NewsLocal NewsCleveland Metro


2 men released after nearly 15 years behind bars after new trial set

Screen Shot 2021-05-03 at 7.02.32 PM.png
Posted at 7:09 PM, May 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-03 23:50:16-04

CLEVELAND — After nearly 15 years behind bars, a judge paved the way for two men convicted of attempted murder to go home.

The decision comes after the Ohio Court of Appeals ruled that Michael Sutton and Kenny Phillips are entitled to new trials after attorneys said inconsistencies in police testimony were discovered.

Through it all, Phillips' mother, Elaine Witherspoon, never lost hope.

"Yep, because I knew he was innocent. I know they were innocent," Witherspoon said.

Phillips turned 18 in 2006 when he was arrested and then convicted in connection with a drive-by shooting at East 55th Street and Woodland Avenue.

He was sentenced to 92 years in prison.

Sutton was sentenced to 41 and a half years behind bars.

But then attorneys for the pair discovered new evidence in the case.

"We know now that the two officers who testified at trial weren’t where they said they were and couldn’t have seen what they said they saw. We know that because there are two police officers who say they weren’t," said Donald Caster with the Ohio Innocence Project.

The men learned on Monday that they are able to await the next steps in the legal process at home, just in time for Mother's Day.

"Faith over fear. Faith over fear. Believing. Believing. I knew that he was going to come home. I knew he was going to come home. He is today," Witherspoon said.

As they walked out, they were greeted with years-worth of hugs, tears and elation.

"I see the love. It's been a long time coming," said Sutton.

The two maintained their innocence.

"God is good," said Sutton. "I knew one day, I just never knew when."

Phillips, at times, was at a loss for words.

"I’ve been elevating myself and proving myself," he said. "I always had the faith over fear, all day."

The Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office is appealing the decision to grant them new trials.

A spokesman said that prosecutors owe that to the victims of the crime.