Having spent over 45 years in jail, a black man from Ohio has been vindicated of the death of his wife. Isaiah Andrews, 83, had been charged with aggravated murder before a jury acquitted him earlier this week. “I am now free,” Isaiah told reporters after his not guilty verdict.
Several years after Regina Andrews’ death, Andrews was found dead and wrapped in hotel linens near Forest Hill Park. Andrews was charged with murder. It is believed that she was sexually assaulted and stabbed to death.
It was initially believed that Willie Watts was responsible for Regina’s death, a man whose bed sheets were missing from his Howard Johnson hotel room. The police did not question Watts again when they thought Regina was killed since he had an alibi.
Lawyers from the Ohio Innocence Project have found, however, that Regina’s death time was altered by the coroner, which weakens Watts’ alibi. Watts was never re-interviewed by the police at the time and Isaiah’s defense team was never made aware of this. This left him as the sole suspect in his wife’s death.
In the years that followed Isaiah’s conviction, Watts was charged with a number of crimes against women and died in 2011. It was only three weeks before Regina passed away that she and Isaiah had been married. A physical link between them could not be established.
The Ohio Innocence Project raised the issue with Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney Michael O’Malley last year after learning about the coroner’s findings. Isaiah’s attorneys hoped that O’Malley would dismiss the charges against him. However, he offered Isaiah a chance to avoid prison in exchange for his guilty plea to the murder of his wife. He declined, stating that he wanted justice for his wife.
CBS reports that the new trial for Isaiah was mostly based on listening to transcripts, since the original investigators have died. On Wednesday (Oct. 27), the jury deliberated for slightly more than 90 minutes before reaching a not guilty verdict.
In a statement, attorney Marcus Sidoti said Isaiah Andrews has been fighting for justice and freedom for more than four decades. Today, a jury found him not guilty. Isaiah Andrews has been vindicated. The decades Isaiah spent in jail will never be reclaimed, but he will live out the rest of his life as a free man.”
Isaiah was incarcerated for 45 years by the Ohio Innocence Project, which identifies it as the second-longest wrongful imprisonment in U.S. history.