CLEVELAND -- A new trial has begun for an 83-year-old Ohio man who spent 45 years in prison in the death of his wife.
Cleveland.com reports that jurors in the Cuyahoga County retrial of Isiah Andrews learned in opening statements Friday something the jury that convicted Andrews in 1975 never knew -- that police had initially arrested another man in the killing of Regina Andrews.
Andrews was released last year after another judge reversed his conviction, citing prosecutors' failure to disclose information about the other suspect.
The other man had an alibi for the time the slaying was believed to have been committed, but an autopsy later concluded the crime had occurred at a different time. That man died in 2011.
“They let the murderer go because they messed up on the time of death,” defense attorney Marcus Sidoti told jurors.
Assistant Prosecutor Kristen Karkutt said detectives in 1974 and an FBI agent who has reviewed the case in recent years have ruled out the other man as a suspect.
Defense attorneys also cite a lack of physical evidence linking Andrews to his wife’s slaying and argue that he was convicted largely on the testimony of two women whose stories changed over time.
Karkutt acknowledged that prosecutors no longer have physical evidence from the case but said the suspicious behavior described by the witnesses would be sufficient for conviction.
The Ohio Innocence Project took up Andrews’ case in 2015. The new trial will include testimony from two witnesses who are still alive, but prosecutors will read to the jury transcripts from the 1975 proceedings because of the deaths of other witnesses and detectives.
Prosecutors sought a gag order following statements by the defense and Andrews to reporters, and the judge granted the request. But he rejected prosecutors' request that the jury pool be dismissed and the trial restarted because of defense comments that Andrews is innocent and retrying him was “gross and disgusting."