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Cuyahoga County prosecutor, Timothy McGinty: Freedom for RuEl Sailor

February 24, 2017

RuEl Sailor was sentenced to life in prison for a crime that he didn’t even witness. There was no physical or DNA evidence linking him to this crime. The man who did commit the crime admitted his guilt and passed a polygraph test stating he himself was guilty of the crime and Ruel was not present when the crime occurred. Ruel also passed a polygraph test based on his innocence. Ruel was convicted on eyewitness testimony from a man who admitted to using PCP drugs right before the crime occurred. This man could not identify Ruel although he was standing right next to the victim. It wasn’t until after trial began that he changed his statement. And another man who couldn’t identify Ruel to Cleveland police directly following the crime did so three months after his original statement. The victim’s own brother is in favor of Ruel’s release.
Please read the facts below giving a detailed description of RuEl’s case.  
1. THE CRIME FOR WHICH RU-EL SAILOR WAS CONVICTED
Sailor was convicted of aggravated murder, murder, firearms specifications, kidnaping, and felonious assault. Sailor was sentenced to 20 years to life on each of counts 1 and 2; 15 years to life on each of counts 3 and 4; 3 years on counts 6, 7,8,10, and 12. Some of these sentences were to be run concurrent, some consecutive. In total, Sailor was sentenced to 28 years to life.
2. THE LOCATION AND FACTS OF THE CRIME
On, November 17, 2002 Omar Clark was shot on Englewood Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio. Prior to the shooting, Omar Clark, Clark Williams, and Nichole Hubbard were playing cards with Maria Whitlow and Ellen Taylor at Taylor’s house. Clark, Williams and Nichole left Taylor’s house to go purchase and smoke a cigarette dipped in PCP. Clark Williams purchased the cigarette with $20 he borrowed from Nichole. Clark, Williams, and Nichole smoked the cigarette. Later, when Nichole dropped Clark and Williams off at Williams’ home on Englewood Avenue, Nichole asked for repayment of the $20. Clark told her he was only going to repay $10 because Nichole shared the PCP cigarette. Nichole became upset. According to Williams, Nichole threatened to call her brother because “y’all got me f—d up.” Nichole called someone and told them that Clark and Lamar were “trying to play her and …and get her f—d up.” She also told the person on the phone that she was on Englewood Road in Cleveland before leaving the scene. The person on the phone was her brother, Cordell Hubbard. According to testimony Cordell and another, alleged to be Sailor, arrived at Englewood Road and argued about the $20. Cordell asked Clark Williams, “what the f–k you say to my sister?” Cordell made a phone called and asked the person on the line, “Nichole, what he got on? A blue Nautica jacket?” While Cordell was arguing with Clark Williams, Omar Clark, who knew Cordell attempted to intervene and break up the fight. Eyewitness Brandon Gibbs testified that at this point the other assailant stepped in and said to Cordell “No, you can’t do this. Omar is family. This is my Cousin’s baby daddy.” Williams observed that the other person, allegedly Sailor, had a handgun so Lamar Williams started running away. Lamar Williams heard numerous shots fired behind him. Three residents of Englewood road witnessed this event. Tenitta Johnson called the police after observing the argument. She testified that she had a good look at the men but could only identify Cordell. Joseph Mayhand heard one of the men say to Clark Williams, “I’m gonna call my sister and if she says this is you, then your ass is out.” Mayhand also observed another man with a gun, he was unable to identify Sailor as that man. Brandon Gibbs saw Clark and Williams arguing with two men he did not know. Larry Braxton, who was with Gibbs, and lives on Englewood, began walking toward the group but turned around when he noticed that one of the men had a gun. Approximately a week later Braxton spoke to the police. While he denies ever telling detectives that the shooter was light skinned, Braxton had previously described the shooter to Umar, the brother of the victim, who told Braxton the description “sounds like Cordell.” Based on Braxton’s testimony where his original description matched Cordell, a light skinned man, it is clear that his account changed in the months after the shooting. Six months later, Braxton picked Sailor out of a line up. Sailor is very dark