Man Wrongfully Imprisoned Receives $45 Million from the State of Ohio

A gavel on a stack of $100 bills on a table

A gavel on a stack of $100 bills on a tableBy Jack Sandmeyer 

CINCINNATI, OH – A jury in the state of Ohio awarded $45 million to Dean Gillispie this past week for his wrongful conviction in February of 1991, reflecting his 20 years of unjust imprisonment—it was the largest figure ever granted in state history.

Before being exonerated, Gillispie was serving 22 to 56 years in prison for rape, kidnapping and aggravated robbery, crimes allegedly committed in 1988 in Harrison and Miami townships.

According to Maurice Possley of The National Registry of Exonerations, “In October 1990, Gillispie was indicted by a Montgomery County grand jury on nine counts of rape, three counts of kidnapping, three counts of aggravated robbery, and three counts of gross sexual imposition.”

Before he was sentenced in this initial trial, the crime laboratory reported  hairs of the perpetrator which were recovered by the victim’s body did not match those of Gillispie. 

“In June 1991,” Possley continues, “Gillispie went to trial a second time.” Then, “…on June 12, 1991, after lengthy deliberations, [the jury] convicted him of all counts.”

Following fervent dedication by Gillispie and his family to have his case retried, the U.S. District Court granted Gillispie a new trial in December of 2011. 

According to Deborah Rieselman of University of Cincinnati Magazine, “On Dec. 16, 2011, U.S. District Magistrate Judge Michael Merz ruled that Gillispie didn’t get a fair trial in 1991.” 

Rieselman continues, “Merz’s ruling stated that information withheld from the jury in 1991 ‘could reasonably be taken to put the whole case in such a different light as to undermine confidence in the verdict.’” 

Combined with efforts from the Ohio Innocence Project (OIP), Gillispie was released from prison on bail in December of 2011 after the prosecution stated that it would appeal the original ruling.

Gillespie filed a civil rights lawsuit regarding his wrongful imprisonment from 1991 to 2011. The suit—which spanned 20 years—was pending in the U.S. District Court until 2021.

On December 9, 2021, the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas declared Gillispie to have been a wrongfully imprisoned person. This admission granted Gillispie the right to file for reparations from the State of Ohio.

The Twitter account “Loevy & Loevy,” which announced Gillispie’s compensation, maintains, “[They] seek justice for those whose civil rights have been violated and for whistleblowers who expose corruption.”

In their comments of their original post, Loevy & Loevy elaborated on the positive impact that the trials had on Gillespie’s life. 

“Gillispie turned to creating art to keep himself calm amidst the pain, death and grief he witnessed in prison. His works dealt with the grief of maintaining innocence in a system that didn’t believe him & imagined what he might do if he weren’t incarcerated.”

About The Author

Jack is a sophomore at UC Davis majoring in Economics. Following his 4 years at Davis, he hopes to pursue a career in law with an emphasis on environmental sustainability. He plans on attending law school in southern California after he graduates.

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