Brothers who spent combined 66 years on Death Row get $1.6million payout for wrongful conviction

Two brothers exonerated after being sentenced to death for a 1975 slaying have been awarded more than $1.6 million in compensation from the state of Ohio for decades of wrongful imprisonment.

The Ohio Court of Claims on Friday granted the money to Wiley Bridgeman, 60, and Kwame Ajamu, 57, and the brothers’ attorneys said compensation for lost wages has yet to be determined and awarded.

Bridgeman, Ajamu, and Ricky Jackson, now 59, were sent to death row after aggravated murder convictions in the slaying of Cleveland money order salesman Harry Franks.

Last year, the three men were exonerated after the case against them fell apart when the prosecution’s key witness Edward Vernon — a 12-year-old boy at the time of the killing— recanted his testimony as an adult and said he never witnessed the crime.

Jackson, 58, was awarded more than $1million in compensation in March.

Terry Gilbert and David Mills, attorneys for Bridgeman and Ajamu, said Friday the amount in lost wages will be determined through negotiations.

Mills said Ohio law allows wrongfully imprisoned individuals to be paid about $51,000 for each year of incarceration.

The $1.6 million includes calculated damages amounting to about $969,000 for Bridgeman and $647,000 for Ajamu, according to the court.

Previous inmates exonerated after periods in prison have received up to $1million for each year spent incarcerated.

An Illinois man who spent nearly 20 years in jail after being wrongly imprisoned for rape and murder received a $20million settlement in March, setting a new national record.

Gilbert said no amount of money could really compensate the two men for the time that was taken from them.

Ajamu was only 17-years-old when he was given the death penalty.

Ajamu, Bridgeman and Jackson had walked past the scene where Franks was shot and asked what happened, soon becoming prime suspects in the murder.

No physical evidence linked them to the crime, which included an acid attack.

In 2013 Vernon said that police had fed him details about the case, Cleveland.com reported.

Late last year the inmates became emotional after being told that they had been exonerated and the court would not make any objections to their innocence.

All three’s death sentences, which were given when Bridgeman was 20 and Jackson was 18, had been commuted to life in prison after the Supreme Court outlawed capital punishment in 1978.

‘They deserve a lot more, but the state has limits on what they pay,’ Gilbert said. ‘But obviously they are grateful to have some resources to start their lives again.’

Source: The DailyMail

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

scroll to top