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Saturday 14 December 2019

American prisoner who was nearly executed found innocent after 39 years behind bars

New evidence led a court to clear Ricky Jackson of murder

Ricky Jackson
Ricky Jackson

Jon Stone

A US prisoner who once faced execution has been cleared of doing anything wrong after spending 39 years of his life in prison.

Ricky Jackson from Ohio spent almost four decades in captivity until a key witness at his trial admitted this year that he had lied as a boy.

Mr Jackson, now 57, was only spared execution because the state of Ohio temporarily abolished the death penalty in the 1970s, while he was on death row.

He was jailed alongside two other men over the 1975 murder of a Cleveland, Ohio man called Harold Franks. There was no other evidence linking the prisoner to the murder.

Mr Jackson is said to have cried in court as all charges were dropped against him. He is the longest-held US president to be completely exonerated, according to legal group the Ohio Innocence Project.

"The state is conceding the obvious," Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said, as charges were dropped against Mr Jackson.

He is expected to be freed on Friday 21 November.

The men jailed alongside Mr Jackson have also asked for a retrial, though their petitions have not yet received a response.

Authorities were said to be within 20 days of starting the execution of the men until Ohio ruled the death penalty unconstitutional.

Execution has since been reinstated as a punishment in the state, with those found guilty suffering a lethal injection.

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