Students and community members listened to a man and his lawyer tell the story of their triumph of overturning a wrongful conviction during Tiffin University’s Good Morning World lecture Thursday, presenting “Wrongfully Convicted-Getting the Innocent Out of Prison.”
In 1988, three women were raped in Dayton. Feb. 12, 1991, Dean Gillispie was sentenced to prison for the crimes. He was later acquitted.
At the time of the rapes, Gillispie, who was 25, said he was in Kentucky camping with friends. The original investigation concluded Gillispie did not fit the description of the suspect and had an alibi and the case produced no physical evidence.
Mark Godsey, Carmichel professor of law and director of the Ohio Innocence Project at the College of Law of the University of Cincinnati and a former federal prosecutor, worked with Gillispie pursuing his innocence.
The Ohio Innocence Project has resulted in the release of 17 people from prison in the past 10 years, Godsey said.
He said the use of DNA evidence beginning in 1992 has changed how investigators look at cases further.
Gillispie was convicted of the crimes because information was withheld from the jury and police investigators hid and destroyed evidence, Godsey said.
A federal judge overturned Gillispie’s conviction in 2011. The prosecutor in the case is appealing the conviction.
“People do not want to admit that a mistake had been made,” Godsey said.
He said the prosecutor does not want to spend the money for a DNA test.
“Why would you not want to seek the truth?” Gillispie said.
During the 20 years Gillispie spent in prison, he used painting to clear his mind.
Throughout the years, Gillispie said his friends kept visiting him and want him to sell his paintings.
“(They) have their wife and kids,” he said. “My paintings are all that I’ve got to show for the last 20 years.”
Gillispie said there is no amount of money that can get his life back.
“I had lost my business, my home, fishing, camping with my friends. Even if they would bring me a truck load of money everyday, it would not bring back what I had missed out on,” Gillispie said.
Speaking to audiences also brings peace of mind to Gillispie.
“(Speaking) is the greatest thing as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “I want to get the word out and let people know what can go wrong.”
“I will spend the rest of my life working to seek out the truth,” Gillispie said.