After 21 years of incarceration for a crime he didn’t commit, Ralph Smith, 49, was awarded $1.3 million for his wrongful imprisonment, according to a story in the Complex. Smith was falsely convicted of an armed robbery in Ohio in 2000 for which he was sentenced to 67 years in prison.
Prosecutors alleged that Smith, who is Black, and another Black man broke into a dwelling that was occupied by a family and ordered the parents to open a safe. The alleged victims claimed Smith and his accomplice stole rare comic books, jewelry and approximately $10,000 in cash.
The two parents pointed out Smith in a lineup of pictures. However, there was no other evidence to suggest that Smith had committed the alleged act. Regardless, Smith was convicted of multiple felonies including aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, and kidnapping.
After 20 years of maintaining his innocence and pursuing legal recourse, Smith contacted defense attorney Joseph Landusky, who agreed to help.
“When I read about his case and started getting into it, I really believed that a crime didn’t even happen in this case,” Landusky said according to reporting by WBNS-TV.
On Smith’s behalf, Landusky filed a motion for a new trial that highlighted exculpatory evidence such as a handwritten police report that contained “numerous observations expressing skepticism about whether a crime had occurred,” reported the Columbus Dispatch.
Landusky stated Smith was “sentenced to 67 years in prison for a crime that was not even committed by anyone. When first responders showed up, there were no footprints in the snow.”
In response to the motion, Fairfield County Prosecutor Kyle Witt did not seek a new trial and rather decided to drop all charges against Smith in 2021. This cleared the way for Smith to file a wrongful imprisonment lawsuit, which resulted in the $1.3 million settlement reward from the state of Ohio.
Smith said he was looking forward to supporting his family and rewarding his legal team with the payout.