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These Two Men Spent 39 Years In Jail And Were Sentenced To Death For A Crime They Did Not Commit

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On May 19, 1975, Ricky Jackson was a 20-year-old ex-Marine who had recently received an honorable discharge for health reasons. His 17-year-old friend Ronnie Bridgeman worked at a restaurant while he trained to be a welder at a nearby trade school. The two spent that day playing pick-up basketball at a local playground and then a game of chess at the Bridgeman home while Ronnie’s brother Wiley was washing his car outside. Meanwhile, in another part of their home town, a white businessman was killed by unknown assailants.

Less than a week later, all three were under arrest for a murder that they did not commit. Ronnie was finally paroled in 2003. Ricky Jackson and Wiley Bridgeman, by contrast, were just released from prison on Friday. It took 39 years for the state of Ohio to discover that it had locked up three men for a crime they did not commit.

Ricky and Wiley most likely owe their freedom to a 2011 article published by the Cleveland Scene which laid out the weakness of the case against them. The men were convicted based on the testimony of a 13-year-old boy with poor eyesight and conflicting stories. The boy, now a grown man, later filed an affidavit admitting that he never saw the murder. He also claims that he was threatened by police into identifying Jackson as one of the murderers.

“The detective said that I was too young to go to jail,” the witness said, “but he would arrest my parents for perjury because I was backing out. My mom was sick at that time, and that really scared me. I didn’t want my parents to get in trouble over this.”
The three innocent men were originally sentenced to death. Their lives were saved by a 1978 Supreme Court decision striking down an Ohio law making the death penalty mandatory in many murder cases.

The Heat Reporter
The Heat Reporterhttp://theheatmag.com
Known in entertainment circles as "LA Dre", the Editor of The Heat Magazine works tirelessly to bring you the latest & greatest in entertainment news. He spent years in the industry & now brings some of that insider knowledge to his readers.
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