An Ohio judge has granted a former Ohio death row inmate the right to sue the state for up to $1 million. Joe D’Ambrosio spent over 20 years on death row for a conviction that was later overturned.
D’Ambrosio was convicted for the 1988 attempted murder of Tony Klann. At the time he was only 26. D’Ambrosio was later convicted of the crime and sentenced to death. He spent over 20 years on death row. D’Ambrosio never stopped speaking out about his innocence.
The case caught the attention of a priest visiting another inmate. Although Father Neil Kookoothe was not actively counseling D’Ambrosio, another inmate suggested that it was imperative that he do so.
Father Kookoothe spoke with D’Ambrosio, who insisted that he was innocent. The priest was intrigued enough with his story to review his case. He read the entire file in one night, as reported by cleveland.com.
The priest was convinced that D’Ambrosio has been wrongly convicted. Kookoothe, along with several attorneys were able to sift through the file and piece together an appeal.
A federal judge overturned the conviction in 2006, citing evidence that was withheld by prosecutors. D’Ambrosio was released from prison in 2009.
As reported by theCleveland Plain Dealer, prosecutors have never offered an apology and they contend that he is is guilty:
“They still insist he is guilty and believe they could have proved it at another trial. Rick Bell, criminal investigations chief for the prosecutor’s office, insists that D’Ambrosio was not exonerated. ‘To use the word exonerated is a misrepresentation,’ he said Tuesday. ‘He has not been found innocent.'”
Joe D’Ambrosio has not received any compensation from the state for the 20 years of his life that he lost. He lacks steady employment, working odd jobs as a subcontractor. He has no pension or retirement savings. He and his attorney hope that the suit, which will be filed in the Ohio Court of Claims, will help compensate him for everything he has lost.
D’Ambrosio is eligible for up to $1 million in compensation for the 20 years he spent on death row for a wrongful conviction.