U.S. News & World Report: UC’s OIP frees man after 45+ years in prison

An Ohio man who was freed with the help of the Ohio Innocence Project at the University of Cincinnati College of Law after serving nearly 46 years in prison for a crime he did not commit is making headlines across the nation.

Isiah Andrews, now 82, thought he’d die in prison after he was convicted in 1975 of the murder of his wife of just three weeks, Regina Andrews. But on May 6, Andrews, who’s always maintained his innocence, finally walked free after a team of UC faculty, attorneys and students discovered evidence that strongly implicated another man, Willie Watts, committed the murder, but that evidence had been unlawfully suppressed from Andrews' defense for 45 years.

OIP attorneys argued that if Andrews’ defense had known about Watts during his original trial in 1975, there is a reasonable chance he may have been acquitted—and Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Robert McClelland agreed. On May 1, McClelland threw out Andrews’ conviction and ordered a new trial on the basis Andrews’ defense was never provided evidence regarding Watts.

“It’s hard to say that Isiah Andrews is lucky after all the wrongs that have been done to him the course of his life,” said Brian Howe, an OIP staff attorney and assistant professor of clinical law at the UC college. “But in 99 times out of 100, he would have died in prison. This would have been successfully covered up. No one would have found out about Willie Watts.”

“There are so many cases where the evidence never comes out and the person maintains their innocence until they die, and the case is forgotten,” said Howe. “How many other people are out there who just don’t get lucky like that?”

Here’s a round-up of some of the media coverage generated by Andrews’ case:


Featured image at top: Brian Howe and Isiah Andrews after Andrews' release on Wednesday, May 6, 2020. Photo: Mark Godsey

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