- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 27, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio ranked fifth among states for its number of overturned convictions last year, according to a national report.

The Columbus Dispatch reports (https://bit.ly/1ENq18S ) Ohio had six exonerations in 2014, following Michigan, Illinois, New York and Texas, which led the country with 39 exonerations.

A record 125 exonerations were reported nationwide last year, according to the National Registry of Exonerations report compiled by the University of Michigan Law School. The previous high was 91 exonerations in 2013. The increase was due in part to cases in Texas in which individuals had their drug convictions dismissed after lab tests determined they never had illegal substances, the report showed.

The list of Ohio exonerations included Kwame Ajamu, Wiley Bridgeman and Ricky Jackson, three men convicted and sentenced to death in the 1975 slaying of a Cleveland businessman. Charges against them were dropped last year after the key witness in the case- a then-13-year-old boy- recanted in 2013.

Other Ohio men exonerated in 2014 included Joel Covender, convicted of child sex abuse in Lorain; Dewey Jones, convicted of murder in Akron; and Anthony Lemons, convicted of murder in Cleveland.

The six exonerated men served a combined 173 years in prison.

More than half of 2014 exonerations were initiated or supported by law enforcement or prosecutors, said Samuel Gross, a University of Michigan law professor who edits the registry.

“The big story for the year is that more prosecutors are working hard to identify and investigate claims of innocence. And many more innocent defendants were exonerated after pleading guilty to crimes they did not commit,” Gross said in a statement.


Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, https://www.dispatch.com

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