Ohio Innocence Project

An Ohio man who served 17 years in prison for a rape he did not commit was exonerated and released Thursday with help from University of Cincinnati law students and their professors.

The Ohio Innocence Project, part of the UC College of Law’s Lois and Richard Rosenthal Institute for Justice, took up the case of Christopher Miller, 41, who was convicted of the kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault and robbery of a woman in Cleveland Heights in 2001.

Students and faculty at UC’s College of Law took up the case in 2015. It marks the 27th defendant freed with help from the UC College of Law’s Ohio Innocence Project.

An ebullient Miller left the Cuyahoga County Courthouse to cheers from family and supporters.

“My baby’s home,” his mother said, hugging and kissing him.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Miller said.

Miller was sentenced to 40 years in state prison for an attack that left the victim so traumatized that she told the court she sleeps with the lights on and can’t go into her own home by herself at night.

Miller always maintained his innocence and offered an alibi — he was asleep with his girlfriend miles away when the assault occurred. But police investigating the assault tracked the victim’s cell phone to Miller, who said he bought it from a local drug dealer.

A second suspect, Richard Stadmire, also was arrested and convicted in 2002.

A third suspect in the case, Charles Boyd, testified that Miller was an accomplice in the crime. Miller maintained that Boyd was lying and that they had never met. Boyd later recanted his testimony.

Prosecutor Michael O’Malley on Thursday said a grand jury this week indicted Boyd on new charges of rape and perjury in the case.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Hollie Gallagher ordered that the convictions against Miller be vacated and that he be released immediately. Read more.