Men wrongly imprisoned for murder get millions from Ohio

AP News
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Posted: Feb 24, 2016 12:05 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Two Ohio brothers who spent decades in prison for a murder they didn't commit will receive millions in additional compensation from the Ohio Court of Claims.

The court said Tuesday that 61-year-old Wiley Bridgeman will receive $2.4 million and 58-year-old Kwame Ajamu nearly $2 million for being wrongfully imprisoned in the 1975 slaying of a salesman outside a corner store in Cleveland.

Bridgeman received an initial payment of $970,000 and Ajamu, his brother previously known as Ronnie Bridgeman, got $648,000 from the court last year. A third man convicted in the slaying, 59-year-old Ricky Jackson, has received $1 million, so far.

Jackson spent 39 years in prison, Bridgeman 37 years and Ajamu 25 years. All initially received death sentences.

They were exonerated last year after a key witness, who was 13 when he testified, recanted.

The witness, Eddie Vernon, now in his 50s, said in 2013 that Cleveland police detectives threatened to put his parents in jail and coerced him into implicating the brothers and Jackson in the 1975 slaying of Harold Franks.

In July, Bridgeman and Ajamu filed a federal lawsuit against the city and several living and deceased detectives. Jackson filed a similar suit. The city has declined to comment.

Jackson and the Bridgeman brothers received death sentences that were later commuted to life in prison. Jackson's attorneys say he is believed to have served the longest prison term in the U.S. for someone wrongfully convicted — 39 years.