In 1973, Thomas Broady of Columbus, Ohio, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 10 to 25 years in prison, as a result of evidence suppressed by former Columbus Detective Tom Jones and the refusal of a Franklin County Common Pleas judge to let alibi witnesses testify at Broady’s trial.
According to Broady’s attorney, Broady was suspected by police of taking part in a string of eight robberies in Columbus in the early 1970’s. During one of the robberies, John Georgeff, owner of Georgeff’s Grill, was shot and killed. Detective Jones, who was in charge of the murder investigation, declared that the eight robberies had been committed by Broady, including the one that resulted in Georgeff’s murder, and that the robberies were “solved with the arrest of Thomas Broady.”
In 1978, on appeal, the murder conviction was reversed on the grounds of newly discovered evidence — the identification of the actual perpetrator, a man named Donald Boyd — was available to police before Broady’s trial, but suppressed. According to police, the testimony of Richard Clark, the man who identified Donald Boyd as Georgeff’s killer and who was also involved in the robbery himself, was not introduced at Broady’s trial because Clark refused to testify, asserting the privilege against self-incrimination. It was also noted that although Broady’s lawyer had failed to file a notice of alibi before the trial, the rules say “in the interest of justice, it’s up to the court’s discretion that witnesses be allowed to testify even though a notice was not filed.” On the night of the robbery-murder in question, Broady was at the home of the Rev. Cecil Alston where he and six other people were participating in a birthday party for the minister’s son.
Broady was granted a second trial, at which he was acquitted of the homicide. However, immediately after this acquittal on homicide charges, he was put back on trial and convicted of the June 12, 1973 armed robbery of a different Columbus restaurant. For this conviction, he was again sentenced to 10 to 25 years. Based on the belief of the judge who originally sentenced him and Tom Jones, the detective who had investigated the Georgeff murder, that this robbery was committed by a Broady look-alike, Broady was granted a commutation of sentence in August 1978, and released from prison in early October 1978. Donald Boyd, the Broady look-alike, had been shot and killed in a gun battle in Cleveland in 1973.
Broady applied for a pardon from the governor of Ohio in 1983, but that request was denied.
- Dolores Kennedy
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.