A black man finally got his life back after serving 21 years in prison for a crime that may have never occurred.
Ralph Blaine Smith reacted Wednesday after his ankle monitor was removed by a probation officer in response to a decision by current Fairfield County Prosecutor Kyle Witt to drop all charges against Smith rather than pursue a second trial.
“There are no words to describe how happy I am, I finally got this nightmare over with. I got my life back.” said Smith.
According to The Columbus Dispatch, Smith, had spent 21 years of a 67-year sentence behind bars when Fairfield County Common Pleas Judge Richard E. Berens in June granted him a new trial. The judge ruled that prosecutors at the time had withheld evidence suggesting that a Lancaster home-invasion robbery he was convicted of committing may not have happened at all.
He was released from prison on bond on July 2 and has been living with family in Columbus, but had been required to wear the ankle monitor, report weekly to a probation officer in Fairfield County and take random drug tests while current county prosecutors contemplated the next step.
Smith was accused of being one of two Black males who allegedly forced their way into a Lancaster home at gunpoint on Feb. 2, 2000. At the time the home was occupied by a man and a woman and their young children. The intruders allegedly forced one of the adults to open a safe, from which they stole rare comic books and approximately $10,000 in cash.
Late Tuesday afternoon, Witt filed the dismissal of all charges in the case “without prejudice,” which means his office reserves the right to file them again in the future.
“The chances of that happening are very, very unlikely,” Witt said Wednesday. “Twenty years have passed already… We put that language in there because we can’t predict the future, but I don’t see (the refiling of charges) happening.”
“If we were to retry this case now, even if we got a conviction, I do not think we would be seeking a sentence in excess of time already served,” he said. “I don’t think that’s a prudent use of our taxpayer resources, the time and talents of our staff, to relitigate a case where he’s already served a sentence of this length.”
Landusky said he and his client are “considering our options” in regards to seeking compensation for the 21 years in prison. Typically compesation from the state is reserved for those who have been proven innocent after a prison stay — not a dismissal of charges.
“I’m just so happy to get my freedom. I’m not thinking about money,” Smith said.
Smith instead is more focused on reconnecting with his family, including his son, who was born shortly before his conviction as well as several nephews and nieces born during his time behind bars. He says most important of all is his mother, who he was living with at the time of his arrest.
“I wanted her to be alive to see me as a free man, the end result of all the hard fighting through appeals and the years of her being by my side 100%,” he said. “I’m very happy for that. She’s still in shock at me being out and seeing me.”
Congratulations to him on his freedom — this is why having a good defense attorney is so important.
Smith’s attorney was able to argue to get him a new trial after focusing on evidence that suggested the crime might have been staged. Part of the evidence the county prosecutors also failed to provide to Smith’s defense, was a narrative supplement written by one of the first police officers to arrive at the home after the reported robbery, which contained “numerous observations expressing skepticism about whether a crime had occurred.” The police officer also wondered how multiple men could have conducted an armed home invasion and fled the Lancaster house without leaving tracks in the snow that covered the area!
Meanwhile the prosecutor on the story is continuing to say publicly that he’s inclined to believe the testimony of the two people who lived at the home, who have continued to stick to their identification of Smith as the perpetrator.
SMH. Listen it wouldn’t be the first time someone lied and tried to pin a fake crime on a black man.
What are you “inclined” to believe?