widmer’s attorneys argue for his release December 3, 2015
This time, Gary Widmer is hoping for a different outcome for his son.
“It’s a big day for Ryan and I’m glad he has this opportunity, and I think a win for Ryan would be a win for the public because he’s an innocent guy and he’s in jail and it’s not right,” said supporter Sara Kraner. “I believe 100 percent in his innocence and I hope justice is served today.”
After three trials, Widmer was convicted in 2011 of killing his wife Sarah by drowning her in the bathtub. He has maintained his innocence.
On Wednesday, Michele Berry argued on his behalf. Berry said lead Hamilton Township Detective Jeff Braley was a “corrupt cop” and evidence presented was based on “junk science.”
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On December 22, 2008, between 6 and 6:38 pm, a man, his wife, and his 20-year-old daughter were shot in an execution style murder. Their 6-year-old grandson was present.
The child ran to a neighbor who called his mother and her uncle. He then called 911. On the 911 call the child said a girl with black hair came in and shot his papaw, mamaw and sissy, he did not know her name. The child could NOT have seen what he testified to after being coached by the State – his original statements are in conflict with his testimony. Kara’s hair was blonde not black.
There was no physical evidence linking Kara to the crime, and other conflicts in the State’s theory.
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Witnesses that could have exonerated Christina were not interviewed, even after these witnesses came to the police department and asked to volunteer their information.
One witness at the scene testified during the trial that Christina was not even present when the crime occured.
There were weapons found at the scene, none of which could be associated with Christina.
There were fingerprints recovered that would point to other suspects.
Police instead arrested and convicted a girl that was under the influence of drugs and had no comprehension of anything that was going on, let alone the capabilities to formulate a plan and carry out a crime.
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Notes: Ohio Innocence Project involved.