Jugde overturns conviction, citing prosecutor error

CLEVELAND - A man convicted of murder charges in a prison riot had his conviction in an earlier killing set aside a second time.

If Rasheem Matthew hadn't been "wrongly convicted," he likely wouldn't have been a prisoner at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility during the 1993 inmate uprising, said his lawyer, J. Dean Carro.

U.S. District Judge John Adams ruled former Cuyahoga County chief prosecutor Carmen Marino failed to tell the jury that two key witnesses who testified against Matthew in 1990 had been given plea deals in unrelated theft cases.

Marino told jurors during the trial that neither man was promised a reduced sentence for testifying. The case hinged on the witnesses' credibility, so not disclosing their deals violated Matthew's right to a fair trial, Adams said.

The judge said Matthew must be retried by June for the 1989 slaying of Wayne Price, who was shot and killed at a housing project while trying to buy cocaine.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Daniel Gaul made the same ruling in 1996, but a state appeals court overturned the decision.

Marino, who retired from the prosecutor's office in 2002 after 30 years in which he tried dozens of high-profile cases, denied wrongdoing.

"Tell the judge he's wrong," Marino said Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for county Prosecutor Bill Mason said the office plans to appeal the latest ruling and remains confident Matthew is guilty.

Matthew still has to spend at least 15 years in prison on his sentence for two murder convictions stemming from the 1993 riot that killed nine inmates and a guard at the maximum-security Lucasville lockup.

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