skinned. Braxton was the only witness to ever identify Sailor to the police. Williams was able to pick Cordell Hubbard out of a photo array. Williams was unable to identify Sailor when he was shown Sailor’s photograph in a police photo array. When Williams testified at an evidentiary hearing, where Sailor sat as a defendant, he was asked whether he could identify anyone else in the courtroom as the shooter, he said that he could not. This crime occurred in November, 2002. Hubbard was indicted in early December 2002. Sailor was not a suspect and was not indicted until many months later, in mid April 2003. His trial was set for May 19, 2003. Sailor had little more than a month to hire a lawyer, investigate the charges, engage in pre-trial litigation, and try the case. Sailor believed he would be found not guilty because he was in fact innocent. Sailor testified on his own behalf that he was with Cordell Hubbard at the Benjamin Bar and that they went together to the 4U2B Bar, where they stayed until 2:00 am before going to a party at St. Aloysius. Sailor, in fact, remained at the 4U2B Bar, while Sizemore and Hubbard went to Englewood when they received a call from Nichole Hubbard. 3. EXPLAINATION OF SAILOR’S INNOCENCE Sailor went out with a few friends on November 17, 2002 at the Benjamin Bar. Sailor, Bobby Nettles, Cordell Hubbard, William Sizemore, Anthony McKenzie, and Ronald Snipe all met up at the 4U2B Bar together. Hubbard received a call from his sister Nichole Hubbard, stating that she was in distress and Hubbard left with William Sizemore to go to Englewood. While at Englewood, Hubbard and Sizemore had an altercation with Clark and Williams which escalated until Hubbard shot Omar Clark. Sailor was not present on the scene. Sailor remained at the 4U2B Bar. This shooting occurred in the early hours of November 17, 2002. Hubbard became a suspect almost immediately and was indicted in December of 2002. Sailor did not become a suspect until Cordell Hubbard’s attorney filed a witness list/ notice of alibi in March of 2003 stating that Hubbard was at the bar with Sailor. Sailor was neither described nor identified by any persons relative to this case until his name became available through Hubbard’s attorney’s filings and Detective Eugene Jones began inquiring about him in the community. Sailor, knowing that he was not present at the scene and believing that he could not be convicted, testified inaccurately, that Hubbard stayed with him at the 4U2B Bar all evening. This testimony by Sailor was untrue. Hubbard did not take the stand. It was not until after both Hubbard and Sailor’s convictions that Hubbard was willing to come forward. After the wrongful conviction of Sailor, Hubbard submitted an affidavit stating that he was the shooter and that Sailor was not present. Within a few weeks of his conviction, Sailor filed a motion for a trial based on newly discovered evidence. At a hearing on the motion, Cordell Hubbard testified that he shot Clark in self-defense and that Sailor had nothing to do with it. He testified that Sailor was not even present. He testified that William Sizemore was with him the night of the shooting. The trial court denied the motion for new trial. Sailor was not convicted on ANY scientific, physical, or forensic evidence whatsoever. Sailor’s conviction was based solely on witness identification by Larry Braxton and Clark Lamar Williams. Both identifications are highly suspect as will be discussed at length in this application. Additionally, other evidence corroborating Sailor’s innocence has come forward. 4. Evidence Supporting Sailors Claim of Innocence A. Sailor’s Polygraph Ru-El Sailor recently passed a polygraph stating that he was not the shooter and was not present during the shooting. On February 23, 2015, Ru-El Sailor voluntarily submitted to a polygraph test performed by Bill Evans of Polytech Associates, Inc., Mr. Evan’s qualifications are embodied in his curriculum vitae, attached as Exhibit 1. Mr. Evans report of his polygraph examination of Ru-El Sailor is attached as Exhibit 2. After conducting a pretest interview, the following relevant questions were asked with the elicited responses indicated; 1. Did you shoot Omar Clark? Answer: No 2. Did you pull the trigger on the gun when Omar Clark was shot? Answer: No 3. Were you there at 105th and Englewood when Omar Clark was shot? Answer: No
Mr. Evan’s reported that after careful review of the polygraphs, and the examination in its entirety, physiological changes indicative of truthfulness (no deception) occurred.
