A state administrative panel on Monday approved paying $1.5 million to be split between three East Cleveland men who spent nearly two decades in prison for a murder they didn’t commit.
The state Board of Control authorized the payments, transferred from a state emergency fund, for Eugene Johnson, Laurese Glover, and Derrick Wheatt. Johnson will receive $489,604.67 while Glover and Wheatt will split the rest.
Under state law, the three men are each entitled to receive about $55,000 for each year they wrongfully spent in prison. But state law requires only half of the amount to be paid within 60 days, which means the other half will be coming in the future.
Glover and Wheatt also are pursuing lost wages, attorneys fees and other costs from the state, while Johnson’s attorneys have reached an $875,000 settlement with the state, which includes the payment approved on Monday.
The three men, now in their early 40s, spent 19 years in prison after they were convicted as teenagers of the 1995 shooting death of Clifton Hudson Jr., cleveland.com previously has reported. The Ohio Innocence Project took up their case, and a judge overturned their convictions and released them from prison in 2015 based on new evidence and her finding that a former Cuyahoga County prosecutor “maliciously inserted himself into a criminal proceeding.”
The state wrongful-conviction payments are separate from lawsuits the three men are pursuing against the police and prosecutors who investigated and convicted them.
A federal jury in November ordered East Cleveland to pay the three men $5 million each after deciding the city’s police violated Johnson, Glover and Wheatt’s civil rights, while the trio reached a $4.5 million settlement with Cuyahoga County earlier in 2018.
The men argued that detectives withheld a police report of witness statements favorable to them and coerced a then-14-year-old witness into implicating the trio in the murder.
The trio’s lawsuits also said two former prosecutors, Carmen Marino and Deborah Naiman, told East Cleveland police in 1998 to not release records relating to Hudson’s death to the defendants, who by that point had been convicted, and instead told the department to send copies of the records to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, cleveland.com previously has reported.