Innocent Man Will be Released from Prison Friday After Serving 39 Years

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The testimony of Eddie Vernon, a 12-year-old at the time, helped send Ricky Jackson to prison in 1975. But he now says that testimony was false, and without it, the case against Jackson falls apart – something a judge, Jackson’s attorneys and even prosecutors agreed on yesterday.

That agreement ended a two-day hearing in which the evidence in Jackson’s favor was so overwhelming that the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office decided to drop the case against him immediately, paving the way for a speedy release.

"It came as a surprise," said Mark Godsey, head of the Ohio Innocence Project, which fought to free Jackson. Godsey said normally in such hearings, each side makes its case, then the judge’s opinion can take months.

"But the prosecution sped that up by coming in and saying, ‘We’re going to concede the obvious,’ and they deserve a lot of credit for that," he said.

Godsey said Jackson, who is 57, cried as he reached out in handcuffs to shake the prosecutor’s hand.

The Innocence Project will buy Jackson some essential items, like clothing, and there’s a fundraising effort underway to help him get on his feet.

Godsey said Jackson might be able to get state compensation, but the process is long.

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