CLEVELAND – A man freed from prison after spending 18 years behind bars for a murder he said he didn't commit is fighting for a declaration of innocence that could allow him to receive compensation.
Anthony Lemons sought a new trial and proved that shoes used to connect him to the case weren't made at the time of the 1994 shooting of Eric Sims, Cleveland.com reported (http://bit.ly/2dVd3Q5). Prosecutors dropped charges against him in December 2014. He was declared not guilty by a judge, but prosecutors stopped short of conceding his innocence.
Lemons then pursued a wrongful conviction certificate from another judge. That certificate could decide whether he can collect the $500,000 he believes he's owed for his time spent behind bars.
Lemons' attorneys called five witnesses during a hearing held in May, including Denise Kovach, the detective who investigated Sims' killing. During the civil proceeding, where evidence barred in the retrial was allowed, Kovach said she "still considers Anthony Lemons a murderer who was appropriately convicted."
Judge Daniel Gaul also reviewed the transcript of the original testimony from the crime's only witness, who died in 1996. The transcript was barred from Lemons' criminal retrial.
The judge denied Lemons' request to be declared innocent, writing in his decision that the court found a transcript from original testimony from the crime's only witness and Kovach's testimony the most persuasive of the trial.
Lemons has appealed to state court and prosecutors have until Tuesday to file a response.
Information from: cleveland.com, http://www.cleveland.com