After spending nearly 40 years in prison for murder, Ricky Jackson will be freed this week after the primary witness against him–then an adolescent boy–recanted, reports the Cleveland Scene. In 2011, the weekly raised questions about the conviction in an investigation by reporter Kyle Swenson. The Ohio Innocence Project took up the case. Jackson and brothers Wiley and Ronnie Bridgemen were convicted for the 1975 slaying of a salesmen, Harold Franks, based largely on the testimony of Ed Vernon, who was 12 when he said he witnessed the shooting.
This week, Vernon acknowledged during a court hearing that he had lied. He said details about the shooting were “fed to me” by police. He said he was trying to please the police, then hid his secret for decades, fearing he would face criminal charges. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty said the state would drop its opposition to Jackson’s motion for a new trial and would dismiss the charges against the three men. Ronnie Bridgeman was paroled after 25 years in prison. Wiley Bridgeman is still locked up but presumably will be released, as well.