Columbus Dispatch

Timothy Howard’s $2.5 million wrongful incarceration settlement, including monthly payments spread over 30 years, has been approved by the Ohio Court of Claims.

Howard, 52, of Columbus, will get the state money as payback for 26 years he spent in prison for a 1976 East Side bank robbery and murder he didn’t commit.

The payment must be approved by the state Controlling Board, a bipartisan legislative oversight panel, possibly at the July 10 meeting. The money will come from a state emergency fund.

It is the largest wrongful incarceration settlement in Ohio history, more than double the $1.075 million paid this year to Clarence Elkins. The Summit County man was cleared when DNA results showed another man killed his mother-in-law in 1998.

Howard was released from prison in 2003, and earlier this year a jury in Franklin County Common Pleas Court found him “actually innocent” of the old crime. That opened the door for his financial claim.

The settlement includes three parts:

$1,438,243 paid to James D. Owen, Howard’s primary attorney. Howard will receive more than half of the money, with the remainder going for attorney fees and investigative costs.

$527,757 paid into an annuity fund with monthly payments to Howard of $3,000 for 15 years. Reduced payments would be made over the next 15 years.

$534,000 in a second annuity, also paying $3,000 monthly for 15 years, with reduced payments thereafter.

Howard could not be reached for comment. The annuities were requested by his attorneys.

Gary Lamar James, 53, the second Columbus man convicted for the 1976 bank robbery and murder, is scheduled to go to court in November seeking his own “actual innocence” verdict so he, too, can file a financial claim.

Like Howard, James was released in 2003 based on evidence unavailable or withheld at trial in 1977.

James has said he’s looking forward to a settlement although no amount of money would make up for more than two decades he spent in prison.
“They really did a job on me, on my life,” he said.

Both Howard and James were sentenced to death, but their punishment was commuted to life in prison when Ohio’s capital punishment law was ruled unconstitutional.