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11th Victory for OIP


Earlier this month the Ohio Innocence Project (OIP) team was victorious in a case they have been working on for more than five years.

 April 1, 2011 staff attorney Carrie Wood walked long-time client Wally Zimmer out of a courtroom in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) after he served 12 years for a murder that DNA evidence proved he did not commit.

Zimmer and his co-defendant Thomas Siller were originally convicted of murder 12 years ago based primarily on “snitch” testimony. The snitch, originally indicted as the sole perpetrator of the crime, had convinced the police that he did not do it, but merely saw Zimmer and Siller commit the murder.  The snitch then testified at trial that he came upon the crime scene and saw Zimmer and Siller committing the murder.  Zimmer and Siller always claimed that they played no part in the murder.  The snitch committed the murder, they claimed, and simply blamed them to save his own skin.

Recent DNA testing found the snitch's DNA all over the crime scene, including on the cloth bindings that were used to tie the victim.  Zimmer and Siller's DNA was nowhere to be found. The pants that the snitch was wearing on the day of the murder were also tested, and droplet remains of the victim's blood were found on those pants.  This evidence corroborated Zimmer and Siller's defense, showing that the snitch had been lying at trial, just as Zimmer and Siller contended. UC’s OIP represented Zimmer, and the Innocence Project in NYC represented Siller.

After the DNA results came back, the prosecutors offered to release Zimmer immediately if he would plead guilty to a theft charge in exchange for having the murder charges dropped.  Zimmer took the deal.  After his plea to theft, he was released and prosecutors dismissed the murder charges against him.  Siller was released earlier this week on the same deal.

Congratulations to Carrie Wood, the staff attorney who adeptly handled this case.  She did an excellent job negotiating through a complicated set of circumstances to get an excellent result for OIP’s client.  And congratulations to the students who worked on this case through the years (perhaps five classes of students), including current fellows Scott Crowley ’11, Elise Lucas ’11, Andrew Cleves ’12, and Sean Martz ‘12.