Man cleared by DNA evidence in rape case gets $4M settlement

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio (AP) — A man who spent more than 16 years in prison for a rape that DNA evidence showed he did not commit has reached a $4 million wrongful imprisonment settlement.

The agreement between Christopher Miller and Cleveland Heights was made public this week. Miller had been sentenced to 40 years in 2002 on charges including rape in an attack on a Cleveland Heights woman.

The victim’s purse was stolen during the attack and police started tracking her cellphone, which was in the purse. They eventually found the phone in Miller’s possession, and he said he had bought it from a stranger in exchange for drugs and denied involvement in the rape or the attack.

The Ohio Innocence Project became involved in the case and pushed for updated testing that found DNA from two men convicted of a similar crime but none from Miller, who has been free since 2018. A judge ruled in August 2021 that he had been wrongfully imprisoned, meaning he was eligible to seek compensation.

“Too many years were stolen from me and my family. I can never get that time back, time to raise my children and build my life,” Miller said in a statement. “But I am thriving now, and I am glad to put this final chapter of my case behind me so I can move forward.”

Cleveland Heights and its police department denied any wrongdoing or liability. A city spokesperson said that “proceeding to try a lawsuit over events nearly 22 years ago poses a substantial risk for both sides in these circumstances.”

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