Man Freed From Prison Files Suit, Claims Former County Toxicologist Made Up Evidence
Benjamin Uselton is now a free man after a story that 10 Investigates reported, and now he’s brought a civil lawsuit against the former Franklin County toxicologist, claiming he made up evidence.
Uselton was sent to prison based on questionable testimony from the discredited toxicologist.
Uselton’s problems started when he sold two friends the anti-depressant Xanax, and they died in a car crash hours later. He never denied he made a mistake by selling the pills.
What he couldn't understand was the homicide charge against him.
An autopsy revealed cocaine and marijuana in the victims' bloodstreams but no Xanax.
So, the Ashland county prosecutor sent the case to the chief toxicologist for the Franklin County Coroner, James Ferguson.
Ferguson testified that he found Xanax in the blood even though Dr. Amanda Jenkins could not.
That’s important because Jenkins wrote a key article in the book that Ferguson relied on for his findings.
Years passed and Ferguson was convicted for lying about the year he received his degree from the Ohio State.
Then 10 Investigates went to work and discovered Ferguson had failed required classes, didn't have enough credits to graduate, and nobody form OSU could explain how he ever got a degree.
10 Investigates also found Ferguson was a key witness against Uselton.
“I was put in prison basically on Ferguson's testimony. And there's a chance he did not have the credentials to say what he said. That means everything,” said Uselton.
It was enough to get Uselton out of prison.
Shortly after the investigation aired on WBNS-10TV, Gov. Ted Strickland commuted Uselton’s sentence. His conviction stood, but he was able to get out early.
The new lawsuit notes the 10 investigates story and goes on to that Ferguson of “knowingly procured and/or manufactured the false report and other evidence” used to convict Uselton.
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said in these sorts of cases, the county relies on a Supreme Court decision that keeps convicts from suing unless they get their conviction overturned.
“We would file a motion to dismiss saying they can't file the lawsuit,” O’Brien said.
That could mean yet another disappointing day in court for a man who claims he's already suffered too many.
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November 22, 2010: Investigation Finds More Apparent Deceptions By Toxicologist
November 17, 2010: Woman Says She Was Wrongly Convicted
September 30, 2010: College Degree By Former Expert Witness Comes Into Question
May 13, 2010: Former Toxicologist Sentenced For Lying About Credentials
April 28, 2010: Testimony Of Key Witness Calls Murder Conviction Into Question