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

The state's key witness claimed he lied on the stand about two men imprisoned for murder. His interview resulted in an affidavit for the Ohio Innocence Project.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Just before today's 4:30 p.m. deadline, the Lucas County Prosecutor's Office filed its opposition to a motion for a new trial from Wayne Braddy and Karl Willis.

In early 2000, the men were convicted of killing 13-year-old Maurice Purifie on June 15, 1998. They have continued to profess their innocence and their story was the subject of "Guilty without Proof," a 2019 WTOL investigation.

Following that investigation, the state's key witness, Travis Slaughter, came forward for an hourlong interview with 11 Investigates. In that interview, he claimed he lied on the stand about the men. His interview resulted in an affidavit for the Ohio Innocence Project, and that affidavit and other portions of "Guilty without Proof" became the basis of a motion for a new trial from Braddy and Willis.


In its opposition, Evy Jarrett and Jeffrey Lingo seized on the fact that Slaughter had provided another affidavit in 2002 that had been deemed unreliable by a previous court. That affidavit also said that Braddy and Willis were innocent, but seemed to imply that he was solely responsible for the murder. In his interview with WTOL 11 and in his latest affidavit, he claimed that he was innocent and had no knowledge of the crime. 

He explained that he blamed Braddy and Willis because the longtime friends had a falling out over clothes he stole from Willis. At one point, he said on camera that he confronted Willis with the intent to kill him. In interviews, all three men told the same story.

Slaughter's narrative has remained consistent in conversations with 11 Investigate, but he has told several different stories since August, 1998.


Another state witness, Shondrea Rayford, also went on camera to say that she knew nothing about the crime and that she was coerced by detectives into saying that Slaughter had confessed to her about his involvement. She told WTOL 11 that was not true. There is a recorded conversation between Rayford and detectives in which she says Slaughter told her he killed "a boy named Maurice."

Credit: WTOL
Shondrea Rayford

The prosecutor's office concluded its opposition by stating: "Defendants have not and cannot demonstrate that Slaughter's latest affidavit is credible and true, and both his previous affidavit and the affidavit of Rayford have been rejected as a basis for a new trial. The Court should likewise deny the current motion for new trial."

It is an argument that the prosecutor's office has made in previous filings - that Slaughter is not credible. However, Slaughter was the only person to testify that he had any knowledge of Braddy and Willis' involvement. There were no other witnesses, DNA evidence, and the murder weapon was not recovered.

"We are disappointed and frustrated," said Donald Caster, an Ohio Innocence Project attorney. "The prosecutor's office acknowledges that Slaughter is not believable but continues to imprison two men based on his testimony."

An email request for comment was sent to Jarrett, but she had not responded by early evening. The prosecutor's office has not responded to requests for comment about the case since "Guilty without Proof" aired in August, 2019.

The Ohio Innocence Project will now have an opportunity to respond. After that, Lucas County Common Pleas Court Judge Gary Cook will likely schedule a hearing to discuss the arguments.

Credit: WTOL
Karl Willis scoffs at what the state says was his motive - $200 to kill Maurice Purifie. "What could a 13-year-old even be involved with that you would want to do something to him for $200? That's a child, man," Willis says. “You’ve got to have some kind of demonic spirit if you want to go hurt a child. I had nephews and nieces that age.”
Credit: WTOL
Wayne Braddy said he was in shock when he heard Travis Slaughter speaking against him on the stand. "I just kept shaking my head when he was on the stand. It was something like when you get ringing in your ears and it takes awhile to go away. Hearing him talk was just like a ringing in my ears. … It was just pain, man, just pain. That stuff hurt my heart."

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