Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Cincinnati Law's Ohio Innocence Project, run by CrimProf Blogger Mark Godsey, has won its second exoneration in just over one month. On Monday, Chris Bennett's guilty plea for aggravated vehicular homicide was overturned in an unanimous panel decision by the Fifth Ohio Appellate District. The OIP presented new DNA evidence (hair and blood samples from the passenger-side of the wrecked van) expert accident reconstruction testimony and psychiatric testimony, that: 1) Bennett was the passenger, rather than the driver, in the fatal 2001 accident; and 2) he only entered a guilty plea after suffering from psychiatric amnesia caused by severe head injuries he sustained in the accident and marked by memory loss. Despite the Appellate Court's decision exonerating Bennett, he is still in prison and may be retried if the prosecution declines to drop all charges. Coverage of the exoneration can be found in the Canton Repository, the Akron Beacon Journal, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and the Cincinnati Enquirer.