OIP Victory in Non-DNA Case
Ohio Innocence Project attorney Karla Hall and local Cincinnati criminal defense lawyer Bill Gallagher got a victory February 10 in a non-dna case OIP has been litigating for several years. The client, Bryant Gaines, has been in prison since 2003 on a 15-to-life sentence for murder, and the original conviction had been based primarily on snitch testimony.
The investigation by Hall and several years of law students uncovered the recantation of the original witnesses as well as a powerful new witness---an older gentlemen in the neighborhood who saw the shooting up close. He knew OIP's client, Gaines, was innocent, but had been too afraid to come forward previously because of the dangerous characters involved. The students through the years who worked on the investigation include Mandy Shoemaker '09, Greg Carter '09, Jason Masterson '10, Chad Thompson (3L), Marie Alou (3L) and Jing Zhang (3L), and currently Jessica Lantaff (2L) and Kayla Delk (2L).
Hall first moved for a new trial several years ago. This story that published in Citybeat back at that time discusses the case in detail: http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/article-16806-down-by-law.html
That original motion for new trial was denied, and she appealed it to the First District Court of Appeals. That court reversed and said there was enough evidence for a hearing. The evidentiary hearing was held in December 2010 with a new judge on the trial bench. The decision was released this morning: conviction overturned and new trial ordered. There are really no witnesses left to testify against our client for there to be a new trial. The state has indicated it plans to appeal this decision, so a final resolution may be a year or two in the distance.
Congratulations to Karla Hall, Bill Gallagher, and all the students who worked on this case over the years.