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Wrongfully Convicted Ohio Man Receives $250,000 Award

On January 11, 2001, a Columbus, Ohio man who spent nearly six years in prison for three rapes he did not commit was awarded almost $250,000 in damages by the Ohio Court of Claims.

Walter D. Smith, 43, was released from the Madison Correctional Institution on December 6, 1996 after serving 12 years for attempted armed robbery as well as the rapes. As Smith was awaiting sentencing on the armed robbery, three women identified him as a rapist. The rape convictions added 78 to 190 years to his sentence.

A Toledo lawyer, Daniel F. Marinik, later persuaded Franklin County prosecutor Michael Miller to reopen the case, which he did in 1996. Smith's family then raised $2,000 for a DNA test, which proved he was not the rapist.

Judge J. Warren Bettis then signed an order for the state to pay Smith $249,989.05, based on an Ohio law that calls for $25,000 a year plus lost wages for those wrongfully imprisoned. The judge ruled that Smith should have been properly released on the attempted robbery conviction by February 13, 1991. That meant Smith served five years and 297 days longer than necessary. That calculated to $145,342.47 under the $25,000ayear guaranteed payment and $104,646.58 in lost income.

Source: The Dispatch Statehouse Reporter (Ohio)

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