Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Old case must be resolved, and quickly

Some items while doubting gas prices will be anywhere near $1.65 a gallon come Election Day:

JUSTICE: Danny Brown deserves better from the Lucas County Prosecutor s Office. To keep him in judicial limbo three years after his release from prison is patently unfair.

Either prosecute him or exonerate him. It s not like new evidence from the 1981 rape and murder of Bobbie Russell is going to surface.

Mr. Brown spent 19 years in prison for the crime. He was released in 2001 after a DNA test linked a semen sample from the murder scene to someone else.

Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates still considers him a suspect, though. The victim s son, who witnessed the murder when he was 6 years old, said that two men committed the crime and Mr. Brown was one of them.

Mr. Brown filed a wrongful-imprisonment lawsuit against the state in 2002. He is seeking $25,000 for every year he spent in prison, or $475,000 total. By continuing its investigation, the prosecutor s office is effectively preventing the lawsuit from moving forward.

If this stalemate continues, it might start to smell like an abuse of power. Twenty-three years after the crime, it s time for Ms. Bates to make a decision on Mr. Brown s fate. He deserves the opportunity -- either in a trial or through exoneration -- to clear his name, once and for all.

From where I m sitting, I don t see how Mr. Brown could be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. He passed a polygraph exam and DNA evidence pointed to someone else. (Common sense says DNA and a polygraph would trump a 6-year-old s recollection of events.)

Beyond that, lest we forget that he spent 19 years in prison for this crime, his sentence was 15 years to life. Not life without the possibility of parole, but 15 years to life.

What is to be gained by prosecuting him again? How many more years does Ms. Bates want him to serve? I have a hard time believing that she envisions a scenario in which the county s investment in time and money would yield a satisfactory reward.

It would be one thing if Mr. Brown had a string of arrests since being released from prison, but he hasn t. No arrests, says his attorney, Jon Richardson, not even close. Certainly, there is no indication that he is a danger to society. (He is married and working two jobs. Sound like anyone you know?)

Danny Brown, 49, wants to move on with his life. But he can t do that until Ms. Bates takes the necessary step to remove the cloud of suspicion that has hovered over him since April 9, 2001, the day he walked out of prison.

Prosecute or exonerate.

If not now, when?

TWIN PACK: Two slanted questions this week. As a tribute to Boogie Records, which will close its doors on Feb. 29, I m offering 30 points -- one for each year it has been in business -- for each correct answer.

1) Isn t it amazing how the investigation of former Treasury Secretary Paul O Neill hit the ground running, just a day after he criticized President Bush on 60 Minutes, while the investigation of the outing of a CIA operative by a senior member of the Bush administration has moved at a snail-like pace?

2) Aren t there only three Democratic presidential candidates -- Wesley Clark, John Edwards, and Dick Gephardt -- capable of defeating President Bush in November? (Note: Any answer that reeks of Republican arrogance will receive a maximum of 10 points.)

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