Ohio appeals court upholds wrongful conviction of Cleveland man after spending 16 years in prison

5 On Your Side investigaton helped win freedom

CLEVELAND - An Ohio appeals court has upheld the wrongful conviction of a Cleveland man who spent 16 years in prison for a murder he did not commit.

Darrell Houston was convicted in 1992 in the shooting death of a convenience store clerk. But an exclusive 5 On Your Side investigation in 2003 raised serious questions about Houston's case.

After digging into court records, trial transcripts and testimony, our investigation found the only eyewitness said Houston was not the killer, no physical evidence tied Houston to the crime and blood on Houston's coat did not match the victim.

It would win Houston a new trial, where prosecutors eventually dropped all charges.

Later, a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas judge ruled that Houston was wrongfully convicted, but prosecutors quickly appealed that ruling to the Eighth Appellate District.

The appeals court Thursday issued a judgment Thursday upholding the lower court's ruling and found that Houston was not only "wrongfully convicted" but that "a preponderance of the evidence showed Houston was innocent."

Cuyahoga County prosecutors have 45 days to request the Ohio Supreme Court to review the case, but so far, a decision has not been made.

Thursday's ruling clears the way for Houston to sue for monetary compensation that amounts to $40,000 a year for each year he spent in prison--roughly $640,000.

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