“I’m so happy today that this battle had come to an end,” Ajamu said, according to Reuters. Cuyahoga County Judge Pamela Barker stepped down from her bench to give Ajamu a hug, the Associated Press reported.
The case against Ajamu, formerly known as Ronnie Bridgeman, began to fall apart after a key witness recanted his testimony decades after the conviction.
In 1975, two people had attacked Harold Franks with acid, and one of the people shot him. A third person drove a getaway car. A 12-year-old boy, Eddie Vernon, served as the state’s main witness in the case, and a jury convicted Bridgeman (as he was known at the time), along with his brother Wiley Bridgeman, then 20, and Ricky Jackson, 19.
The three were sentenced to death, but their sentences were later commuted. Ajamu was released on parole in 2003 after serving 27 years.