On November 11, 1981, a 15-year-old girl waiting to be picked up by her mother in the Westwood neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio, was dragged into a vacant lot, raped, robbed of $1 and shot in the back of the neck.
The victim survived the attack and on December 15, 1981, she happened to notice Randall Lynn Ayers, a 17-year-old senior and aspiring Marine, standing with friends at Western Hills High School. She identified Ayers as her assailant and he was arrested.
At his trial, the victim identified Ayers. Witnesses for Ayers testified that he was with them smoking marijuana and drinking beer in an abandoned car at the time of the assault.
On March 29, 1981, a Hamilton County jury convicted Ayers of rape, aggravated robbery and attempted aggravated murder. He was sentenced to 14 to 50 years in prison.
In 1990, an accused serial murderer and rapist, Robert Minton, 29, of Cincinnati, confessed to being the true assailant and told police details about the crime that had never been made public.
As part of the investigation of Minton's admission, prosecutors brought the victim to the Hamilton County Justice Center so that she could view Ayers and Minton standing side by side. She could not say which of the two men attacked her.
On July 20, 1990, Ayers was released from prison after prosecutors dismissed the charges because of Minton's confession.
In December, 1990, the Ohio Court of Claims awarded Ayers $365,000 in compensation for his wrongful conviction and incarceration.
– Maurice Possley
The National Registry of Exonerations is a project of the Newkirk Center for Science & Society at University of California Irvine, the University of Michigan Law School and Michigan State University College of Law. It was founded in 2012 in conjunction with the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law. The Registry provides detailed information about every known exoneration in the United States since 1989—cases in which a person was wrongly convicted of a crime and later cleared of all the charges based on new evidence of innocence. The Registry also maintains a more limited database of known exonerations prior to 1989.
We welcome new information from any source about exonerations already on our list and about cases not in the Registry that might be exonerations.