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Wrongful Conviction Day features discussion about 'Impossible Choices: Innocent People and Dark Plea Deals' on Oct. 3

The Center for Law, Justice and Culture commemorates Wrongful Conviction Day featuring a discussion about “Impossible Choices: Innocent People and Dark Plea Deals" featuring Marcus Sapp and Marty Levingston on Oct. 3, at 7 p.m. in the Walter Hall Rotunda.

Justice Michael P. Donnelly of the Supreme Court of Ohio, a former prosecutor and trial judge, also will be presenting on dark plea deals.


Justice Michael P. Donnelly of the Supreme Court of Ohio
Supreme Court of Ohio Justice Michael P. Donnelly

“Wrongful Conviction Day is an opportunity to raise awareness around the causes and remedies for wrongful convictions while also honoring the emotional and personal costs of wrongful conviction for innocent people, their families, and victims,” said Larry Hayman, Esq., director of legal engagement and pre-law program at the Center for Law, Justice and Culture in the College of Arts and Sciences. Hayman also is advisor to OHIO’s Ohio Innocence Project chapter, OIP-u.

Levingston served 15 years in prison for a murder he did not commit.

"The government’s case against Marty suggested that he was one of two shooters who committed the crimes, and that he had been identified by a witness who knew him from the apartment complex. At trial, that witness doubted her identification of Marty," according to the Ohio Innocence Project website. "In February of 2023, Marty returned home to that loving family and had his first steak dinner in over 15 years. In his freedom, Marty has not only reunited with his family but also returned to the workforce, married the love of his life, and been home to welcome his latest grandchild," according to OIP.

Sapp served 13 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted in 2010 of murder and assault that occurred during a home invasion in southwest Ohio. He was sentenced to prison for a term of 27 years to life.

"OIP’s co-founder and director, Professor of Law Mark A. Godsey, investigated Marcus’s case for years. He and his student teams eventually uncovered exculpatory evidence. They discovered that the jury in Marcus’s case never heard evidence that the surviving victim of the home invasion had identified another person shortly after the murder," according to the OIP website. "Marcus was released on Jan. 27, 2023. He was home in time to celebrate his mother’s 69th birthday. Since then, Marcus has become a frequent speaker about his experience, educating attorneys and hundreds of high school, college, and law school students. He hopes to move forward with his dreams of owning his own business in the Cincinnati area."

This event is sponsored by Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity, OIP-u, and the National Black Law Students Association.

Ohio University alumnus Pierce Reed is the policy director at the Ohio Innocence Project at the Ohio Innocence Project at Cincinnati Law and will join Sapp and Levingston for the program. Reed earned a B.A. in Psychology from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1986.

September 21, 2023
Staff reports