Joe D'Ambrosio of Cleveland to be retried in murder of Tony Klann D'Ambrosio convicted of murder in 1989
Wednesday, October 01, 2008 Leila Atassi Plain Dealer Reporter
A Cleveland man who has spent nearly two decades on death row for a crime he says he did not commit will receive a new trial by early March.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason on Tuesday complied with a court order to retry Joe D'Ambrosio or set him free. D'Ambrosio was convicted in 1989 in the murder of 19-year-old Tony Klann.
A federal appeals court in June agreed with a ruling made in 2006 by U.S. District Judge Kate O'Malley that D'Ambrosio is entitled to a new trial because prosecutors withheld several pieces of evidence that could have exonerated him.
The prosecutor also could have filed another appeal or petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case. But Mason said the evidence is strong enough to garner another conviction - even two decades after the crime.
"Trying to resurrect a case that is 20 years old has inherent difficulties in recollecting evidence and tracking down witnesses," Mason said. "But we have five people who saw D'Ambrosio with a butcher knife pointed at Klann that night."
Klann was found dead in Doan Brook, with a slashed throat and multiple stab wounds to the chest.
The state's only witness to the murder, co-defendant Eddie Espinoza, testified during the trial that he and two other men took Klann to Doan Brook. Co-defendant Thomas Keenan slit Klann's throat and pushed him into the creek. Klann begged for his life and tried to escape, but D'Ambrosio caught him and killed him, Espinoza testified. The men had kidnapped Klann because they suspected one of his friends, Paul Lewis, had stolen drugs from them.
After Klann's body was found, Lewis pointed investigators to the three men, who worked together landscaping. But Lewis faced charges for raping Klann's roommate, and Klann was the only witness subpoenaed to testify against Lewis.
Lewis' potential motive to kill Klann was among 10 pieces of evidence that prosecutors withheld from D'Ambrosio's lawyer. Also, defense attorneys were not told that the two homicide detectives investigating the case believed Klann was killed elsewhere and then dumped in Doan Brook. This theory contradicts the testimony of Espinoza, who served a reduced sentence - 12 years - in exchange for testifying.
The appeals court agreed with O'Malley that D'Ambrosio probably would not have been found guilty if the evidence had been turned over.
Death Row inmate granted new trial Prosecutor held back key evidence about 1988 killing Wednesday, October 1, 2008 By Leila Atassi The Plain Dealer A Cleveland man who has spent nearly two decades on ... more
Prosecutor to retry Joe D'Ambrosio, who spent 20 years on death row Posted by Leila Atassi September 30, 2008 Categories: Breaking News, Crime Lynn Ischay/Plain Dealer photo file Joe D'Ambrosio or... more
Former death row inmate Joe D'Ambrosio released on bond (video) Posted by Leila Atassi/Plain Dealer Reporter March 04, 2009 13:36PM CLEVELAND — Former death row inmate Joe D'Ambrosio walked out of... more
These men amaze me they really do,They are sent to Death Row maintaining there innocence then after serving year they are released when indeed its proven they are innocent,and there is no ANGER from... more
Murder charge dismissed in case of Ohio man once on death row, judges say prosecutors erred javohcle March 6, 2010 CLEVELAND (AP) — A former Ohio death row inmate is now a free man after a judge... more
OH: Joe D'Ambrosio of Cleveland to be retried... Petra,Thu Oct 2 16:49