New trial ordered for convicted Cleveland killer in 30-year fight for justice


CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) — A Cuyahoga County judge has granted a new trial to a convicted killer featured last month in a report by the FOX 8 I-Team.

Judge Dick Ambrose ordered a new trial for John Tiedjen.

In his opinion, Judge Ambrose wrote, in part, “material photographical evidence, as well as other favorable evidence, was not disclosed to defendant prior to trial.”

Tiedjen’s attorney, Kim Corral, shared the news with him behind bars recording the moment on her phone.

The video shows Corral saying, “You got a new trial.” Tiedjen paused and rocked back for a moment before he said, “Oh my God!”

He then gave his lawyer a high-five through the jail glass separating inmates from visitors.

Kim Corral said, “We finally got a little justice on his side, and we’re just exited to move forward. And, being able to tell him that news, that was amazing.”

Last month, the I-Team captured John Tiedjen walking into Cuyahoga County Court trying to clear his name and go home after already doing more than 30 years in prison.

Tiedjen has been serving a sentence of 18 years to life in prison. Convicted for killing his roommate in Cleveland in 1989.

Tuesday, the I-Team also spoke to Tiedjen in a jailhouse phone call.

He said, “At some point, I thought I was gonna die in prison ‘cause no one cared. I didn’t do the crime, so…”

At a recent hearing, his lawyer showed the court crime scene photos, and she argued some had been kept hidden from the defense team. She also argued some photos revealed possible evidence that was never investigated.

An evidence specialist with a company called Evidence Room also created an animation to show the victim took his own life, and police got it wrong. Scott Roder also stressed the questions raised with a closer look at the crime scene photos.

Scott Roder said, “Some of these photographs don’t nearly come to any level of a complete or comprehensive documentation of this crime scene.”

Again, the judge’s order grants Tiedjen a new trial, but it does not completely clear him.    

And, Cuyahoga County Prosecutors plan to fight the order. Spokesman Tyler Sinclair issued a statement saying, “The defendant has confessed to committing this murder to both his brother and law enforcement.  The judge’s decision contains numerous critical factual errors.  As expected, we will be appealing this decision.”  

In that jailhouse phone call, the I-Team also asked Tiedjen about a confession and conflicting statements. He said, “I never admitted to doing anything. The statement was made under duress. It was manipulated.”                                                                                                                                              

Attorney Corral added, “Where do I go from here? I get ready for trial. And we’re ready.” The defense argues Tiedjen’s roommate took his own life.   

 The new trial date has been set for next month although that is unlikely to stand if prosecutors appeal.

Tiedjen remains locked up in the Cuyahoga County Jail, but he sits there with new hope for getting out into the public for the first time in more than 30 years.

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