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Lonzo Thornton


Lonzo Thornton was convicted of robbery in Middleton,
Ohio, in February of 1927. He was exonerated one year later when the actual perpetrator confessed to the crime.
 
On the night of October 6, 1926, Louis Parkalab was approached on the street by two black men who demanded his money. Parkalab tried to resist but was struck and then robbed while he was still dazed from the blow. The two perpetrators fled the scene, taking $20.00 and an insurance policy, but a nearby policeman caught sight of one and chased him through the street before arresting him. The suspect’s name was James Ivory, and the victim identified him as one of the assailants.
 
Lonzo Thornton became a suspect the next day when he appeared at the jail looking for Ivory. Claiming that he wanted to visit Ivory in order to recover the overcoat he had lent him, Thornton was soon subject to interrogation. Thornton maintained that his only interaction with Ivory that evening was lending him a coat, but after Parkalab identified him as the second assailant, he and Ivory became the subjects of a grand jury investigation.
 
On January 13, 1927, Thornton and Ivory were indicted. They were tried together in Butler County Circuit Court. Parkalab identified both the men as the offenders at the trial. Although Thornton brought in five alibi witnesses, the jury was not convinced of his innocence. On February 15, Thornton and Ivory were convicted and sentenced to 10-to-25 years in the Ohio State Penitentiary at Columbus.
 
The following January, a man named Simon Williams, arrested on other charges, confessed to robbing Parkalab with Ivory. Not only did Williams bear a striking physical resemblance to Thornton, but he also gave an accurate account of that night’s events in his confession.
 
The Governor of Ohio, Vic Donahey, granted Thornton a full pardon on February 6, 1928 under a recommendation by the Ohio Board of Clemency.
 
– Researched by Jocelyn Huang
State:OH
County:Butler
Most Serious Crime:Robbery
Reported Crime Date:1926
Convicted:1927
Exonerated:1928
Sentence:10 to 25 years
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID