CLEVELAND - A man who has spent the last 16 years in prison for rape will get a new trial after DNA evidence cleared him of the crime.
Christopher Miller, 41, was sentenced in 2002 to spend the next four decades in prison for a crime he maintained he never committed. In the years since he imprisoned, Miller was cleared by DNA evidence and two new suspects were arrested.
Miller was released from prison after a judge granted him a new trial.
The Ohio Innocence Project took on his case in 2015. two years later prosecutors agreed to retest the DNA. Thursday Miller heard the words he's been waiting to hear for nearly two decades.
"The case has been dismissed against you. You are going to be ordered released at this point in time," Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Hollie Gallagher said during Miller's hearing on Thursday.
Miller was arrested in 2002 with a woman's cell phone, who, the day before was forced into her Euclid Heights apartment by two men and raped at gunpoint. She identified Miller as one of them.
Miller said he bought the cell phone in exchange for drugs and was not guilty of or present to the crime. His DNA did not match.
He was still convicted and sentenced to more than 30 years.
Then, just two years later, investigators matched the DNA to another man, involved in a similar rape case.
Years later when the Ohio Innocence Project got involved and evidence was re-tested with new technology, a second man's DNA was a found and ruled out Miller's involvement.
"Chris Miller got lucky. The evidence was still there to be tested. There was conclusive proof of his innocence that was able to recovered from the DNA testing and that's why we are here today," said Ohio Innocence Project lawyer Brian Howe.
Thursday was a new beginning for more than Christopher Miller.
His children grew up without him.
"I don't have that memory of him being home. Me and my brother and my sister? We get to have a happy ending," Chaeale Miller said.
"Happy we get to have our father in our life. That he gets to spend a lot of time with us," De'Nazha Miller said.
While Miller was exonerated on the rape charges, he could still face other original charges that haven't been announced yet, in his new trial. But according to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O'Malley, after 17 years, Miller has served his time.