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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

County Prosecutors Office Clears Way for Three Recently Exonerated Men to Pursue Civil Process After Wrongful Incarceration

Posted By on Wed, Dec 10, 2014 at 10:56 AM

Though Kwame Ajamu was paroled back in 2003, it wasn't until yesterday that he became a free man in the true sense.

He'd had the murder conviction dating back to 1975 hanging around his head for a crime that he, his brother Wiley Bridgeman and their friend Ricky Jackson didn't commit. Ajamu was just 17 years old at the time.

On November 21, Ricky Jackson and Wiley Bridgeman walked free as the state dropped its opposition to Jackson's motion for a new trial after a two-day hearing prompted by a key eye-witness, who was only 12 years old at the time of the crime, recanting his testimony. He had been coerced by police in various ways decades ago and pressured to point the finger at the trio, as Scene explained in a lengthy investigation in 2011.

Bridgeman and Jackson had been in jail for over 39 years. Ajamu had been out for over a decade. And yesterday, Ajamu appeared before Judge Pamela Barker to formally be cleared of that conviction.

And yesterday, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty gave the trio more good news, absolving all three of the crime and noting that his office would not oppose their efforts to seek restitution from the state of Ohio. The state doles out about $40,000 for every year of wrongful imprisonment, but that process only goes smoothly if prosecutors don't oppose their efforts. Many times, that's not the case. In addition, there may be a civil lawsuit seeking additional damages.

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