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Jury Finds Timothy Howard Innocent in 1970s Crime

Timothy Howard's nearly 30 year fight ended with the jury's verdict.

Howard pounded his fists on the table, jumped up and raised his armed in celebration. Three decades after being sentenced to death, six of eight jurors determined Howard proved he was not involved in a bank guard's murder or the robbery at a Near East Side bank. Howard, who's been proclaiming his innocence from the start, said when you tell the truth, justice will eventually come about.

"You have to be patient. I've been patient all this time and unfortunately this happened to me. But it paid off. This is justice. We got good people," Howard said.

One of Howard's attorneys, James Owen, who became a little emotional during opening statements, said he's just delighted this day finally came for his client.

"I first met him in March of 1997, it was clear for me from day one that he was an innocent man wrongfully convicted. And I told him that we would never let this go. And we haven't. And Rick Katchem and I have stood by him, and he's stood by us. And I'm just proud of Tim," Owen said.

While Howard said he was confident the jury would find in his favor, Owen was a little concerned when deliberations ran into a second day.

"I was worried it would be a hung jury. I knew that if the verdict, if the jury came back it had to be in our favor. I did not think it was reasonably possible they could vote for the state," Owen said.

While waiting for the verdict Howard spoke about how he was able to stay focused on his innocence, and not become bitter about spending half of his life behind bars for a crime he says he did not commit.

"I'm, I'm a Christian and so God will take care of all my burdens. And that hate, hate doesn't get you anywhere. So, like I said it's not up to me to judge anybody. So I just tell the truth and try to move forward," Howard said.

The state's attorneys left the courtroom without comment and did not respond to a request for an interview. The state attempted to show Howard was one of the men who committed the crimes in 1976 by calling several witnesses including a teller who there when the robbery took place.

This verdict now allows Howard to file an application of compensation with the Ohio Court of Claims. Howard said money is not the issue, so he will have to discuss that decision little more with his attorneys. Right now, though, he said he plans to soak up the realization that his work trying to prove his innocence finally paid off.

"It was a personal battle and I got caught up in something that I had nothing to do with. And, uh, it's 30 years later and it's just now getting straightened out. So I'm going to just take this and move forward. That's what I'm going to do," Howard said.