Three wrongly imprisoned death row inmates give first interview since release

They were young men – aged 17, 18 and 20 – when they were sentenced to death in 1975 for a crime they didn’t commit.

Now three childhood friends who were wrongly imprisoned for nearly 40 years have sat down together for their first proper interview since being exonerated in November, discussing how they are coping living in the ‘new world’, the lives they missed out on living, and the first thing they did after being freed.

Ricky Jackson, now 58 – who holds the U.S. record for serving the longest time for a wrongful conviction, after 39 years, three months and nine days in prison – and Wiley Bridgeman, 60, walked free last year after the sole witness in their case confessed his testimony had been ‘all lies’.

Ronnie Bridgeman, 57, Wiley’s brother, was released on parole in 2003, after all three sentences were commuted to life after a Supreme Court ruling in 1978.

‘We all have scars that we are never going to be able to recover from,’ Jackson told Fusion.

‘A lot of people want us to feel bitter, resentful and spiteful, (but) i don’t.

‘That’s something that happened. Everyone is going through something in their life. This was our something.’

The men were convicted of the May 19, 1975, murder of Cleveland businessman Harry Franks, who was attacked, robbed and shot to death.

The trio had walked passed the crime scene and inquired what had happened, and not long after became the prime suspects.

They were locked up, and believed everything would be ‘straightened out’, but were soon facing trial for Franks’ murder.

The prosecutions case was based on the testimony of a 12-year-old, Eddie Vernon, who said he saw the murder.

There was no physical evidence linking the three to Franks.

Vernon, now 52, eventually recanted his testimony, saying that police officers coerced him into testifying and gave him details about the case.

Changing his account in 2013, he said: ‘All the information was fed to me – I don’t have any knowledge about what happened at the scene of the crime’, Cleveland.com reported.

All three men were officially exonerated on November 21, 2014.

The ruling released Ricky Jackson and Wiley Bridgeman.

And it allowed them to be reunited – finally – with Ronnie Bridgeman, who has changed his name to Kwame Ajamu.

Source: The DailyMail

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