Marty Levingston-Ohio Innocence Project

Marty Levingston served 15 years in prison for a murder he did not commit.

In December 2008, a man was murdered, and others injured, when shooters opened fire at an apartment complex in Cincinnati. Despite his insistence that he was innocent of those crimes, Marty was convicted of murder, felonious assault and tampering with evidence. He was sentenced to 23 years to life in prison.

The government’s case against Marty suggested that he was one of two shooters who committed the crimes, and that he had been identified by a witness who knew him from the apartment complex. At trial, that witness doubted her identification of Marty.

Jailhouse informant (“snitch”) testimony also played a role in the conviction. An inmate at the Hamilton County Justice Center claimed that Marty confessed to the murder to him. Identifications of this nature frequently happen in the criminal legal system, and often those who provide such testimony receive favorable treatment in pending cases or reduced time in prison.

Prosecutors approached Mr. Levingston with an offer to plead to lesser included offenses and leave prison. Marty Levingston faced the impossible decision of deciding between a gamble on what an appellate court might rule and spending the rest of his days behind bars as an innocent man if he lost the appeal, or a guarantee of freedom obtained only by pleading guilty to a crime he did not commit. Marty chose freedom–a choice that was taken away from him for all these years. Key to his decision was his desire to return to his loving and supportive family, and to rebuild his own life with them.

In February of 2023, Marty returned home to that loving family and had his first steak dinner in over 15 years. In his freedom, Marty has not only reunited with his family but also returned to the workforce, married the love of his life, and been home to welcome his latest grandchild.