COLUMBUS, Ohio — After nearly 20 years behind bars, Ralph Blaine Smith will be awarded $1.3 million from the state of Ohio in compensation.
Smith served more than two decades behind bars out of a 67-year sentence. He was released in 2021.
Smith told 10TV that it’s the little things that he’s missed, like getting his own food, and wearing the clothes he wants.
"It's little things like that…that mean the world to you. This means a lot just to be free,” he said.
Smith said he was accused of being one of two Black men committing a home robbery in Pickerington on Feb. 2, 2000.
Smith said he was the only person that was charged. He spent years at the Marion Correctional Institution.
Smith knew he was innocent and just needed to find a way to prove it. He said he then went to the law library within the prison to figure out a way.
"I couldn't take another minute of being in there. I had many times like that. I was like if another minute goes by, I’m going to go crazy and lose my mind,” said Smith.
In 2020, he sent a letter to Joseph Landusky, a defense attorney.
"When I read about his case and started getting into it, I really believed that a crime didn't even happen in this case,” said Landusky.
He said another judge in Fairfield County granted a new trial in 2021 because there was evidence that was withheld by prosecutors in the first trial.
Landusky said another prosecutor, that wasn’t on the first trial, decided to drop all the charges rather than conduct a second trial.
"There's no amount of money that anybody would take to do 20 years in prison,” said Landusky. “But it eases things a little bit and there's no other way to measure damages.”
Smith said he knows there are so many other people who are behind bars with similar stories as his.
"I'm always grateful, and blessed that I made it out,” said Smith.
He said he wants to get into advocating for those who don’t have a voice. Landusky said they’re filing a federal lawsuit next.