Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Will Retry Two Cleveland Men Who Profess Innocence in 2006 Shooting Case

click to enlarge Michael Sutton - FAMILY PHOTO
Family photo
Michael Sutton

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Mike O'Malley this week said he will retry to Cleveland men for a 2006 shooting in which they've professed their innocence.

An appeals court this year overturned the convictions of Michael Sutton and Kenneth Phillips and ordered a new trial.

O'Malley's office had appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court asking the judges to overrule the decision, but in a 5-1 vote this week the state's high court voted to not take up the appeal.

“We respect the court’s decision and we will begin to prepare the case for a new trial,” spokesman Tyler Sinclair said. “Two of the four victims were shot in the head and suffered serious permanent injuries. We owe them nothing less.”

No physical evidence tied the two to the shootings, and they were convicted solely on the testimony of two Cleveland police officers who claimed Sutton and Phillips fired shots into a car and then shot at officers once they gave chase.

Two other officers, however, gave testimony to the Ohio Innocence Project and the duo's public defenders that contradicted the original story. The shots that instigated the chase that night in 2006 didn't come from the car Sutton and Phillips were in, they said, and they heard no other shots once the chase began.

(You can read Scene's full account of the appeals court ruling and the new evidence here.)

“Michael and Kenny are innocent, and were convicted only because prosecutors failed to disclose evidence that was favorable to them,” said Donald Caster, a staff attorney at the Ohio Innocence Project who represents Sutton. “We are hopeful that the Cuyahoga County prosecutor will finally do the right thing and dismiss the charges against them, finally permitting Michael and Kenny to begin rebuilding their lives.”

Sutton and Phillips are currently out on bond as they await a new trial date.
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