AKRON, Ohio - Following a request by the Ohio Attorney General's Office, a Summit County judge dismissed an aggravated murder charge against an Akron man who has always maintained his innocence and spent more than 20 years in prison.
Dewey Jones, 51, was convicted of the 1993 high-profile murder of Neil Rankin, a 71-year-old Goodyear retiree, who was shot inside his home in Akron's Chapel Hill area.
Aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery charges were also dropped on Thursday afternoon.
Shortly after Judge Mary Margaret Rowland granted the request, Jones's family members applauded and he hugged several of the relatives.
"The truth is the truth and it always comes out... I sure would like to know who I did 20 years for," Jones told NewsChannel5.
A few minutes later, his quick wit got a lot of laughter in the hallway after he was asked what he plans to do now.
"I'm going to go take a bath. 20 years taking showers, I want to slide into a bathtub and soak."
The motion, filed by the AG's office, indicates that "the available state of the evidence in this matter would not support a conviction."
Some of the reasons include degradation of evidence and the death of witnesses.
"The state will continue to purse any potential investigatory leads into this murder, which could lead to the re-indictment of the matter at a future date," according to the motion.
Ohio's Innocence Project argued that Jones was wrongfully convicted and pointed to DNA evidence that was revealed in 2012.
A knife was used to cut rope and tie Rankin's hands, but DNA tests conducted on the rope, the knife and the victim's bloody shirt did not match Jones's DNA. The testing also showed a DNA presence of an unknown male.
Judge Mary Margaret Rowlands granted Jones a new trial and said the DNA of another suspect "calls into question the state's entire theory of the case."
Jones was transferred to the Summit County Jail, but in December, he was released.
The Summit County Prosecutor's Office asked the Ohio AG's Office to review the case and determine whether to proceed with a second trial.
Three of Jones's children were in the courtroom and were relieved by the decision to dismiss the charges.
"I got butterflies now. I can't believe that after all the years, it's finally over," Brittany Jones said.
Attorneys for Jones want the case to be dismissed with prejudice, meaning he could never be tried again for the murder.
"The anxiety and fear of having them come back after you in the future is something that we definitely want to eliminate," said David Owens from The Exoneration Project.
But attorneys for the AG's office argued the case should be dismissed without prejudice.
Judge Rowlands asked attorneys on both sides to file motions on that issue by February 10.
You can view our interview with Dewey Jones after the ruling, a 1993 story on the murder investigation and a 2012 story about the DNA results by clicking in the video box.