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Cleared of murder, Ohio man released from prison after 39 years

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An Ohio man who spent 39 years in prison for a murder he did not commit was freed on Friday after becoming the longest-held U.S. prisoner to be exonerated.

“Life is full of small victories and this is a big one,” Cuyahoga County Judge Richard McMonagle told Ricky Jackson, 57, before his release on Friday. McMonagle’s father, George McMonagle, was the original judge in Jackson’s case in 1975.

A second man convicted in the case, Wiley Bridgeman, 60, was released shortly after Jackson on Friday after charges were dismissed. Bridgeman had first been freed in 2002 but was imprisoned again for a probation violation, defense attorneys said.

After his release, Jackson smiled and hugged his attorney, Brian Howe, and other former inmates who had been exonerated as a result of efforts by the Cincinnati-based Ohio Innocence Project.

Jackson was convicted along with Bridgeman and Bridgeman’s brother, Kwame Ajamu, for the 1975 murder of Harold Franks, a Cleveland-area money order salesman, after 12-year-old Eddie Vernon testified he saw the attack, according to court documents.

Vernon, now 53, recanted his testimony and told authorities he had never actually witnessed the crime. There was no other evidence linking Jackson to the killing.

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Other witnesses confirmed Jackson, a teenager at the time, was on a school bus when the slaying occurred. He had originally been sentenced to death but the sentence was vacated because of a paperwork error.

The Ohio Innocence Project and the National Registry of Exonerations said Jackson’s 39 years marked the longest a prisoner had been held before being exonerated.

When asked how he kept his spirits up in prison, Jackson said he always believed he would be vindicated.

“Just because you are in prison doesn’t mean you have to be a prisoner,” Jackson told reporters outside the county sheriff’s office. “If you know you are innocent you have to keep fighting.”

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Ajamu, who was released from prison in 2003 after serving his sentence, has filed a request for a new trial in the case. Ajamu wept in court on Friday to see his brother, Wiley Bridgeman, exonerated.

(Reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Bill Trott)

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New York Times admits they ‘downplayed’ the rape allegation against Trump

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On Monday, The New York Times issued a mea culpa for the nature of their coverage of the allegation by advice columnist E. Jean Carroll that President Donald Trump raped her in a department store in the 1990s.

"After an article last week reported the advice columnist E. Jean Carroll's rape allegations against President Trump, some readers accused The Times of downplaying the story," wrote staff editor Laura Takenaga. "Many have written to ask us why we didn't give the allegations more attention on our website and in print ... Some questioned whether the lack of prominence showed too much deference to the president's denials, or whether it even suggested misogyny or an unwillingness to believe a victim's account."

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2020 Election

Joe Sestak is the 24th Democratic candidate to enter the 2020 race

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Former Pennsylvania Representative and 3-star general in the US Navy, Joe Sestak, 67, has made history - as the 24th candidate to seek the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

The field is already saturated with candidates young, old, black, white, gay, straight, and every descriptor in between. Diversity - it's a thing - and we embrace it. But 24?

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LGBTQ pride ‘forces’ people to accept ‘a perverted and non-biblical view of sexuality’: West Virginia Republican

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West Virginia state Sen. Mike Azinger penned an angry op-ed for the Parkersburg News and Sentinel, scorning the idea of LGBTQ acceptance and warning that it is a massive plot to indoctrinate people against Christian values.

"Tolerance, in the face of the violation of the commandments of God, is no virtue at all," said Azinger, a manager of a contracting firm with a master's degree in pastoral theology. He ripped into the local newspaper for covering an LGBTQ pride event the previous Saturday, thundering that, "Sexual deviancy is going mainstream."

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