CLEVELAND -- Anthony Lemons says he didn't do it. Now the convicted killer is back in a Cleveland jail, just a hearing away from getting a new trial.
Lemons was 20 when he was convicted of murdering Eric Sims. He was convicted on the testimony of a crack-using prostitute, Jude Adamcik.
Lemons has argued that prosecutors withheld key evidence, including that Adamcik failed to identify Lemons during the intial photo line-up; that when Adamcik saw Lemons in person, she told police Lemons was wearing the same shoes he had on during the night of the killing -- even though the shoes had not gone on sale until eight months following the murder; and that additional witnesses identified a different killer.
Lemons spoke exclusively to the Investigator Tom Meyer in the Cuyahoga County jail recently. He said prosecutors offered him a deal that most of us would think is pretty good -- plead guilty to a lesser offense and go home, a free man.
"I'm not here for that," said Lemons. "I'm here to prove my innocence. Let's go to trial."
Lemons said he doesn't want a felony on his record. He wants to clear his name and get on with this life.
He's been locked up in a downstate prison for 17 years. While he's been confined to county jail, jail officials describe him a a model inmate. But Lemons wants to become a model citizen.
"I want to be a part of this community. I want the community to embrace me and offer me a job," Lemons said.
Judge Janet Burnside will hold a hearing on April 23 to decide if Lemons deserves a new murder trial.
A spokesman for Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason denied that a formal plea was offered to Lemons. Prosecutors also say that none of the evidence Lemons is relying on would prove that he did not commit the murder.
"I'm innocent. If I get a new trial, the truth will come out. That's just the way I feel," Lemons said.