WCPO-TV/Channel 9: Ohio Innocence Project at UC takes on possible wrongful conviction case

Cleveland man freed after more than 14 years in prison

Michael Sutton has been incarcerated for nearly 15 years for a crime he may not have committed and a law team lead by an associate professor from the UC College of Law has helped to secure him a new trial.

The Cleveland man was released by a Cuyahoga County judge on Monday, May 3, and is waiting on a new trial, after new information came to light about his case.

Donald Caster, left, with the UC College of Law and Michael Sutton

Donald Caster, left, with the UC College of Law and Michael Sutton/Photo/Mark Godsey

In a story on the case broadcast by WCPO-TV, Channel 9, Donald Caster of UC's Ohio Innocence Project, described it as a huge step forward in the case. 

In 2006, Sutton and his friend, Kenny Phillips were arrested, and eventually convicted, on multiple charges, including attempted murder of a police officer. Sutton was sentenced to more than 40 years in prison.

His conviction rested on testimony from two police officers on the scene. Years later, this testimony has been called into question after lawyers discovered the officers initially told prosecutors a different version of events that was never presented during trial.

"They knew that those two officers, at the time of the shooting, weren't where they said they were and couldn't have seen where the shots came from, even though they said at trial that they did," said Caster.

The new information led the Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals to set aside the conviction of Sutton and Phillips, determining that prosecutors violated the men's right to a fair trial. On May 3, the judge released them both until their new trial begins.

"If there's anything that I can say that I've accomplished in my professional life, it will be that I was able to help bring Michael home to his mom in time for Mother's Day this year," said Caster.

See coverage of the story by WLWT-TV, Channel 5 here and see coverage from WXIX-TV, Fox19 here

Read more about the case here.

Lead image WCPO-TV/Channel 9 

Your Next is Now. It Starts Here.

As one of the nation’s smallest urban law schools, we will help you follow your path to fulfill your passion. Our students shine brightest when they are fighting for the disenfranchised, elevating local entrepreneurs, combating economic inequalities, and defending human rights. No matter what path you choose, we’ll make it possible. Learn more today.