Man who spent 20 years in prison declared wrongfully imprisoned

Roger Dean Gillispie had to pause to gather himself Thursday as he began to choke up while speaking at a court proceeding he’s fought more than 30 years to have.

Gillispie, who was first convicted of rape in 1991 but who maintained his innocence, was released from prison in 2011 after having the conviction against him vacated and was declared a wrongfully imprisoned individual after suing the state.

A hearing was held on Thursday where he was read his rights as a wrongfully imprisoned person by Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Susan Solle and he was given the opportunity to speak in a courtroom full of his friends, family and supporters.

“I like to thank my family and friends, my advisors, the Ohio Innocence Project and the many others for their belief in me and the dedication to seek the truth over the last 31 years,” Gillispie said before taking a pause. “I’m also standing here to represent others, others that I personally know, others that are in this fight to seek their truth. To show that the system with patience, lots of patience, works.”

He said he has no ill feelings toward the victims in the case in which he was convicted and that he wishes them peace.

Gillispie of Fairborn was indicted in 1990 for the rapes and kidnappings of three women in two attacks in Miami Twp. and Harrison Twp. He was convicted twice following jury trials and was sentenced to 22 to 56 years in prison.

In 2008, he filed a motion for a new trial arguing that there was new evidence including identification of an alternate suspect and he argued that there were police reports that possibly eliminated him as a suspect which were never turned over by prosecutors. Two detectives stated that they investigated and eliminated Gillispie as a suspect prior to a new detective taking over the case.

Gillispie’s attorneys argued that a psychological profile of the likely perpetrator had been developed by police but disregarded. They also said a victim reported seeing the pants size of the perpetrator and it did not match the size of pants that Gillispie would have worn; that the tip against Gillispie came from someone with a vendetta against him; and that Gillispie did not match the physical description of the perpetrator.

Eventually, Gillispie’s convictions were vacated in 2011 and he was released from prison. In 2015, a judge issued a decision dismissing the case with prejudice. That decision was upheld by the appeals court.

Solle read Gillispie his rights during the hearing on Thursday and addressed him after doing so.

“Mr. Gillispie, I can’t even imagine what the last 30 years have been like for you,” Solle said.

“Hopefully today will take you into the next and final chapter of this nightmare that has been your life for the past 30 years and the next part will be a lot smoother and a lot quicker,” the judge said.

The ruling by Solle now allows Gillispie to seek monetary relief in the Court of Claims. His attorney, Michele Berry Godsey, said that Gillispie does plan on filing a claim and it will be a multi-million dollar lawsuit.

But, Gillispie said the money will never be enough to get back what should have been the best years of his life that he was wrongly forced to live in prison for.

“There’s not enough, if they said $5 billion, nobody’s taking $5 billion for 31 years but they don’t know if they are going to get out or not,” Gillispie said. “Nobody’s taking that. The money is irrelevant. It’s about showing that we were right. The money is just to help me survive and help my family — my family is buried in debt from this...”

“The money doesn’t fix me, it doesn’t fix the lost time. It doesn’t fix the mental anguish and the PTSD that I got from this. It doesn’t do a thing for it.”

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