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Deontae Wilson

Other Ohio Exonerations with Mistaken Witness ID
On February 5, 2017, a man armed with a handgun confronted a 32-year-old woman in her driveway in Cleveland, Ohio. He demanded money and then forced the woman into the basement of the home where another gunman joined him.

The robbers tied up the woman, her 28-year-old boyfriend, and her nine-year-old daughter. They then fled with a wide-screen television, three iPhones, an iPad, and jewelry.

The woman later recounted the attack to her landlord, and described the man who confronted her in the driveway as having a missing tooth. The landlord said the description seemed to fit 28-year-old Deontae Wilson, whom the landlord knew from the neighborhood. The landlord found a photo of Wilson from Wilson’s Facebook page.

The woman recognized Wilson as one of the attackers and notified police.

Wilson was arrested on March 7, 2017 and charged with numerous counts of armed robbery, burglary, assault, aggravated menacing, and illegal use of a weapon.

He went to trial in Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas and chose to have his case decided by a judge without a jury. Both the woman and her boyfriend identified Wilson as the robber. The woman’s daughter also testified about the crime, but could not identify Wilson.

On June 21, 2017, Common Pleas Judge Nancy Fuerst convicted Wilson of burglary, armed robbery, assault, aggravated menacing, and illegal use of a weapon.

While Wilson was awaiting sentencing, he told his attorney, R. Emmett Moran, that another inmate in the jail—who also had a missing tooth—had admitted to Wilson that he committed the crime. Moran informed the prosecution.

An investigator for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Conviction Integrity Unit reinvestigated the case. Wilson took and passed a polygraph examination.

On August 17, 2017, the prosecution moved to vacate Wilson’s conviction. The motion said the prosecution had concluded that Wilson “cannot be guilty of this matter beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Judge Fuerst granted the motion to vacate the conviction, the prosecution dismissed the charges, and Wilson was released.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 8/24/2017
Last Updated: 7/15/2020
Most Serious Crime:Robbery
Additional Convictions:Assault, Other Violent Felony, Burglary/Unlawful Entry, Illegal Use of a Weapon
Reported Crime Date:2017
Sentence:Not sentenced
Age at the date of reported crime:28
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No