by Deborah Rieselman
Twenty years behind bars is an agonizingly long time. Especially if you are serving a life sentence for a murder you did not commit — one that you had no knowledge of until you were arrested.
Surely, the United States’ court system would not lock away a suspect without a single shred of physical evidence, Dewey Jones hopefully thought from his arrest in 1993 to his hearing in 1995. But he was wrong. The state’s star witness, a “jailhouse snitch,” seemed to be all the court needed to seal Jones’ fate.
Despite the seemingly impossible odds of ever being released, Jones maintained his hopefulness that justice would be served one day. And earlier this year, his positive thinking was rewarded. Thanks to the efforts of the Ohio Innocence Project (OIP), housed at the University of Cincinnati, Jones left the Summit County Courthouse in Akron, Ohio, as a free man.
“I knew [this day] would come,” Jones told the Akron ABC channel, NewsNet 5. “I just never thought it would take this long. The truth is the truth, and it always comes out.”
In 1993, police had found 71-year-old Neal Rankin dead in his house — shot twice in the head at close range. Investigators grew suspicious when they “found no signs of forced entry,” court documents noted. “So the investigation focused on Mr. Rankin’s circle of younger acquaintances.”