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Since 1989, two-thousand and five people have been exonerated from Prison in the U.S. Ricky, a man from Cleveland, being one of those exonerated.

In 1975, when Ricky was only 18-years-old a man was robbed and murdered in Ricky’s Cleveland neighborhood. Days later, armed policemen went to his home, kicked in his door and arrested him. All because of a testimony given by a young man who claimed was a witness of the murder. Because of the testimony given by that young man Ricky and two of his friends were sent to prison and sentenced for the death penalty.

To be sent to prison for something you didn’t do is so indescribable,” Ricky expressed. He believed his case was completely forgotten about; when in fact the opposite was true. Little did he know the Ohio Innocence Project was fighting to discover the truth. The witness who testified against Ricky and his two friends in 1975 had a change of heart and recanted, releasing Ricky into society again as a free man. “After 39 years, I was finally able to walk out” said Ricky.

Ricky is one of the longest-serving prisoners to have been exonerated in the United States. While serving time in prison his mother passed away. “I couldn’t even grieve for my mother because they had made me so callus,” Ricky laments. After being released he met with his accuser, now a middle aged man. Ricky said it was important for him to see him and tell him, “I understand now.” Because he felt he was a victim just as much as he was. Ricky said, “I wanted him to move on with his life, as I was going to move on with mine.”

Attorney Mark Godsey, of the Ohio Innocence Project explained that it took years of effort to exonerate Ricky. Brian Howe, an attorney had law students going door-to-door in the Cleveland neighborhood looking for witnesses who remembered the case.

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