Cleveland man will be released after 23 years in prison for murder he didn’t commit
A Cleveland, Ohio man who thought he’d be spending the rest of his life in prison will soon know freedom again.
Evin King, 59, was convicted of killing his girlfriend, Crystal Hudson, in 1994 and sentenced to life in prison with eligibility for parole after 15 years. But with advances in DNA testing confirming his innocence, King is set to be released Wednesday.
Hudson was found strangled and beaten in a closet in her apartment. At the time of King’s conviction, the DNA samples gathered as evidence couldn’t be tested. After the Ohio branch of the Innocence Project took up King’s case, the organization successfully motioned for new DNA testing in 2008. Forensics later revealed that while the samples gathered from semen found in Hudson’s body and in skin cells underneath her fingernails matched, they didn’t come from King. He began filing for his freedom in 2010.
“After learning of the current analysis of the evidence, I believe that it is my duty to vacate Evin King’s conviction,” Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley said in a statement. His office filed a motion to vacate King’s conviction Tuesday, which was granted Wednesday morning, the bailiff for Judge Brian Corrigan, who oversaw the motion, told VICE News. Provided there are no other holds, King will be released Wednesday.
King learned of the motion to vacate his charges from a phone call with the Innocence Project, according to Cleveland.com, which released a video of the emotional phone call.
“I knew this day would come one day, and I knew I would cry,” King said in the video.
King’s case is one of 350 national exonerations based on DNA evidence, according to the Innocence Project. Yet the promise of more accurate forensic science in the criminal justice system remains unclear after Attorney General Jeff Sessions scrapped the National Commission on Forensic Science — a coalition of independent lawyers, criminal justice experts, law enforcement, and forensic scientists — just last week. Sessions has yet to declare an alternative.
The commission, founded during the Obama Administration in 2013, set out to improve the standards of forensic testing as well as facilitate cooperation between science and law enforcement. Occurring in 46% of DNA exoneration cases, the improper use of forensic science is the second most common reason for wrongful convictions, according to the Innocence Project.
The longest wrongful incarceration case also came out of Ohio. Ricky Jackson, convicted of shooting a man during a robbery in 1975, spent over 39 years in prison before being exonerated.