On June 26, 2003, Governor Bob Taft granted clemency for the first time in his tenure. Jerome Campbell, an innocent victim of the faulty justice system in Ohio, was not executed as scheduled in late June. Taft’s statement read as follows:

“First, Mr. Campbell presented significant new DNA evidence that was not available to the jury at the time of trial. Although this new evidence does not exonerate Mr. Campbell, it does contradict an impression that was left in the minds of some jurors during the trial. Second, attorneys for Mr. Campbell have presented evidence bearing on the credibility of two important prosecution witnesses. It is now apparent that two informants who were incarcerated at the time of their testimony were, in fact, interested in seeking more lenient treatment from prosecutors as a result of their testimony. This information was not presented at trial even though it would have enabled the jurors to more fully assess the veracity of the witnesses’ testimony.”

It is remarkable that Taft admitted that old DNA evidence should be tested and the fact that jurors did not hear evidence is an issue. Also, he apparently acknowledged the existence of jailhouse snitches, who receive special favors for lying under oath. It is unfortunate he did not use this logic in the case of another innocent death row prisoner, John Byrd, who was murdered by Taft in February 2002. Byrd requested DNA testing for old bloodstains on his clothes, that probably helped convict him, but he was refused. His death sentence was also based only on the word of a notorious jailhouse snitch.

A new book in the series "The Fitrakis Files" by Free Press Editor, Bob Fitrakis, contains the articles he wrote in the Alive and the Free Press about John Byrd’s case and other prison issues. It’s called Free Byrd and Other Cries for Justice.