TOLEDO, Ohio — Lucas County Common Pleas Court Judge Gary Cook said Wayne Braddy and Karl Willis have not done enough to prove that they deserve a new trial.
The men were convicted in 2000 for the 1998 murder of 13-year-old Maurice Purifie in central Toledo. Their story was told in a 30-minute broadcast in 2019 by our 11 Investigates team.
The major result of that multi-month investigation was the recanted testimony of the state's sole witness--Travis Slaughter--who sat down for an hour-long interview on camera with 11 Investigates.
In that interview, he said he told police that Braddy and Willis killed Purifie because the men had gotten in a fight over clothing and he wanted to get back at them.
In his decision, Judge Cook said that Slaughter lied multiple times during the investigation and even the state acknowledged he was lying. Judge Cook noted the state argued that the only time he told the truth was when he was offered a plea deal on the murder and an unrelated rape. Because of his credibility issues, Judge Cook said, it was unlikely his latest story would change the outcome because the jury already knew parts of his stories were fabricated.
Judge Cook also acknowledged an interview that WTOL did with jury foreman Jon Crye, who said the jury ignored instructions from the trial court judge. He said his hands are tied by Ohio Evid. R. 606(B), which says that a juror may not testify as a witness in a trial he was involved in.
Judge Cook also stated, "describing evidence as thin would be an understatement."
In fact, 11 Investigates highlighted there was no physical evidence, other eyewitnesses, gun evidence or DNA linking Braddy and Willis to the crime. In the weeks after the 2000 trial, lead detective Bart Beavers sent Prosecutor Julia Bates a letter commending her team on convicting the men with so little evidence.
At the end of his decision, Judge Cook asked the Sixth District Court of Appeals for guidance going forward in the case. The defendants are expected to appeal to the court.
More local headlines from WTOL 11