B. Hubbard’s Polygraph Cordell Hubbard passed a polygraph, stating that he was the shooter and that Ru-El Sailor was not present during the shooting. On April 29, 2015 Cordell Hubbard voluntarily submitted to a polygraph test performed by Bill Evans of Polytech Associates, Inc., Mr. Evan’s qualifications are embodied in his curriculum vitae, attached as Exhibit 1. Mr. Evans report of his polygraph examination of Cordell Hubbard is attached as Exhibit 3. After conducting a pretest interview, the following relevant questions were asked with the elicited responses indicated; 1. November 17, 2002 are you the one who shot Omar Clark? Answer: Yes 2. When Omar Clark was shot, was Ru-El Sailor present with you? Answer: No 3. November 17, 2002 did you shoot Omar Clark with you 9mm Glock? Answer: Yes
Mr. Evan’s reported that after careful review of the polygraphs, and the examination in its entirety, physiological changes indicative of truthfulness (no deception) occurred. Mr. Evans contact information is available on Exhibits 1, 2, and 3 if further information is regarding these polygraphs is required.
C. Affidavit of Cordell Hubbard In August of 2003, Cordell Hubbard submitted an affidavit after electing not to testify at trial. A copy of Mr. Hubbard’s affidavit is attached as Exhibit 4. Cordell Hubbard swore in his affidavit, amongst other things, that; 1. He did not testify at trial, but told Sailor after their convictions that he was in fact the shooter and that he caused the death of Omar Clark 2. The person with him that night was “Will” who he now knows his full name to be Will Sizemore. 3. He and Will arrived and left together at 105th and Englewood the night of the shooting. 4. Omar Clark, the decedent, confronted him with a handgun. 5. Will Sizemore told Omar Clark to “put the gun away.” 6. Sizemore told Cordell Hubbard, “Don’t shoot Omar, he is my cousin’s baby daddy!”
Cordell Hubbard, more than 12 years after the submission of this affidavit maintains these facts to be true. Further, he passed a polygraph as to these facts, as previously stated in this application. Mr. Hubbard has submitted to interview’s by Sailor’s counsel and has indicated both willingness to participate in Sailor’s Conviction Integrity Unit application and submit to any interview by the CIU in furtherance of this application. Please note, that Mr. Hubbard is presently represented by attorney, David L. Doughten who can be reached at 216-870-7745.
D. William Sizemore’s Cousin’s Baby’s Daddy As noted above Mr. Hubbard’s affidavit asserts that Sizemore told him that he stated, “don’t shoot, he is my cousin’s baby daddy.” This statement is consistent with other eye witness testimony of what was said by one of the men present the night that Omar Clark was shot. Witness Larry Braxton testifies that he hears Clark state, “No, this is family, you all. This is family, calm down, chill out.” (Transcript of May 19, 2003 evidentiary hearing, page 32, Line 2-4). Though Braxton’s identification of the shooters changes wildly five months after the shooting, his statements about what he heard remain consistent. He states in trial that he hears Clark say, “this is family, yall.” (Trial Transcript, 1047). Additionally, Gibbs testifies that he hears one of the suspects state “Omar is family, he is my cousins baby daddy” (Trial Transcript, Pg 944). This testimony is consistent with Will Sizemore being the other person present with Cordell Hubbard. Will Sizemore has a cousin named Marquetta Sizemore. Will and Marquetta’s mothers are sisters. They are cousins by blood. Marquetta Sizemore has a child fathered by the victim-decedent Omar Clark. Therefore, if William Sizemore were to state, “Don’t shoot, that my cousin baby daddy.” That statement would be factually accurate as Omar Clark was the father to his cousin Marquetta’s child. Umar Clark, brother of decedent can verify the familial relation between Sizemore and Omar Clark. Umar Clark is available to assist in this unit’s investigation.
