Yesterday, Dean Gillispie, 47, the Ohio Innocence Project’s first client, had yet another court victory. The Ohio Supreme Court declined to hear Montgomery County Prosecutor Mathias Heck’s appeal of an earlier court decision that vacated Gillispie’s conviction and sentences.
Gillispie spent 20 years in prison for three 1988 rapes, which he always said he did not commit. His identification by victims in a photo line-up occurred two years after the crimes. No physical evidence connected Gillispie to the crimes.
In December 2011, U.S. District Magistrate Judge Michael R. Merz ordered Gillispie’s release after determining that he did not get a fair trial. Prosecutors had failed to reveal to the defense that the original Miami Township Police detectives in the case had eliminated Gillispie as a suspect due to the substantial differences in Gillispie’s appearance and the victims’ description of the perpetrator. According to the detectives, Gillispie, with a clean record, also did not fit the profile of a brazen rapist who abducted victims in broad daylight.
In April 2012, the Second District Court of Appeals also vacated Gillispie’s conviction and sentences after concluding that newly discovered evidence in the case created “a strong probability that the jury would reach a different conclusion if the newly discovered evidence were before it.”
Having won in both state and federal courts with the appeal declined by the Ohio Supreme Court, Ohio Innocence Project Director Mark Godsey will seek to remove Gillispie’s sex offender status, which no longer has legal basis.