(Toledo, OH) Danny Brown, a Toledo man wrongly incarcerated for 19 years, received a setback on Friday. The 6th District Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 vote, denied his petition to force the Lucas County prosecutor to either retry or exonerate him.
Danny was released in 2001 after DNA evidence proved he could not have been the man who raped and killed Bobbie Russell in 1981. However, county prosecutors continue to consider him a "suspect" in a non-existent investigation in the case.
I have written extensively about Danny's case in the past few years; here is an article I wrote that provides much greater detail. I am writing today to express my frustration and outrage that the Lucas County prosecutor's office continues to stubbornly refuses to give Danny Brown his day in court.
Their collective inaction prevents Danny from seeking restitution for 19 years spent locked in state prisons and, more importantly, prevents Danny from clearing his name.
I met Danny in 2001 while I was working as a waiter at a high-end local restaurant. He hired in as a dishwasher and worked his way up to a cook in the years he was there. I never knew his story while we worked together; I just knew him as a friendly coworker who worked hard and had a positive outlook on life.
We both left the restaurant around the same time, and I ran into Danny several months later at UT. We were both taking classes at the university, and in our brief conversation he mentioned an upcoming court case. It was then - some two years after we met - that I first learned of his ordeal.
I worked with Danny on several articles, and his case has become a focus of activism on my part. Because he has become my friend, I no longer write straight news stories on his case, but rather focus on editorials like this.
I have worked with and been friends with Danny Brown for almost five years. In that time I have found him to be one of the kindest, most decent people I have ever met. If I had been wrongly locked up for 19 years I would want revenge. Danny, however, remains philosophical.
“I want to change the system; I’m not angry at any particular person,” he said. “I hope to spend the rest of my life working to prevent this type of injustice from ever happening again.”
He's a better man than I.
What happened to Danny Brown could happen to any citizen, and it is time for the state to do the right thing. 19 years in prison is a lot of lost wages; is the state putting up roadblocks just to save the money it will have to pay Danny?
I'd like to close with a short anecdote about Danny Brown that demonstrates his character. Throughout the years I have tried to convince Danny to engage in a campaign to raise money. I think that there are plenty of good-hearted people who would donate money to right the wrongs that have happened to Danny, even if the state of Ohio is reluctant to make restitution.
Danny has instead always insisted that people should donate to groups like Centurion Ministries, the organization that believed in Danny and helped free him in 2001.
I brought the subject up again yesterday when we were working on a new blog for Danny, and I suggested that we open a PayPal account in his name for concerned people to contribute.
"Only if we open it for people to send money to Centurion Ministries," he said. "There are other people in the same position I was in, and it doesn't seem right for me to take money when others still sit in jail."
Julia Bates - do the right thing, and either exonerate this man or retry him.