Man Suing State After Spending Years On Death Row
Thursday February 16, 2012 6:32 PM
UPDATED: Thursday February 16, 2012 6:54 PM
GROVE CITY, Ohio - A man spoke out on Thursday about his latest attempt to clear his name with the state.
Dale Johnston was convicted of killing his step-daughter and her fiancé in Hocking County in the 1980s before being freed from death row in the 1990s, 10TV’s Kevin Landers reported.
Johnston, 78, of Grove City, unsuccessfully sued the state for wrongful imprisonment, and each time, the court rejected his plea.
“Somebody else killed my daughter, and I got blamed for it, and I want that rectified,” Johnston said.
The dismembered bodies of Annette Cooper and Todd Schultz were found in the Hocking River and a nearby cornfield in 1982.
Johnston was convicted of the double-slaying, but was released following an appeal after having spent five years on death row.
“This is what happens when the system can be abused,” Johnston said.
The case was dropped after it came to light that witness statements that could have helped prove Johnston’s innocence were hidden during the trial, Landers reported.
Chester McKnight pleaded guilty to the slayings in 2008.
Johnston said that he wanted to be compensated in addition to clearing his name.
“I’m just trying to get my name cleared, and that has never been done,” Johnston said.
The state said that Johnston did not qualify for the appeal because he did not meet all five criteria, which include the provision that a person cannot have a criminal act tied to a conviction.
In Johnston’s case, the state said that he admitted to sexual contact with his step-daughter, but Johnston denied the allegation, Landers reported.
Courts said that they agreed there was not enough evidence to convict Johnston but they also questioned his innocence.
Johnston said that he told police during the search for his daughter and her fiancé that he had a vision of water and trees where the bodies would be found.
“I was trying to help them as much as I could to find those kids,” Johnston said.
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