1:57 PM PDT, October 28, 2021
An 83-year-old Ohio man, who had already served 45 years of a life sentence in prison, was acquitted by a Cleveland jury on Wednesday due to withheld evidence, officials said, according to published reports.
Isaiah Andrews, who spent decades in prison for a crime he maintained he did not commit, nodded his head and gave a thumbs-up after the not-guilty verdict was read by Judge Timothy J.McGinty at Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, according to cleveland.com.
The jury deliberated for less than 90 minutes before Wednesday’s verdict, the news outlet reported.
“I’ve become free,” Andrews said to a group of reporters in the courtroom, and added that he “was relieved,” Cleveland.com reported.
This was the second trial for Andrews, who was charged with aggravated murder in the 1974 killing of his wife, Regina Andrews, a report said.
Andrews had been released from prison last year after a judge ruled that prosecutors failed to tell a jury at his 1975 trial that police had interviewed another suspect in the killing of his wife, according to the Associated Press.
Attorneys for the Ohio Innocence Project had hoped Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley would dismiss the charge against Andrews. O’Malley instead offered a plea bargain that would keep Andrews out of prison if he pleaded guilty to killing his wife, the news outlet reported.
However, Andrews had rejected the offer, telling Judge Tim McGinty, “I want justice for my wife.”
Cleveland police initially arrested another man who provided an alibi for the time period when detectives initially believed Regina Andrews was killed. Detectives didn’t question the man again after reconsidering their timeline. The other suspect died in 2011, the AP reported.
There was no physical evidence linking Isaiah Andrews to the slaying, a report said.
The new trial mostly consisted of transcripts from the first trial being read because detectives who investigated the case in the 1970s have since died, ABC News reported.
On Wednesday in the courtroom, Andrews hugged his attorney and the other men whose convictions in Cuyahoga County were overturned with the help of the Ohio Innocence Project.
Defense attorney Marcus Sidoti and Ohio Innocence Project staff attorney Brian Howe, who took up Andrews’ case in 2015, said after the hearing that the jury got it right.
Howe said that Andrews, who relies on a wheelchair and has seen his health decline as prosecutors sought to retry him, told the news outlet that he’ll never be able to get the last 46 years of his life back, cleveland.com reported.
“This was the right result today, but I don’t know if he’ll ever get actual justice,” Howe said. “He should have never been convicted in the first place and he certainly never should have been retried.”