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Ohio Innocence Project submits filing, argues 'Guilty Without Proof' defendants deserve new trial

Judge Cook now must decide whether he will grant a new trial or at least allow an evidentiary hearing.
Credit: WTOL

TOLEDO, Ohio — Late Thursday afternoon, the Ohio Innocence Project submitted a filing to Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Gary Cook, arguing that Wayne Braddy and Karl Willis deserve a new trial, or at least an evidentiary hearing, related to their conviction for the 1998 murder of Maurice Purifie.

Wrongful conviction claims were investigated in 2019 by 11 Investigates. "Guilty without Proof" found multiple issues with the 2000 conviction. 

RELATED: Lucas County prosecutor opposes motion for new trial in 'Guilty without Proof' case

The only witness against the men was Travis Slaughter, who told 11 Investigates in 2019 that he lied at trial about the men. He said he lied because the men had a dispute over clothing and that he wanted to get back at them.

Police identified other suspects early in the investigation but focused on Slaughter after his girlfriend, Shondrea Rayford, reportedly called police to say that Slaughter had confessed to the crime. During a nearly six-hour interview, Slaughter repeatedly denied involvement. 

After more than five hours, he implicated himself and Braddy and Willis. He told WTOL, "If I was going down, they were going with me."

RELATED: Wrongful conviction group steps into 'Guilty without Proof' case

Not only did Slaughter go on camera to say that none of it was true, but Rayford also went on camera to say that she had no knowledge of the crime and that she only told police what they wanted to hear.

After his interview with 11 Investigates, Slaughter submitted an affidavit for the Ohio Innocence Project, repeating the same story he told on camera. Last month, the Lucas County prosecutor's office objected to the motion for a new trial, saying that their own witness was not reliable.

On Thursday afternoon, the OIP shot back, giving an explanation for Slaughter lying at trial. Besides the fight over clothes that he talked about on camera, the OIP said he had an incentive to lie because prosecutors offered him a plea deal, not only for the murder of Purifie, but also for an unrelated rape of an underage girl.

Judge Cook now must decide whether he will grant a new trial or at least allow an evidentiary hearing, in which he could hear for himself the testimony of Slaughter. In the original trial, Judge Judith Lanzinger presided over the trial.