CRIME

Ohio Men Cleared Of Murder After Decades In Prison To Get $1.6 Million

Wiley Bridgeman, 60, of Cleveland, left, is all smiles as his brother Ronnie, who is now known as Kwame Ajamu chokes up as th
Wiley Bridgeman, 60, of Cleveland, left, is all smiles as his brother Ronnie, who is now known as Kwame Ajamu chokes up as they walk from the Cuyahoga County Justice Center after Bridgeman's release from a life sentence for a 1975 murder, Friday, Nov. 21, 2014 in Cleveland. The dismissal came after the key witness against Bridgeman, his brother and childhood friend Ricky Jackson recanted last year and said Cleveland police detectives coerced him into testifying that the three killed businessman Harry Franks the afternoon of May 19, 1975. (AP Photo/Phil Long)

April 10 (Reuters) - Two Ohio men who were cleared of murder last year after spending decades in prison will receive about $1.6 million from the state for their wrongful imprisonment, a judge ruled on Friday.

The Ohio Court of Claims judge ruled that Wiley Bridgeman and his brother, Kwame Ajamu, would get a combined $1.6 million from the state, court records show. The ruling comes just weeks after Ricky Jackson, who was also convicted for the 1975 murder, received roughly $1 million for his time served.

Bridgeman, Ajamu and Jackson were all convicted for killing Cleveland-area money order salesman Harold Franks after a 12-year-old boy testified that he saw the attack, court papers show.

The boy, Eddie Vernon, recanted his testimony years later, and told authorities he had never actually witnessed the crime. There was no other evidence linking Jackson to the killing.

Bridgeman was freed soon after Jackson, after the charges were dismissed last November. Although Bridgeman had first been freed in 2002, he was imprisoned again for a probation violation, defense attorneys said.

A Cleveland judge in December dropped all charges against Ajamu, who spent 27 years in jail before having his death sentence commuted and being freed in 2003.

The 39 years Jackson spent in jail was the longest time a prisoner had been held before being exonerated, the Ohio Innocence Project, which provided legal counsel to Jackson, and the National Registry of Exonerations said. (Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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