Wayne Braddy - Ohio Innocence Project

Wayne Braddy served 23 years in prison with friend and co-defendant, Karl Willis, after being wrongfully convicted of the murder of a 13-year-old boy on January 7, 2000. The two maintained their innocence since their arrests in 1998.

No evidence linked Wayne or Karl to the crime other than the incentivized confession of an individual named Travis Slaughter. Mr. Slaughter was given a plea deal by the Lucas County Prosecuting Attorney in which Mr. Slaughter resolved the charges against him for murdering the boy and an unrelated rape case in exchange for his testimony implicating Wayne and Karl.

OIP Professor of Clinical Law Jennifer Paschen Bergeron and her teams of students worked tirelessly for 15 years on Wayne and Karl’s case. Despite many successes in developing this case, Karl and Wayne remained imprisoned.

In 2019, Toledo news station WTOL 11 reported extensively about the case against Karl and Wayne. WTOL 11’s investigation by an outstanding reporter, Brian Dugger, led to a subsequent award-winning special report, “Guilty Without Proof,” that brought increased public awareness about the case.

In March of 2023, Wayne and Karl faced an incredibly difficult decision after their motions requesting a new trial had been denied and on appeal. Rather than gamble with the possibility of a court of appeals denying another chance of freedom and spending the rest of their days behind bars for a crime they did not commit, Wayne and Karl decided to take a plea deal offered to them by the Lucas County Prosecutor’s Office. This plea deal allowed the two to make Alford pleas to lesser offenses of murder and allow them to walk as free men.

Karl and Wayne now reside in Northwest Ohio and are working toward their true freedom. They have reunited with loved ones and family and celebrate their freedom each day. WTOL 11’s article following their first day of freedom in 23 years can be found here. WTOL 11’s interview of Wayne and Karl on their time adjusting to life as free men can be found here.