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Kent Appleman

Other Ohio Exonerations
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At about 2:30 a.m. on December 23, 1991, 33-year-old Randall Dozer, the night clerk at a Starfire gas station in Zanesville, Ohio, said a customer came to the counter and asked for cigarettes. The customer then pulled a handgun and demanded money. Dozer told police he had handed over $80 and the robber fled.

The following night, Dozer was visiting a friend who worked at a different Starfire station when the man who robbed him came to the station. Dozer hid in the bathroom until the man left and called police.

The man was not arrested, and Dozer went to the police station to look at police mug shot books. Ultimately, he selected the photograph of 21-year-old Kent Appleman as the robber.

On January 2, 1992, Appleman was arrested and charged with armed robbery. On March 5, 1992, Appleman went to trial in Muskingum County Court of Common Pleas.

The trial lasted one day. After Dozer identified him as the robber, the jury convicted Appleman of armed robbery. He was sentenced to 10 to 25 years in prison.

Appleman was released on shock probation on April 7, 1995.

Three weeks later, on April 30, 1995, the Zanesville Times Recorder newspaper published an article quoting several people who had been in drug rehabilitation therapy with Dozer in 1992.

The witnesses said that Dozer admitted that while working at the gas station, he developed a cocaine habit and falsely reported robberies to cover up his theft of money to buy cocaine. He admitted, according to the witnesses, that he had falsely accused Appleman.

Following a re-investigation by police and the Muskingum County Prosecutor’s Office, a Muskingum County grand jury heard testimony from the witnesses in December 1995. The grand jury indicted Dozer on charges of perjury and theft.

In April 1996, the prosecution and Appleman’s defense lawyer filed a joint motion to vacate Appleman’s conviction. On April 19, 1996, Judge Richard Hixon granted the motion and dismissed the charge. The judge also declared Appleman to be a wrongly convicted defendant, clearing the way for Appleman to seek compensation from the state of Ohio.

“Based on the evidence and upon the concurrence from the State of Ohio, this Court further determines that the defendant was not guilty of the offense of robbery, that the defendant did not commit the offense and that the defendant qualifies as a wrongfully imprisoned individual,” Judge Hixon ruled.

Appleman, who subsequently changed his name to Kent Hammer, filed a lawsuit seeking compensation. In 1997, he was awarded $130,384.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 12/10/2018
State:Ohio
County:Muskingum
Most Serious Crime:Robbery
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1991
Convicted:1992
Exonerated:1996
Sentence:10 to 25 years
Race:White
Sex:Male
Age at the date of reported crime:21
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No