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Man walks free from death row after witness admits lying

TEARFUL: Ricky Jackson in court

A MAN who spent nearly four decades on death row for a crime he didn’t commit will be released today.

Ricky Jackson from Cleveland, US, will once again be a free man after a key witness admitted to lying as a child.

The 57-year-old was jailed alongside two other men for the murder of Harold Franks in 1975 based on the testimony of Eddie Vernon, then a 12-year-old boy.

Vernon, now 53, confessed to falsifying his account and that he was not even present during the time of the killing.

He told Judge Richard McMonagle that his story had been based on false details provided to him by a friend and members of the police.

There was no other evidence linking Jackson to the murder.

The legal group to the Ohio Innocence Project confirmed that the time Jackson served (39 years) makes him the longest-held US prisoner to be cleared.

During his incarceration, Jackson narrowly escaped execution after the state of Ohio temporarily abolished the death penalty in the 1970s.

He came within just 20 days of losing his life.

Eyewitnesses reported Jackson wept hysterically in court as the charges against him were dropped.

Brothers Wiley and Ronnie Bridgeman, who were also accused, have since filed for a retrial however their petitions are yet to be resolved.

Ronnie Bridgeman was released in 2003, while Wiley remains in prison.

Fact Box: Capital Punishment

- Capital punishment is legal in 32 states of 50 states

- Texas has performed the most executions with 1,273 only nine of whom have been female

- The first recorded death sentence was carried out in 1608 on Captain George Kendall

- The state of Oklahoma has the highest per capita execution rate

Other wrongful death row cases:

Anthony Porter, a mentally ill Chicago man, was a prisoner on death row after being convicted of the murder of two teenagers in 1983. His conviction was overturned in 1999 due to the investigation of two Northwestern University School of Law professors and students from the Medill School of Journalism as part of the Medill Innocence Project.

Henry McCollum, North Carolina’s longest-serving death row inmate, and his half-brother Leon Brown, were released this year after more than 30 years in prison after DNA tests proved their innocence of rape and murder.

Anthony Charles Graves was convicted of the 1992 mass murder of six people in Somerville, Texas, after being implicated in the crime by Robert Carter - the father of one of the victims. He was released in 2010 after 18 years in prison - 16 in solitary confinement.
Carter was executed in May 2000 for his role in the crime and in his final statement before being executed admitted that he had lied.

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