A Cincinnati man is suing the city's police department for suppressing DNA evidence that proved his innocence, keeping him in jail on murder charges when he could have been free.
Joshua Maxton's federal lawsuit alleges the department violated his constitutional rights, and may indicate more widespread suppression of DNA evidence by the department.
A news release from his lawyers says Maxon was arrested in June 2015 for the murder of Robin Pearl in North Avondale.
During his trial, his attorneys learned police had obtained DNA evidence confirming his innocence and identifying another suspect seven months earlier.
According to his attorneys and the Innocence Project:
Soon after Maxton’s June 2015 arrest, witnesses came forward to identify another person named Donte Foggie as the lone shooter. These eyewitnesses stated that Maxton was not the shooter and that he did not even have a gun. Forensic evidence backed them up when no gunshot residue was found on Maxton’s hands. Over the next few months the case unraveled further: a Big K cola can that had been dropped near the shooter’s position on Burton Avenue was tested for DNA. Maxton’s DNA was not on the can. The police learned in October 2015 that the DNA belonged to Foggie
Records obtained by Maxton’s lawyers and testimony at Maxton’s June 2016 trial made clear that the CPD knew about the DNA evidence. The lead detective on the case, Bill Hilbert, spoke with the DNA analyst on the same day the first DNA report was issued. And the official notification that Foggie’s DNA was on the cola can was emailed by the lab to Det. Hilbert’s supervisor, Sgt. Jeff Gramke. Yet they suppressed the evidence and never told Maxton’s attorneys.
A jury found him not guilty. Maxon was in jail for a year before his trial, facing life in prison if convicted.
Maxton's lawsuit against the police department is slated to go before U.S. District Court Judge Michael Barrett in late 2019.