Wrongfully imprisoned: Man who spent 20 years in prison to get hearing Thursday

"Almost civilized to barbaric," Roger 'Dean' Gillispie on 20 years in prison
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"Almost civilized to barbaric," Roger 'Dean' Gillispie on 20 years in prison

A Fairborn man who was imprisoned for more than 20 years for rape is expected to be declared a “wrongfully imprisoned individual” Thursday by a Montgomery County judge.

Roger “Dean” Gillispie, who was first convicted of rape in 1991 but who maintained his innocence, was released from prison in 2011 and sued the state in 2019 asking the court to declare him wrongfully imprisoned.

The designation would allow him to seek monetary relief in the Court of Claims, according to court records.

On Thursday, Gillispie is expected to be in Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Susan Solle’s courtroom in downtown Dayton where he will be read his rights as a wrongfully imprisoned individual after she granted him a summary judgment last month.

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“It’s a very big deal,” his attorney, Michele Berry Godsey told the Dayton Daily News. “He’s been fighting the case for 30 years and won it outright 10 years ago but he’s been fighting all that time to be declared innocent by the state of Ohio and given the opportunity to sue for damages against the state.”

“More so, the personal vindication to hear the words out loud by a judge when for so many years he has had the exact opposite experience. It is very very important and means the world to him,” she said.

Gillispie was indicted in 1990 for the rapes and kidnappings of three women in two attacks in Miami Twp. and Harrison Twp. He was convicted on Feb. 12, 1991, following a jury trial. The court granted a second trial, at which he was again convicted on June 12, 1991.

Explore“Almost civilized to barbaric,” Roger “Dean” Gillispie on 20 years in prison for rapes and kidnappings he did not commit

From there, a number of appeals were filed by Gillispie and denied. But 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.

According to a ruling by Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Susan Solle, two detectives stated that they investigated and eliminated Gillispie as a suspect prior to a new detective taking over the case.

Gillispie’s defense also argued that a psychological profile of the likely perpetrator had been developed by police but disregarded, a victim reported seeing the pants size of the perpetrator and it did not match the size of pants that Mr. Gillipie 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 and a new trial was granted. He was also released from prison. And Solle wrote that in November 2015, a judge issued a decision dismissing the case with prejudice.

“The trial court found that Mr. Gillispie could never be retried because the state admitted they did not possess and could not produce the missing police reports,” Solle wrote. “The state appealed the trial’s court’s decision and the second district upheld the trial court’s decision on Nov. 10, 2016.”

The judge wrote that the Ohio Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

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