Roger Dean Gillispie could be freed from prison

Dec 15, 2011
Via: Newstalk Radio
By Charles Van Sant

DAYTON, Ohio — Roger Dean Gillispie, convicted of rape, could be set free. U.S. Magistrate Michael Merz ordered that Gillispie be retried or freed by July based on evidence which had been rejected in the past.

Gillispie has been fighting his convictions for 20 years. He argued Tuesday for a new trial before three appeals judges.

Gillispie was tried and convicted of raping three women in August, 1988. The conviction was appealed in 1993. He had been serving a 16-to-50-year sentence at the London Correctional Institution. He has always maintained he was not guilty.

Much of the new evidence involves an “alternative suspect.” The defense claims the other suspect matches the descriptions of the rapist. That suspect, according to the defense, made statements to people he knew that were similar to statements made by the rapist.
UC law students celebrate overturned conviction
Dec. 16, 2011, Written by Janice Morse|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Law students at the University of Cincinnati were celebrating Thursday after nine years of work paid off: A federal court overturned the conviction of a man who spent 20 years in prison for rapes the students are convinced he didn’t commit, says Mark Godsey, director of UC’s Ohio Innocence Project.

“Just about everyone who has looked at the case thinks there’s no chance he committed these crimes…even the original detectives on the case think he’s innocent,” Godsey said about the case of Roger Dean Gillispie, who was convicted of the 1988 rapes of three women near the Dayton Mall.

Godsey notes that former Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro worked diligently on the case, too, and Petro devotes considerable space to the Gillispie case in his acclaimed book, “False Justice: Eight Myths that Convict the Innocent.”

But he says Montgomery County prosecutors have said they will fight Gillispie’s release, and they intend to appeal a decision issued Thursday, ordering Gillispie to be freed.

A federal judge concluded that Gillispie, who was convicted of rape, kidnapping and aggravated robbery in 1991, did not get a fair trial — and he must be retried by July 1 or freed from prison.

U.S. District Magistrate Judge Michael Merz wrote in his ruling Thursday that the prosecution improperly withheld information from jurors. Merz said jurors never heard testimony that the original investigating officers eliminated Gillispie as a suspect.

Three victims testified that Gillispie was the person who committed the crimes. But Merz wrote that there was no physical evidence connecting Gillispie to the crimes.

Messages left at the Montgomery County prosecutor’s office in Dayton were not immediately returned.

Gillispie was sentenced to 22 to 56 years in prison.

The story of how Gillispie was convicted despite no DNA evidence is complex, Godsey said. But, in short, he blames “a misleading photo lineup with a cop who was telling the girls, ‘This is the guy who did it.’”

“This corrupt cop even lied to the victims, telling the girls that the suspect would look different than they remembered, because he had dyed his hair — which was not true,” Godsey said.

Gillispie had no prior criminal record and worked as a firefighter at a General Motors plant in Moraine, Ohio, outside Dayton. “He was a union agitator, and a supervisor who he didn’t get along with turned him in” as a possible suspect in the rapes, Godsey said.

“We found the original detectives in the case who were honest and revealed things that were withheld from the defense, including that the person who turned Gillispie in as a suspect had a vendetta against him…and the detectives had information that proved he couldn’t have done it,” Godsey said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.