Wrongfully-Convicted Man Recovers $13.2 Million After 13 years In Prison Posted on January 2, 2015 by Sally Nyemba The US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a jury’s verdict awarding David Ayers $13.2 million, after he spent 13 years in prison due to a wrongful murder conviction based on erroneous evidence. A grand jury indicted David Ayers in March 2000 in the killing of 76-year old Dorothy Brown. At the time of her death, Ayers was a security guard for the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA). On the day of Brown’s death, approximately 13 hours prior, a neighbor or Ayers and Brown’s had entered her apartment to assist her because she had fallen and could not get up. At approximately 2:45 pm, Brown was found murdered in her apartment by Sarah Harris, a fellow resident at Brown’s apartment complex. Jailhouse witness Detectives Michael Cipo and Denise Kovach investigated Brown’s murder. They began their investigation with their focus on a suspect who had previously been arrested for a sex offense in the greater Cleveland area. However, after the hunt for the sex offender failed, they turned their attention to Ayers. After multiple interrogations by Cipo and Kovach, Ayers was arrested and indicted by a grand jury. After days of delaying trial after a jury had already been empaneled, the state disclosed that they would be calling jailhouse informant Donald Hutchinson (Ayers’s jail-pod mate) as a witness. Hutchinson had been in contact with Cipo and Kovach and informed them of his willingness to testify. In a report prepared by both detectives, they mentioned that they did meet with Hutchinson, however, that Hutchinson failed to provide details about the weapon or the amount of money that was taken from Brown’s apartment. Cipo and Kovach returned Hutchinson to his jail-pod, and instructed him to obtain information about the weapon and amount of money. Hutchinson returned to the pod, and began to “directly question Ayers about both details.” At trial Hutchinson testified that Ayers confessed to him in detail that he did in fact murder and rob Brown. The jury voted to convict. Sixth Amendment right to counsel Ayers appealed. After having his appeals denied several times, in January 2004 Ayers filed a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The Sixth Circuit found that the government violated Ayers’ Sixth Amendment right to counsel by “intentionally creat[ing] a situation likely to induce Ayers to make incriminating statements without assistance of counsel when it returned Hutchinson to Ayers’s jail pod and he thereafter deliberately elicited information from Ayers.” The court provided the state with two options, (1) they had 180 days for a new trial or (2) to release Ayers, the state elected to release Ayers. Upon being released, Ayers brought a civil rights lawsuits against the City of Cleveland, and detectives Cipo and Kovach. Ayers “alleged, amongst other things, a Brady violation and malicious prosecution.” Cipo and Kovach moved for summary judgment on qualified immunity grounds however, the court denied their motion and proceeded to trial. At trial, the jury found in favor of Ayers and awarded him more than $13 million in damages. Cipo and Kovach appealed the denial of their summary judgment, arguing that they acted in good faith and that they had probable cause. However, the courty denied their motion finding that Ayers had met his burden, and that he had provided the court with sufficient evidence to support his claim that both detectives violated his Sixth Amendment right to counsel. The case is David Ayers v. City of Cleveland (Defendant), Michael Cipo and Denise Kovach (Defendants- Appellants), No. 13-3413.