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‘Life snatched from him:’ The Innocence Project

EUCLID — David Rawls says he will not admit to something he didn’t do. If he would just do that, he probably would be a free man.

Rawls was convicted of aggravated robbery and kidnapping in 1997. Police and prosecutors say he robbed a Marc’s Discount Drug Store in Euclid at gunpoint in June 1996. Rawls, who’s been in prison since 1997, always maintained he was his innocent.

The main evidence against him: Store employees picked his picture out of a photo lineup and positively identified him at trial.

There was no physical evidence linking Rawls to the crimes, no surveillance video, no DNA, no fingerprints. And evidence that could be tested today for DNA has been lost or tossed, according to lawyers who work for the Innocence Project, which has taken Rawls case and is working to get him released from prison.

FAMILY WON’T GIVE UP

Rawls’ aunt, Florine Jones, said she is desperate for her nephew’s release.

“David’s life has been snatched from him because of a mistake of identity,” Jones said. “His story needs to be told.”

Rawls is the only child of Jones’ older sister, who is 75. Jones said she has no grandchildren.

“His mom has exhausted every penny she had. She sold her house just to prove his innocence with no prevail,” Jones said. “Twenty-three years of his life has been snatched away from her, and it has really taken a toll.”

Jones said her nephew’s case has been in the hands of the Ohio Innocence Project for more than five years, but he’s no closer to being released.

The men in the lineup photos police showed witnesses all “look like they could be his brothers,” Jones said, and the robber was 6-foot tall while Rawls is only 5-foot, 10-inches. There is no video surveillance of the robbery.

“The person who had a gun was right-handed,” Jones said. “David’s left-handed.”

HOLES IN CASE

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