Eric Brunner - Ohio Innocence Project
Eric Brunner served 13 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of rape and attempted rape of two women in 1996 in Canton, Ohio. DNA evidence was gathered at the time, but the sample was insufficient to provide a result when Eric was convicted in 2005.
Eric was released on parole in 2009, but during the years following his release, he enjoyed little freedom. Eric was forced to register as a sex offender for a crime he did not commit, was unable to find gainful employment and safe housing, and was physically assaulted and beaten, sustaining permanent injuries. You can learn more about Eric’s experiences here: here and here
In 2019, OIP Professor of Clinical Law Brian C. Howe and his student teams successfully argued for DNA testing of evidence secured at the time of the crime. Advances in DNA technology now allowed for testing of the evidence and that testing established that Eric was not the source of the DNA found from the perpetrator of the crimes. Professor Howe then moved for a new trial based on that evidence. After a significant delay, the Stark County Common Pleas Court granted that motion in 2021. Eric awaits retrial on those charges.
Despite a horrific ordeal, Eric now thrives. He was accepted into a prestigious culinary program in Cleveland, where he is successfully advancing, and now lives in the safety and warmth of the Exoneree Home in Northeast Ohio, created by OIP Board of Advocates member Raymond Towler, who spent 30 years in prison before being exonerated of those crimes.