Suspect in University Heights construction site hit-and-run vindicated in 1975 murder

Suspect named in construction zone accident in University Heights

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - If the name Wiley Bridgeman sounds familiar, there’s a good reason.

Bridgeman was at the center of one of the most notorious cases of a miscarriage of justice in Cleveland history.

He’s one of three teenagers charged, convicted, and sent to death row for a 1975 murder they did not commit.

Bridgeman, his brother Kwame Ajamu, and a third man, Rickey Jackson, were released from prison five years ago after spending nearly 40 years in prison for the murder of a Northeast Ohio salesman.

The conviction was based mostly on the testimony of a 12-year-old boy who eventually recanted and said police coerced to lie.

In the 911 call obtained by Cleveland 19, Bridgeman says, not only was he driving fast, but he was also on the phone when he crashed his 2019 Cadillac into two road workers in University Heights around 3 a.m. Thursday.

The 64-year-old allegedly kept driving until he slammed into two telephone poles four miles down the road.

Incredibly, just hours later, a federal appeals court overturned a lower court decision and allowed Bridgeman, his brother, and Jackson to sue Cleveland police over whether the department withheld and fabricated evidence in their case.

Just last week, Bridgeman’s brother talked to Cleveland 19 for an upcoming story.

“1975 when they arrested us. Whatever the agenda was the big part portion of it was to close the case and they did so with three little boys that had nothing to do with it, you know,” said Ajamu.

But now, Bridgeman is facing two other battles; possible charges in connection to the Thursday crash and a battle for his life. He’s listed in stable condition at Hillcrest Hospital.

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