Retrial underway for 2 Cleveland men who spent years in prison for a crime they say they didn’t commit

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 10:25 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 20, 2022 at 2:35 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The retrial for two Cleveland men who spent nearly 15 years in prison for shooting at Cleveland police officers began Monday in front of Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge John O’Donnell.

Michael Sutton and Kenny Phillips have been out on bond since they were released from prison in May 2021.

“Knowing that we have to go through this, I just feel like we’re doing this all over again.” said Elaine Witherspoon, Phillips’ mother.

Witherspoon said she hopes this jury sees they have the wrong person.

Kenny Phillips
Kenny Phillips ((Source:

In April 2021, the Ohio 8th District Court of Appeals granted both Sutton and Phillips the right to a new trial, citing lack of evidence.

Phillips and Sutton were charged in 2006 for shooting at Cleveland police officers on the city’s East side.

Michael Sutton
Michael Sutton ((Source:

Phillips was sentenced to 92 1/2 years in prison and Sutton was sentenced to 46 1/2 years in prison.

Donald Caster, an attorney with the Ohio Innocence Project, is steadfast that both Sutton and Phillips are innocent.

“Two Cleveland police officers, one current and one former have come forward and said the original testimony from other officers doesn’t make sense from what they saw,” Caster said in Nov. 2020.

The men, 17 and 18 at the time of the shooting, have maintained their innocence.