E. Larry Braxton’s Testimony The witness testimony and identification by Larry Braxton and Clark Lamar Williams are the only evidence ever introduced in this case that link Sailor to this crime. The testimony of both men is highly suspect. Each men make initial descriptions early in the case that are inconsistent with Sailor. Larry Braxton reported to the police the first time that he spoke with them, a week and a half after the shooting, that he saw two light skinned males. He identifies Cordell Hubbard as one of the males, the shooter, when he is first shown a photo array on December 2, 2002. He describes the other male, on December 2, 2002, as having a thin mustache. The police have no other suspect for months. When they determine that Sailor is a suspect, detectives call Braxton into the homicide unit to look at another photo array. Though he had prior described the male as a light skinned, brown man with a light mustache, Braxton inexplicably selects Sailor, a dark skinned man with no facial hair in the photo presented. By the time of his testimony at an evidentiary hearing on May19, 2003, Braxton, now asserts that the second man he identified, Sailor, not Hubbard, was the shooter. Law enforcement relied on a 6 pack photo array system which is no longer the standard of practice. Further, Braxton’s identification is inconsistent with his own description. Finally, given the body of science around eye witness identification, it is unfathomable that a murder conviction could rest on one witnesses photo identification when EVERY OTHER witness presented with a photo array containing a photo of Ru-EL Sailor failed to identify him as one of the present suspects on the scene.
F. Clark Lamar William’s Testimony Clark Lamar Williams initially volunteered the description of the two men as having the same skin tone and looking like brothers. (Trial Transcript 605). Williams also states that the suspects have medium brown skin tone (Trial Transcript 490). Hubbard and Sailor do not have the same skin tone and do not look like brothers. Clark Lamar Williams testifies in the May 19, 2003 evidentiary hearing that he was up close arguing with one individual, while the other individual was on the phone. Soon after the incident, Williams identifies Hubbard in a photo array presented by detectives. He identifies Cordell Hubbard in court on May 19, 2003 as the individual on the phone. He goes on further to testify that he cannot identify the other individual because it was so dark and there were not many street lights. Williams was unable to pick Sailor out of photo array when it was presented to him by detectives in late March 2003. Further, he was unable to identify Sailor in the May 19, 2003 evidentiary hearing when Sailor was already sitting at the defense table, as a co-defendant, next to Cordell Hubbard. At some point after leaving that hearing, Williams, with a long criminal record himself, had a discussion with Detective Veverka about his testimony. By the end of the day on May 19, 2003 he newly identified Sailor as the shooter. He testified in trial that he was certain Sailor was the shooter, after being unable to describe him, nor identify him in photo array, nor identify him in person in court at the defense table. No evidence was ever provided to Sailor’s defense team indicating what conversation, threats, or promises were made to induce Williams to suddenly change his testimony for trial.
 
G. Umar Clark’s Affidavit Umar Clark is the brother of the deceased victim in this case. Umar Clark was contacted by William Sizemore after Hubbard and Sailor were convicted of the Murder of his brother, Omar Clark. Umar Clark’s Affidavit is attached as Exhibit 5. 1. I received a phone call from William Sizemore after Cordell Hubbard and Ru-El Sailor were convicted of murdering my brother. He said that he had to meet with me. He said that he wanted to bring closure to this matter; 2. I met with him a couple days later. He told me that he wanted to let me know what my brother’s last words were. He explained that he “tried like hell to stop this,” Sizemore told me everything that occurred that evening. Sizemore was a few feet away from my brother when he was killed; 3. The name Ru-El Sailor never came up; 4. Sizemore advised me that he asked Cordell why he shot Omar. He reported that Hubbard just had a blank look on his face; 5. I never shared this information with any of Mr. Sailor’s attorneys.
