Witness Recants, Freeing Ohio Man after 39 Years
by Associated Press
November 21, 2014
This created a web of lies that helped
and the other men. He said he gave authorities the names of the three
men because he thought he was doing the right thing.
who spent nearly four decades in prison after being
convicted of murder is expected to be freed Friday after a witness
confessed he lied as a boy when he told jurors he saw the deadly attack.
Ricky Jackson had been seeking a new trial and sobbed loudly with his
face in his hands as prosecutors dismissed his case Tuesday, The Plain
"I can't believe this is over," Jackson, 57, said, thanking his
supporters and his attorneys from the Ohio Innocence Project.
Jackson has been imprisoned for 39 years, serving a life sentence for
aggravated murder and other charges, according to state prison records.
He is expected to be released as soon as the paperwork is finished.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said the case fell apart
after witness Eddie Vernon recanted. Vernon said he had been fed
details of the crime by police and kept quiet about his lies because
investigators had threatened to imprison his parents.
Vernon was 12 when he accused Jackson and two brothers in the May 1975
killing of a money-order collector who authorities said was beaten,
shot and attacked with acid as he walked near a grocery store. No
evidence connected the defendants to the crime, but all three were
convicted by juries.
This week, Vernon told a judge he was trying to please others when he
provided a false story based on information from a friend and police
who fed him details.
Ricky Jackson, 57, of
Cleveland, center,with lawyers Mark Godsey, left, and Brian Howe, looks
skyward after being released from his life sentence for a 1975 murder,
by Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Richard McMonagle, Friday,
November 20, 2014 in Cleveland. The dismissal came after the key
witness against Jackson and brothers Wiley and Ronnie Bridgeman
recanted last year and said Cleveland police detectives coerced him
into testifying that the three killed businessman Harry Franks the
afternoon of May 19, 1975. AP Photo/Phil Long
"All the information was fed to me," said Vernon, who came forward to
change his story after speaking with a pastor. "I don't have any
knowledge about what happened at the scene of the crime."
He said he had been nearby on a bus when he heard two pops, but
couldn't see what occurred. Others who were on the bus also testified
that he wasn't in position to see the slaying.
Prosecutors had been skeptical of Vernon but acknowledged after the
hearing that the case didn't hold up.
"You made the right choice," Judge Richard McMonagle told McGinty.
Attorneys for the two convicted brothers, Wiley and Ronnie Bridgeman,
also sought a new trial based on Vernon's information and are expected
to ask prosecutors to drop that case, too, the newspaper reported.
Ronnie Bridgeman spent more than 25 years in prison, and his brother
A spokesman for the prosecutor's office said it doesn't anticipate