Cleveland man released after spending 27 years in prison for murder he says he didn’t commit

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CLEVELAND --  A Cleveland man is out of prison after spending 27 years behind bars for a crime he says he did not commit.

Tuesday, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Robert McClelland ordered that Charles Jackson, 54, be released from custody.

"Thank you, thank you. God bless all of you. I'm just happy to be here, you know? I'm overwhelmed; I'm lost for words right now," said Jackson, moments after he was released.

"I just want to go home; I want to go home," he then told Fox 8.

Jackson’s case was handled by lawyers from the Ohio Innocence Project. He was convicted of aggravated murder and attempted murder for a shooting back in 1991 and sentenced to 27 years to life. He has always maintained his innocence.

"My daughter, her degree is in criminal justice, so he had asked her to start working on his case," said Jackson’s sister, Dorothy Foster.

"I found a whole lot of stuff that was in the case and so I'd come back to him or my mom and the lawyers and I'd tell them, like look at this," said his niece, Latricia Foster Nettles.

According to the Innocence Project, their lawyers successfully argued for him to get a new trial.

His attorneys argued that prosecutors withheld evidence that would have shown that he did not commit the murder.

Mallorie Thomas, attorney for the Ohio Innocence Project,  told Fox 8 that witness testimony at trial was drastically different than the narrative written in Cleveland police reports, which they were later able to obtain.

"At trial, there's no physical evidence, nothing, just the statements of two eyewitnesses. The entire case, you know, but for these two witnesses, they'd have no case, whatsoever, and had they turned over all this new evidence that we know about now through public records requests, it would have been a very different trial," Thomas said.

Jackson’s lawyers contended that if the evidence would have been presented to the jury, there is a high likelihood that he would have been acquitted.

According to the Innocence Project, Cuyahoga County prosecutors agreed that a bond should be set so that Jackson could be released from prison. He is out on $50,000 bond.   The prosecutor’s office will continue to investigate the case and Jackson could be tried again.

A pretrial hearing in the case is scheduled for January 4.

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