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$5.25 Million Paid to Former Ohio Prisoner for Wrongful Murder Conviction

The City of Barberton, Ohio has paid $5.25 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a man wrongfully convicted of murder. Clarence Elkins spent almost eight years in prison before being exonerated by DNA evidence in 2005.

Elkins had been charged with the 1998 murder of his mother-in-law, Judith Johnson. His conviction hinged largely on the testimony of his 6-year-old niece, who testified at trial that Elkins was the intruder who beat, choked and raped her, then killed Johnson.

Upon awakening from the beating, the girl ran to a neighbor’s home for help. As it turned out, the neighbor, Tonia Brasiel, was the girlfriend of the actual perpetrator of the crime, Earl Gene Mann. It was alleged that Brasiel influenced Elkins’ niece to name him as a suspect. DNA testing in 2005 linked Mann to the rape and murder, and he confessed in 2008. He is now serving a life sentence.

The City of Barberton agreed to settle the lawsuit on behalf of the four police officers who had investigated the case and charged Elkins, following an August 2010 federal appellate decision that found the officers had ignored evidence implicating Mann in the crime. See: Elkins v. Summit County, Ohio, 615 F.3d 671 (6th Cir. 2010).

The settlement with the city, reached on November 16, 2010, will be shared by Elkins, his wife and their two adult sons. Previously, in 2006, Elkins had received a $1.075 million settlement from the State of Ohio.

“For the Elkins family, it has been a long time coming for them and they are very pleased with the results,” said Russell Ainsworth, a Chicago attorney who represented the family. “No amount of money is going to restore what the Elkinses had, but hopefully this will put to rest the legal struggle they had and trying to prove the justice they should have had all along.” See: Elkins v. Summit County, Ohio, U.S.D.C. (N.D. Ohio), Case No. 5:06-cv-03004-JG.

Sources: Beacon Journal,

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Related legal cases

Elkins v. Summit County, Ohio

Elkins v. Summit County, Ohio