Kwame Ajamu, 56, was the last of three men exonerated in a Cleveland robbery and murder of a money order salesman. After spending 27 years in prison, all charges against Ajamu were dropped yesterday (Dec. 9).
“I’m so happy today that this battle has come to an end,” Ajamu said, tearfully thanking his wife and hugging the judge and prosecutor, NBC News reports.
Ajamu and the two other men wrongfully charged – Wiley Bridgeman, 60 (Ajamu’s brother), and Ricky Jackson, 57 – were freed from prison after a witness who identified them came forward to admit that his statement was false. Eddie Vernon, who was 12 at the time, says police coerced him into testifying. Both Bridgeman and Jackson spent 39 years in prison.
Under Ohio state law, inmates who are freed after wrongful conviction can earn up to $40,000 per year they were imprisoned. Bridgeman and Jackson could receive up to $1.5 million, while Ajamu could get up to $1.1 million. County prosecutors have vowed not to contest their claims in court to collect.
Read more on Ajamu, Bridgeman and Jackson’s exoneration here.