CLEVELAND - A Cleveland man who won a wrongful incarceration lawsuit was back in an Ohio Appeals court Wednesday as prosecutors fight his efforts for compensation.
Darrell Houston spent 16 years in prison for the murder of a convenience store clerk before a series of 5 On Your Side investigative reports helped win a new trial.
Prosecutors subsequently dropped all charges against Houston when the only eyewitness testified that Houston was not the killer.
Houston later filed a civil lawsuit for wrongful incarceration and won.
Even so, Cuyahoga County prosecutors appealed that ruling to the 8th Appellate District of the Ohio Court of Appeals in Cleveland arguing the judge made "legal errors" in the wrongful conviction ruling.
Prosecutors are also asking the appeals court to refrain from ruling until similar cases already before the Ohio Supreme Court are ruled on.
Houston's attorneys told the three-judge panel that prosecutors are "simply retrying the case of an innocent man."
"When the trial court vacated and granted a new trial, it vacated everything," said attorney Mark Porter.
He went on to describe how prosecutors, at one point, offered Houston a plea deal that Houston rejected.
"He was offered a chance to get out, time served, out the door. And he refused. He went through a fourth trial and if this court seeks evidence of actual innocence--that's it," said Porter.
Judge Kathleen Ann Keough, Judge Mary Eileen Kilbane and Judge Melody J. Steward listened intently as attorneys presented their motions and could rule on the case in upcoming weeks.