CLEVELAND, Ohio — A choose this week granted a brand new trial to a person imprisoned since 1975 in his spouse’s homicide, a killing he has maintained he didn’t commit.
Cuyahoga County Frequent Pleas Court docket Choose Robert McClelland ordered that Isiah Andrews, 82, deserves a brand new trial as a result of prosecutors failed to offer his attorneys a police report that recognized a distinct suspect within the Sept. 19, 1974 slaying of Regina Andrews on the Colonial Home Motel on Euclid Avenue.
Andrews, who’s represented by the Cincinnati-based Ohio Innocence Challenge, is being housed at Richland Correctional Establishment, the place two employees members have examined optimistic for the coronavirus within the final week, in keeping with the ODRC. No inmates have examined optimistic.
Brian Howe, an lawyer with the Innocence Challenge, filed an emergency movement for a bond listening to to get Andrews out of Richland facility whereas he awaits his new trial. Howe argued that Andrews ought to be launched on his personal recognizance as a result of he poses no hazard to the group, and exposing him at his age to the Cuyahoga County Jail, the place dozens of inmates have examined optimistic, would “do nothing apart from improve the probability that Mr. Andrews turns into contaminated earlier than getting the chance for a good trial.”
McClelland granted the trial after discovering Cleveland police report that detailed proof that pointed to a different man, William Watts, was by no means offered on the unique trial.
Detectives in the end moved off of Watts as a suspect and onto Andrews, however McClelland held that Andrews’ attorneys had been denied the possibility to make use of the truth that one other man was suspected of the crime as a protection.
“[T]he court docket finds that this extra info, not accessible to the protection on the time of the trial, might by its web impact, undermine the boldness within the end result of the trial,” McClelland wrote.
Isiah Andrews, a salesman and Marine Corps veteran, married Regina Andrews 24 days earlier than her demise. The 2 rented an effectivity room on the Colonial Home Motel on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland as they looked for a everlasting place to reside.
Isiah Andrews instructed police that he left the lodge at about eight a.m. Sept. 18, 1974, to run some errands, together with promoting wholesale fish. His spouse was gone when he returned that night. He known as her mom over to the lodge room and, when Regina Andrews nonetheless had not returned residence by 10 p.m., they known as police and reported her lacking.
A passerby discovered her physique the subsequent day in close by Forest Hills Park. She was stabbed seven occasions within the neck and 4 occasions within the abdomen, and her nightgown had been pushed up round her neck. She wasn’t sporting underwear, and her physique was wrapped in bedding with tags from a number of space resorts, together with two pillowcases from the Howard Johnson Motor Inn in College Circle. Close by, police discovered a number of bloody copies of The Plain Seller that featured a front-page story a couple of prostitution crackdown, in keeping with court docket information.
Investigators decided that the cuts to her abdomen got here whereas her nightgown was pushed up, as a result of there weren’t corresponding cuts or puncture holes within the nightgown, information mentioned. Investigators discovered sperm however didn’t have DNA testing on the time.
Police searched the lodge room and Isiah Andrews’ automobile and located no proof to tie him to the crime, information mentioned.
A lodge worker, Betty Worthy, initially instructed police that she noticed Andrews go away about 11 a.m. with a big bag, and return sporting the identical brown go well with he had left in. Worthy, mentioned for the primary time that she appeared into the Andrews’ room whereas Isiah Andrews was leaving and seen an empty mattress with the sheets stripped, court docket information mentioned. She mentioned on the stand that she had not instructed police every little thing and determined to reveal that element after a protection investigator requested her earlier than trial if she was concerned in prostitution, Andrews’ attorneys mentioned in his software.
A girl who lived within the room subsequent to the Andrews’ room, Linda Cloud, initially instructed police that the couple argued “identical to all people else” and she or he by no means heard him yelling or screaming at her, in keeping with court docket information. She additionally mentioned she noticed a “light-skinned” man go into the lodge room about 9 p.m. the night time earlier than, information say.
Cloud testified at trial that she heard Andrews say to his spouse, “b—h, you already know I’m going to kill you,” throughout an argument the night time earlier than the killing, a revelation she didn’t initially inform police, information say.
Prosecutors offered the speculation at trial that Isiah Andrews killed his spouse throughout an argument over cash and her reluctance to affix the Muslim religion, of which Isiah Andrews was a member. Then he used his navy background to tidy up the crime scene and get rid of her physique.
Protection attorneys introduced up the chance that the actual killer had additionally sexually assaulted Regina Andrews, pointing to the abdomen wounds and the presence of sperm. Ohio regulation on the time didn’t think about the sexual assault of a partner against the law, so prosecutors didn’t pursue rape or any associated prices towards Isiah Andrews.
Police report emerges throughout DNA combat
The Ohio Innocence Challenge grew to become concerned within the case in 2015 and filed a number of public information requests with the Metropolis of Cleveland for police stories and different paperwork from the case. Their preliminary quest was to get the sperm examined for DNA. The Metropolis of Cleveland by no means fulfilled that request, however the attorneys obtained the stories figuring out a distinct suspect when the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Workplace and the prosecutor’s workplace handed over full copies of their case information of the case.
The stories confirmed that police had initially arrested William Watts after studying that he rented a room within the Howard Johnson lodge the night time earlier than the killing, and witnesses mentioned he had stripped his bedsheets, the report mentioned. Forest Hills Park, the place Regina Andrews’ physique was discovered, was lower than 1 / 4 of a mile from Watts’ mom’s home, which he had damaged into the day of the killing, in keeping with the report.
“It’s our opinion that this crime was dedicated by Willie H. Watts, who is seemingly making an attempt to promote his moms [sic] coat and her different valuables to get cash to get away from this metropolis,” the report mentioned.
Police arrested Watts, however let him go after he was in a position to current an alibi for the time that police believed Regina Andrews was killed, between 2 a.m. and 5 a..m, in keeping with court docket information.
Investigators moved onto Isiah Andrews and didn’t return to Watts, even after the coroner modified Andrews’ suspected time of demise to between 9 a.m. and midday, which was outdoors of the time of Watts’ alibi, in keeping with court docket filings.
Watts was convicted of threatening or attacking ladies with knives a number of occasions between 1975 and 1983, in keeping with court docket information. He died of pure causes in 2011, in keeping with court docket information.
The Innocence Challenge filed a movement for a brand new trial earlier this yr citing the withheld proof.
Prosecutors argued that there was no proof that Watts and Regina Andrews had ever met, and due to this fact police initially suspecting him was irrelevant.
McClelland famous in his ruling that prosecutors raised “a number of good arguments” that the preliminary identification of Watts as a suspect was in the end irrelevant, partially as a result of there was no proof that Watts and Regina Andrews had ever met. The choose additionally identified, nonetheless, that police by no means tried to determine if the “light-skinned man” that Worthy mentioned she noticed speaking to Regina Andrews the night earlier than her demise might have been Watts.
The choose discovered no proof that prosecutors in 1975 acted in unhealthy religion in not handing over the stories.
“Regardless, the knowledge was not within the palms of the protection crew to make their very own choice of whether or not it might present a protection for his or her shopper,” he wrote.
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