Jose writes, "A 12 year old child was forced by the police to give false testimony against three black teens in 1975; the last two men have just been released from prison. I was moved to tears by both the terrible injustice and the way one of these men, Ricky Jackson, spoke out without any sign of hatred."
"He seems to be a very nice person. There is a page where one can donate to help him start his new life (I just did…)"
Jackson spent more time behind bars than any other exonerated inmate in US history: 39 years. His brother, also exonerated, served 27 years.
There was no evidence linking the three men to the crime. Vernon said that once he told authorities the names of the three and the fact that he saw the slaying, Cleveland police fed him information about the crime and what happened. In 2011, Scene Magazine examined the case and Vernon's testimony.
Vernon came forward after he spoke with his pastor, the Rev. Anthony Singleton of the Emmanuel Christian Center, last year. But his conscience apparently bothered him for years.
In the early 2000s, Wiley Bridgeman was released on parole for the killing. In a chance meeting just months after leaving prison, he ran into Vernon. The two talked, and Vernon testified this week that he asked for Bridgeman's forgiveness.
Someone saw the two men together and told Vernon that he must report the meeting to Bridgeman's parole officer, as Bridgeman was told he could not meet with any witnesses in the case. Bridgeman was soon sent back to prison for a parole violation.
Ricky Jackson and Wiley Bridgeman: Exonerated friends leave prison after 39 years behind bars [John Caniglia/Plain Dealer]
(Image: John Kuntz/Plain Dealer)