Freedom and Fishing…

As Nancy Petro reported yesterday, the Ohio Supreme Court declined jurisdiction yesterday in the state’s appeal in the case of Roger Dean Gillispie (a case featured in the book False Justice).  This means that Dean’s conviction for rape is finally thrown out for good.  At this point, the prosecution can choose to retry him if they wish.   We are waiting to hear what the next step will be.

The Ohio Innocence Project worked on this case beginning in January 2003.  It took us 9 years of investigation and litigation to finally free Dean in December 2011.  Dean kept sane in prison by painting, and by dreaming about the day he would be able to finally be able to go fishing once again.  Each time I visited Dean in prison, which was probably more than 30 visits over the years, we talked about fishing.  Dean and I are about the same age, and we both grew up fishing with our Dads from a very young age.  It is a part of our common background, our makeup, and our sentimental feelings of childhood.

Dean would ask me where I had fished recently and I would fill him in on all the details of my various fishing trips.  He always listened intently.  I couldn’t bring pictures into the prison, so I’d have to describe the fish in great detail.  It was clear to me that he kept his love of fishing alive by vicariously living through me.  In about 2007, he gave me this painting that he did for me in prison, which has hung on the wall in my office ever since:

Smallmouth Bass, by Roger Dean Gillispie

After Dean was released last year, I got the true honor of taking Dean fishing at Lake Erie, on a trip similar to what I had described to him for years.  During that trip, he caught the very same fish that he painted for me.  He released it back into the water, and gave it its freedom, as he always does now:

Smallmouth Bass, by Roger Dean Gillispie

Dean has gone fishing with his father, now retired, nearly every single day since his release.  Recently, his brother bought him a used boat, which Dean stayed  up for many nights in a row cleaning and getting into working condition.  Now it is finally ready to go, just in time for the Ohio Supreme Court’s ruling.  Congratulations to Dean on many more days of freedom and fishing.


11 responses to “Freedom and Fishing…

  1. Dean Gillispie is a remarkable man. I hope the prosecutors will finally allow him to go fishing as a totally free man.

  2. Docile Jim Brady – Columbus OH 43209

    Bravol ‼

  3. Great news and one step closer to what Dean deserves – exoneration and an end to all that he’s had to endure. So proud of OIP!

  4. It’s about damn time. Pardon my language. Congrats to Dean, Juana and the whole family, and thanks to Mark and everyone at OIP who contributed to this case.

  5. Mark –
    This inspiring story deeply moves me; and I type with teared eye. I am reminded of Proverbs 18:24 “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly; and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”

    If you and Dean were asked, which one gained the most from your friendship, I imagine each would point a finger towards the other.

    To each of you: May God continue to bless you and yours.

    Ray Metz

  6. What a beautiful reflection, Mark. Thank you for sharing it. Congratulations to you and Dean. You both have shown remarkable persistence and integrity in this long journey, and you remind us all to never take our freedom or justice for granted.

  7. Dean deserves to be happy and live a long carefree life after what they put him through. He is an amazing man and I love him dearly along with my whole family. I wish him only happiness and joy!!

  8. This is incredibly gratifying. Dean is the nicest man you would ever want to meet, but clearly has a backbone of steel. Thanks, Mark.

  9. Thanks for the post….I enjoy it!

  10. I really enjoyed this post. It’s wonderful to see Dean enjoying the freedom he so deserves! The IC gave him his life back. How incredibly rewarding that must be.

  11. Thank God for the OIP they are trying to help my son now he’s been locked up almost 6 years now. I pray for the day he comes home.

Leave a Reply to Nancy Petro Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s