Wow! Another wrongful conviction overturned. Raymond Towler has been locked up since Reagan was president, gas cost $1.25 a gallon and Kool and The Gang was in the Top Ten. Pop the hood.
The Ohio Innocence Project just helped give this man his life back through DNA testing. The Columbus Dispatch reports:
Cuyahoga County Judge Eileen A. Gallagher broke down on the bench this morning as she freed a man who has served 29 years for a rape he did not commit.
After a 10-minute hearing, Gallagher approved a prosecutor’s request to release Ray Towler from his life sentence and declared him innocent.
Gallagher stepped down from the bench, approached Towler with an extended hand, and said, “Mr. Towler, you are free to go,” as she shook his hand, tears streaming down her face.
Towler beamed throughout the hearing, waved to family members in the back of the courtroom, and again showed no signs of anger or animosity for losing so many years behind bars.
“I just waited for the sun to come up today and it did. And for the first time in a long time, I get to walk in the sun outside of prison,” Towler [said] after his release.
“This is the greatest day of my life, and it’s pure joy; I have no hate for anyone,” said the 52-year-old Cleveland native in a phone interview yesterday. “I suppose hoping to see LeBron play in person is too much to ask, but at least I can watch the games from outside the barbed wire. I get to start a new life, and the Cavs are going to win the championship. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
Towler, who was proved innocent by DNA testing, is expected to be released from the Grafton Correctional Institution this morning after an appearance in Cuyahoga Common Pleas Court.
DNA testing has exonerated 253 men nationally, but only a few have served more time than Towler.
He is the third man to be freed in connection with the Dispatch project, Test of Convictions, which was first published in January 2008. The series exposed flaws in the Ohio DNA-testing system, reviewed more than 300 cases with the Ohio Innocence Project and then highlighted 30 prisoners, including Towler, as prime candidates for DNA testing.
“We believed in Ray’s case from the beginning, and this is the latest reminder of how important DNA testing can be in the search for justice,” said Mark Godsey, director of the Innocence Project who represented Towler. “He is innocent, and the prosecutors agree.”
Thank God this innocent brother has been set free, it makes you wonder how many other folks are behind bars for no good reason.