Cases & Deals

Ohio inmate exonerated based on DNA test results after 29 years in prison

Clients Towler, Raymond D.

A Jones Day team, along with the Ohio Innocence Project and Cleveland lawyer Mark DeVan, represented Raymond Towler in connection with seeking DNA testing that ultimately led to his exoneration. In 1981, Mr. Towler was convicted of rape based on eyewitness testimony, but no physical evidence. Mr. Towler pled not guilty and, since his conviction, always has denied committing the crime, including when an admission of guilt likely would have resulted in his parole. Only a very limited amount of physical evidence was available for DNA testing, and earlier testing in 1994 produced no meaningful results. In November 2008, after receiving preliminary, inconclusive DNA test results that were suggestive of innocence, the Jones Day team, working with co-counsel, consulted with multiple DNA testing experts and proposed a testing laboratory and a multi-step DNA testing protocol that was designed to maximize the possibility of obtaining definitive results from the sparse remaining evidence. When that testing was performed, the laboratory both identified the rapist's DNA on the victim's underwear and determined that the DNA it had found was not Mr. Towler's. After receiving the new test results, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor immediately agreed to Mr. Towler's release, and he was freed and exonerated by the trial court the next day. Mr. Towler is the longest-serving Ohio inmate to have been exonerated based on DNA evidence.