An Ohio black man who spent over two decades in jail for a crime that “wasn’t committed by anyone” will receive $1.3 million from the state.
Smith was initially handed down a 67-year prison sentence in 2000 on charges of aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, and kidnapping along with a firearm specification. Prosecutors alleged that Smith and a second Black man broke into a family home and stole rare comic books, jewelry, and roughly $10,000 in cash.
There was no evidence that linked Smith to the alleged incident, but a man and woman, who claimed to be the victims of burglary, identified him from a series of photos.
After spending nearly two decades in prison, Smith sought out a new trial in 2020 through defense attorney Joseph Landusky.
“When I read about his case and started getting into it, I really believed that a crime didn’t even happen in this case,” Landusky said, per WBNS-TV.
A motion filed by Landusky for a new trial cited a handwritten police report that contained “numerous observations expressing skepticism about whether a crime had occurred.”
“He was sentenced to 67 years in prison for a crime that was not even committed by anyone,” Landusky said. “When first responders showed up, there were no footprints in the snow. It had recently snowed. There was a dog barking right next door when they pulled up, the neighbors said no dog had barked in the last hour.”
Fairfield County Prosecutor Kyle Witt declined to pursue a new trial in 2021 and dropped all the charges against Smith.
With his newly-awarded 1.3 million settlement, Smith said he will pay his legal team and use the rest to support his family.
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