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Derius Irby

Other Cuyahoga County Exonerations
Shortly before 9 p.m. on July 31, 2015, two men with handguns robbed Eddie’s Discount store on Noble Road in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Three customers were ordered into a storeroom. One robber, whose face was uncovered, took about $700 from the cash register. The other robber, whose face was partially obscured by hooded sweatshirt, took a cell phone from a customer.

The two men fled the store and were seen getting into a waiting car that sped off.

Two weeks later, police arrested 19-year-old Charles Hill after they tracked the stolen cell phone to his home. A review of a surveillance video showed that Hill came into the store about an hour before the robbery and left without making a purchase. Police also recovered a hooded sweatshirt in Hill’s residence that resembled the one worn by one of the robbers.

Meanwhile, the owner of the store had identified the robber who took the money from the cash register as 17-year-old Hosea Lock, who lived in the neighborhood and had frequented the store in the past.

Lock was arrested and interrogated. After repeatedly asking the detective interrogating him for a low bond, Lock identified the hooded robber as 17-year-old Derius Irby. Irby was then arrested, and all three were charged with armed robbery, kidnapping, and theft.

Lock was called to testify at a hearing to determine whether Irby would be prosecuted as an adult , but he refused to identify Irby and repeatedly said he had not identified him. Subsequently, the tape recording of his statement implicating Irby was played, and the detective testified that Lock had in fact identified Irby as the robber with the hood.

Irby’s aunt testified that Irby was left-handed, which suggested that Irby was not the hooded robber because the surveillance video showed the gunman carrying his gun in his right hand. At the conclusion of the hearing, the court found that Irby could be prosecuted as an adult.

Hill and Lock ultimately pled guilty to armed robbery. Hill was sentenced to four years in prison, and Lock was sentenced to three years in prison.

Irby went to trial in October 2016 in Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas and chose to have his case decided by a judge without a jury. By that time, Lock had pled guilty to perjury for lying during Irby’s juvenile transfer hearing. On the witness stand, Lock asserted his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination and refused to testify.

The detective testified that Lock had implicated Irby, and the prosecution played a recording of Lock’s interrogation. The owner of Eddie’s Discount store testified that he had identified Irby from a photographic lineup. He admitted that he said he was only 50 percent sure about the identification. He also admitted that before viewing the lineup, detectives showed him photographs of Irby that they had gotten from Irby’s Facebook page.

Anthony Jordan, Irby’s defense attorney, argued that the surveillance video showed that the hooded robber was not Irby. Although the man’s face was partially obscured, the video showed he had a goatee. Irby had so little facial hair that he still did not need to shave. Jordan also noted that the man in the video was physically larger and had had much darker skin than Irby.

Nonetheless, Judge Matthew McMonigle convicted Irby of armed robbery, kidnapping, and theft.

Jordan then filed a motion for a new trial. By that time, a new chief prosecutor, Michael O’Malley, had taken office after defeating the incumbent Timothy McGinty in 2016. While the motion was pending, Jordan approached the newly named chief of the Prosecution's criminal division and asked that the case be reviewed. On March 17, 2017, Jordan met with the criminal division chief and Russell Tye, the prosecutor in charge of the conviction integrity unit. The prosecutors agreed to reinvestigate Irby's case.

Sentencing was delayed while the unit sent still images from the surveillance video to the FBI for analysis using facial recognition software. The FBI reported that although the facial recognition comparison was inconclusive, the man in the hooded sweatshirt was physically much larger than Irby and had a much darker complexion.

In addition, Hill provided a sworn affidavit saying that the third man involved in the robbery was not Irby, though he would not identify the third robber.

On May 8, 2017, Irby’s convictions were vacated and he was released on home monitoring. On May 31, 2017, the prosecution dismissed the charges.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 3/1/2018
Most Serious Crime:Robbery
Additional Convictions:Kidnapping, Theft
Reported Crime Date:2015
Sentence:Not sentenced
Age at the date of reported crime:17
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID, Perjury or False Accusation
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No