Ricky Jackson, Wrongfully Convicted Of Murder, To Be Freed After 39 Years In Prison

Ricky Jackson

A man who spent nearly four decades in prison after being convicted of murder is expected to be freed Friday after a witness confessed he lied as a boy when he told jurors he saw the deadly attack.

Ricky Jackson had been seeking a new trial and sobbed loudly with his face in his hands as prosecutors dismissed his case Tuesday. “I can’t believe this is over,” Jackson, 57, said, thanking his supporters and his attorneys from the Ohio Innocence Project.

Jackson has been imprisoned for 39 years, serving a life sentence for aggravated murder and other charges, according to state prison records. He is expected to be released as soon as the paperwork is finished.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said the case fell apart after witness Eddie Vernon recanted. Vernon said he had been fed details of the crime by police and kept quiet about his lies because investigators had threatened to imprison his parents.

Vernon was 12 when he accused Jackson and two brothers in the May 1975 killing of a money-order collector who authorities said was beaten, shot and attacked with acid as he walked near a grocery store. No evidence connected the defendants to the crime, but all three were convicted by juries.

This week, Vernon told a judge he was trying to please others when he provided a false story based on information from a friend and police who fed him details, creating a web of lies that helped convict Jackson and the other men. He said he gave authorities the names of the three men because he thought he was doing the right thing.

“All the information was fed to me,” said Vernon, who came forward to change his story after speaking with a pastor. “I don’t have any knowledge about what happened at the scene of the crime.” He’s been nearby on a bus when he heard two pops, but couldn’t see what occurred. Others who were on the bus also testified he wasn’t in position to see the slaying.

Prosecutors had been skeptical of Vernon but acknowledged after the hearing, the case didn’t hold up.

“You made the right choice,” Judge Richard McMonagle told McGinty.

Attorneys for the two convicted brothers, Wiley and Ronnie Bridgeman, also sought a new trial based on Vernon’s information and are expected to ask prosecutors to drop that case, too, the newspaper reported.

Ronnie Bridgeman spent more than 25 years in prison, and his brother remains incarcerated.

A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said it doesn’t anticipate charging Vernon.


8 thoughts on “Ricky Jackson, Wrongfully Convicted Of Murder, To Be Freed After 39 Years In Prison

  1. 40 YEARS IN PRISON!!! I can’t understand a jury (much less a prosecutor) trying & convicting men for such a crime w/o any direct evidence. The systemic bias, racism and abuse of power that’s oppressing black men in this country is hardly ever punished criminally even though it’s being exposed publicly. Unless there’s accountability there’s no incentive for the corruption to stop. And not just lawsuits paid by taxpayers. Its the cops, prosecutors and even those defense lawyers making erroneous deals and the judges who enable them, they all need to fear prison themselves. They should always be aware, that at any point in time, they could be standing on the other side of the prison bars for misconduct.

    Those who would do that to other human beings aren’t redeemable and they have to be weeded out. Because until they face serious consequences they’ll never stop. The power is too great. They feel invincible.

  2. I am very happy for this man. The government will give him a stack of money because they were wrong. My question is how do we give him back his life? His family and friends. His career. How do we make up to him for all he suffered in prison? Will he be able to forgive the witness who robbed him of really living? I feel so sorry about this but my apology doesn’t mean much I am sure. May the remainder of your life be blessed and peaceful. Hugs, Barbara

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