Ohio man to receive $2.3M award for wrongful conviction
Anthony Lemons spent 17 years in prison for the murder of Eric Sims
CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - From the very start, Anthony Lemons said he was innocent but it took almost two decades for some to see it.
“All I wanted was justice from the beginning,” he said.
Lemons was convicted of murdering Eric Sims in Cleveland back in 1995.
With no forensic evidence connecting him to the crime, he was sentenced to life in prison off eyewitness testimony.
He spent 17 years in prison, his lawyers fighting every step of the way for his release.
“All of us that live in civil society trust that the rules we abide by are fair. And when we realize that the rules we used were to create an unjust result like this, it reflects on every one of us and says that the system is broken in these instances,” said civil rights attorney, Al Gerhardstein.
Gerhardstein says the team of attorneys including David Malik, Kevin Spellacy and Sara Gedeon went back and forth with the state, suing for wrongful conviction.
The lawsuit was opposed by Cuyahoga County prosecutor, Michael O’Malley but the team finally won. Lemons is expected to receive almost $2.3 Million for statutory damages, lost wages, attorney fees and expenses.
“It feels good to get Anthony Lemons out but it makes you worry about how many other Anthony Lemons are out there,” said Gerhardstein. “These are tragedies. We need to make sure that when we originally prosecute people, we get it right. Or else their lives are ruined, their families lives are ruined, and all of us, we’re living in an unjust world and that’s not right,” he said.
“So I have to ask you, does this mean there’s still a killer walking free?” asked 19 News reporter Sia Nyorkor.
“Yes, you’re absolutely right. In 1995, someone killed Eric Sims and he has never been held accountable,” said Gerhardstein.
Lemons declined an on-camera interview with 19 News instead of letting his attorneys speak for him.
Gerhardstein tells 19 News Lemons is looking forward to spending time with his family and starting his own business, still fighting to get others justice.
The Ohio Controlling Board is expected to approve the final payment to Lemons on Monday, November 21.
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