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Ohio man cleared of murder after 39 years in jail to get $1 million payment

Ricky Jackson, 57, leaves the courthouse in Cleveland, Ohio, November 21, 2014. REUTEReuters

(Reuters) - AnOhioman freed last year after spending 39 years in jail for a murder he did not commit will receive more than $1 million from the state for his wrongful imprisonment, court records show.

AnOhio Court of Claimsjudge on Thursday ordered that just over $1 million be paid toRicky Jackson, the longest-held U.S. prisoner to be cleared of a crime.

"Wow, I didn't know that," Jackson told theClevelandPlain Dealer, which said he learnt of the payment from a journalist.

"Wow, wow, wow, that's fantastic, man. I don't even know what to say. This is going to mean so much," he said.

Jackson was convicted along withWiley Bridgemanand Bridgeman's brother,Kwame Ajamu, for the 1975 murder ofHarold Franks, a money order salesman in theClevelandarea, after a 12-year-old boy testified he saw the attack, court papers show.

The boy,Eddie Vernon, recanted his testimony years later, and told authorities he had never actually witnessed the crime. There was no other evidence linking Jackson to the killing.

Other witnesses confirmed the then-teenaged Jackson was on a school bus at the time of the killing. He had originally been sentenced to death but escaped because of a paperwork error.

Bridgeman was freed soon after Jackson, after the charges were dismissed last November. Although Bridgeman had first been freed in 2002, he was imprisoned again for a probation violation, defense attorneys said.

AClevelandjudge in December dropped all charges against Ajamu, who spent 27 years in jail before having his death sentence commuted and being freed in 2003.

The 39 years Jackson spent in jail was the longest time a prisoner had been held before being exonerated, theOhioInnocence Project, which provided legal counsel to Jackson, and the National Registry of Exonerations said.

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