On Monday, September 12, six months after David Ayers was granted a new trial, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office dismissed all charges against him. Ayers had spent over a decade in jail for a murder he did not commit.
Ayers was convicted of the Dec. 17, 1999 murder of 76-year-old Dorothy Brown and was sentenced to life. Ayers lived in the victim’s building and was working as a security guard on the premises when the murder took place.
He claimed his innocence from the outset, but prosecutors focused solely on him as a suspect. As is common in so many wrongful convictions, just before Ayers’ trial began, a jailhouse informant came forward. Donald Hutchinson, a career petty criminal, told prosecutors that Ayers confessed to him in jail. Despite a lengthy history of lying, Hutchinson was allowed to testify at Ayers trial.
The Ohio Innocence Project and the Cuyahoga County Public Defender’s office fought for years for DNA testing in Ayers’ case. While finally awaiting test results, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Ayers’ murder conviction on the basis that his constitutional rights were violated by allowing Hutchinson to testify at Ayers’ trial. While Ayers remained in jail awaiting his re-trial, DNA results came back that demonstrated his innocence. Specifically, pubic hairs found in the victim’s mouth and dentures did not match either her or Ayers. Based on those results, prosecutors decided not to re-try Ayers.
A video of Ayers’ emotional release can be viewed here.