Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Ohio Man Awarded $618,000 for Nearly 16 Years Wrongful Imprisonment

On August 15, 2005, the Ohio Court of Claims awarded $618,683.33 to a man who spent nearly 16 years in prison for a rape he did not commit.
Donte L. Booker was arrested for a carjacking outside a Beachwood, Ohio bar in February 1987. During the crime Booker used a toy handgun which Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason said was stolen from a rape victims car four months earlier. Booker claimed he purchased the gun at a local store and that it was never positively identified as belonging to the victim. Nonetheless, police asserted Booker was the rapist, and the victim picked him out of a lineup.

Booker was tried and convicted for the rape and the carjacking at the same time. He received consecutive sentences of 10 to 25 years for rape, kidnapping and robbery, and 3 to 15 years for the carjacking.

Booker was imprisoned following the 1987 trial until he was paroled in December 2002. He was returned to prison for 9 months in March 2004 on a parole violation. It was during this time that he used a 2003 law to request a DNA test. The law, which was subsequently extended until October 2005, allowed persons who had not pled guilty to request DNA testing if they believed it could exonerate them. In January 2005, the DNA test results proved Booker was innocent of the rape.

The award was less than the $40,330 for each year of wrongful imprisonment, plus attorney fees and lost wages, that Booker should have been entitled to under state guidelines. It was an adjusting down of the $40,000 to take into consideration other factors [i.e., Bookers arrest record], said Assistant Attorney General Paula Paoletti.

But its still more than state officials wanted to pay. While not contesting Bookers innocence claim, Mason argued that regardless of the rape, Booker would have served a substantial amount of time for the carjacking alone. There is one year, and my guess is probably as many as six years that Booker was wrongfully imprisoned, Mason stated.
W. Scott Ramsey, Bookers attorney, disagreed. If not for the rape conviction, he contended, Booker may have received probation and never have set foot inside a prison. Its possible he should not have gone at all and if he did go, he wouldnt have had to serve nearly a quarter of what he served, said Ramsey, who had asked for $1.4 million.

Booker, now 38, says restoring his reputation was more important than any financial gain. The money, of course, I do need it, said Booker, who admitted only to the carjacking. But my main concern was getting this off my record because it is so humiliating being labeled a rapist. See: Booker v. State of Ohio, Ohio Court of Claims, Case No. C2005-03393.

Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Booker v. State of Ohio