Cleveland man [with innocence claim] released from prison after a decade behind bars

From: Cleveland,com (Plain Dealer)
Published: Monday, September 12, 2011
By By Leila Atassi

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A Cleveland man, who spent more than a decade in prison for a murder he says he did not commit, stepped out of Cuyahoga County jail a free man Monday thanks to a federal court’s ruling that the trial court trampled his rights when it allowed a jailhouse informant to testify against him.

David Ayers, 54, though still handcuffed and wearing a jailhouse orange jumpsuit, was all smiles as Common Pleas Judge Nancy Margaret Russo wished him well and told him he soon would be released.

“I know prison is very hard,” she said. “But you look well, and you’ve had very good lawyers working on your behalf … Welcome back into the community Mr. Ayers.”

Prosecutors, earlier at the hearing in Russo’s courtroom, dismissed charges against Ayers related to the 1999 slaying of 76-year-old Dorothy Brown, who lived at an apartment complex where Ayers also lived and served as a security guard.

Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Kevin Filiatraut said the case would be much more difficult to prove without the testimony of the informant, who told Cleveland detectives that Ayers confessed to the murder when the two men shared a jail pod.

But Ayers’ legal team, which includes attorneys from the Cuyahoga County Public Defender’s Office and the Ohio Innocence Project, said after the hearing that the true grounds for dismissal were the results of new DNA tests that excluded Ayers as a suspect.

(video: David Ayres freed from prison)

David Ayres was serving time in prison for murder. New DNA testing did not trace back to him, allowing him to be released.
Watch video

“We’re very happy about the fact that he’s free,” said John Martin, appellate supervisor of the County Public Defender’s Office, who worked on the case. “But our joy is tempered by the fact that an innocent man has spent 10 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, while the true killer is still out there.”

Read the rest here.