Photo credit Ann Hermes
On May 19, 1975, Harry Franks was murdered outside a corner store in Cleveland. In the crowd that gathered around the body, a 12-year-old boy named Eddie Vernon stepped forward and said he’d seen the murder and knew who had done it. That lie led to the arrest of 17-year-old Ricky Jackson and two of his friends, who were tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. More than three decades later, Vernon stepped forward again to tell the truth and free them. By then Jackson had spent 39 years behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit, the longest sentence of an exonerated person in American history. After he was released, he met Vernon and forgave him. I wrote a cover story about the two men for The Christian Science Monitor.