innocence blog

A Web log for the Innocence Institute of Point Park University

Monday, February 05, 2007

Two innocent even if proven guilty?

This article appeared in Cleveland's Plain Dealer on January 26, 2007:

Two innocent even if proven guilty?
Attorney: Third man beat woman


Friday, January 26, 2007
James F. McCartyPlain Dealer Reporter

Renowned defense attorney Barry Scheck will file court documents today seeking new trials for two Cleveland men convicted of killing a 74-year-old Slavic Village woman in 1999.

Scheck's Innocence Project has freed wrongfully convicted men in Cuyahoga and Summit counties in recent years using DNA evidence that was so convincing that prosecutors worked with him.

But Scheck shouldn't count on the support of the prosecutor's office this time.

I'll take a closer look at this case, but they lost their way on this one," Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason said. "They must be running out of innocent people to represent."

Scheck, in interviews Thursday, said he regretted he won't be teaming with Mason to help free Thomas Siller, 51, and Walter Zimmer, 50. Both men are serving long prison terms.

They were found guilty of tying up Alice Zolkowski in 1997, ransacking her home, and then beating her into a coma.

She died two years later without ever regaining consciousness.

Prosecutors won convictions with no direct evidence except the word of a third suspect, Jason Smith, 37, who testified he was there the night of June 3, but swore he didn't participate in the attack. Siller and Zimmer admitted seeing the victim at her home but denied any involvement in her death.

Smith struck a deal with prosecutors, receiving three years in prison after pleading guilty to aggravated burglary.

Nearly 10 years later, Scheck said he has new evidence that points to Smith's guilt and Siller's and Zimmer's innocence.

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