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Washington Post: UC’s OIP frees 29th defendant amid COVID-19 scare

The case of an Ohio man who walked free last month after serving 12 years in prison for a crime in which DNA evidence implicated another suspect is attracting national attention.

Chris Smith marked the 29th person freed with the help the Ohio Innocence Project at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. A 30th client, Isiah Andrews, celebrated his freedom two weeks later.

A federal judge overturned Smith’s 2008 conviction for armed robbery on April 9, and issued an order calling for his immediate release. Yet Smith’s attorneys say various officials defied the order and continued to hold Smith—who is at special medical risk from COVID-19—in custody for five more days, first at the Toledo Correctional Institution, where he’d been serving his sentence, and then at the Hamilton County Justice Center in Cincinnati.

It took two more court orders—one from a Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas judge and a third from the same federal judge—before Smith was finally released on April 14. 

Michele Berry Godsey, a 2006 UC College of Law alumnus and former OIP participant, represented Smith both at his original trial in Hamilton County 12 years ago and in his appeal. Throughout the trial, she repeatedly requested DNA evidence found on a disguise worn by the perpetrator during the robbery, but didn’t receive the full DNA evidence until several months after Smith’s conviction.

Smith appealed on various constitutional violations. In June 2019, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Smith’s favor and sent the case back to the lower court to resolve final issues.

Read the original story here: UC’s OIP helps free 29th defendant

Media Coverage Generated by Smith's Case:

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Featured image at top: Christopher Smith celebrates his release from the Hamilton County Justice Center on April 14, 2020, from a safe social distance with attorney Michele Berry Godsey, a UC College of Law alumnus and former OIP participant. Smith served 12 years in prison for an armed robbery that DNA evidence later implicated a different perpetrator. Photo/provided/Mark Godsey