This sworn statement by Umar Clark fully corroborates the facts as presented by Hubbard in his testimony and affidavit. Further, it is supported by the passed polygraphs performed by both Sailor and Hubbard. In the course of this entire case it does not appear that law enforcement, nor any state actor, ever investigated Sizemore regarding his involvement in this case. This information was unavailable to Mr. Sailor and his counsel until 2013. It was used as the basis for a new trial motion, but the trial court denied the motion. Further, the court of appeals argued that it was not new evidence, as it merely corroborated Hubbard’s affidavit and testimony from 2003. Without being given an opportunity for a hearing, Sailor has no opportunity to compel Sizemore to testify. Umar Clark has represented that he is willing to assist and cooperate with the Conviction Integrity Unit’s investigation in any way possible.
H. Bobby Nettles Affidavit Bobby Nettles did not come forward with a statement in this case until 2014 because he was intimidated by police detective Eugene Jones. Though Sailor’s defense counsel contacted Nettles contemporaneously with his trial he declined to provide any information as the police warned that “things would be really bad for him.” Nettles provided a statement in February of 2014. In his statement, he swears;
1. On November 16, 2002 I met up with Ruel Sailor at approximately 3pm. 2. As best as I can recall, we met up at his mother’s house; we drove around and “hungout”; 3. We arrived at Benjamin’s Bar at approximately 10:30 p.m.; We remained at the bar until approximately 12:30 a.m. 4. Thereafter, we went to Four U 2B, a club in Cleveland; We remained there until closing time; 5. Ruel was with me from the mid-afternoon hours of November 16, 2002 until the early morning hours of November 17, 2002; 6. Detective Eugene Jones told my mother that if I testified on behalf of Ruel, “it would be really bad”; on two other occasions he has told me that if I help Ruel “things will be really bad for you”; 7. I interpreted this to mean that he would file unfounded criminal charges against me; 8. I learned of the incident the following morning when a friend advised me.
Nettles affidavit is attached as Exhibit 6. Nettles statement not only shows police misconduct in the handling of this case but provides substantive evidence that Sailor was present with Nettles until the close of the 4U2B and did not leave the bar with Hubbard.
I. Affidavit of Ronald Snipe In September, 2014, Ronald Snipe, provided a statement regarding this case. His affidavit is attached as Exhibit 7. He swears in his affidavit that. 1. On November 16, 2002 I met up with Ruel Sailor, William Sizemore, and Cordell Hubbard; 2. We went to some clubs in the evening; When we left the club 4U2B I overheard Cordell in a heated argument with someone; 3. Cordell and Will were driving together; 4. Ruel was in his own vehicle; 5. I was likewise in my own vehicle. I was following Cordell and Will. I got stopped in traffic and I lost sight of them for a period of time. 6. I called the cell phone of Cordell. I was speaking with Will because I was trying to locate them. 7. I did not arrive at the murder scene until after the shooting. I called Cordell. He told me to get out of the neighborhood. 8. Cordell and Will were driving together the night of the murder.
Though Sailor informed his counsel that Mr. Snipe was present the night of the murder and may have important information pertaining to the murder, Snipe was never contacted by Sailor’s trial counsel. Snipe’s statement is consistent with Hubbard’s statement and testimony.
J. Conclusion Sailor was convicted on the identification of only two eye witnesses. This is particularly compelling given that other witnesses were wholly unable to identify Sailor as being one of the two men present. Of the two who identified him in trial, Williams is particularly suspect given that he was unable to identify Sailor in the photo array or in an evidentiary hearing day before trial. Sailor’s case went to trial barely a month after his indictment. The prosecutor presented no DNA evidence, no fingerprint evidence, no shoe print analysis, no blood splatter analysis, no recovered gun….no physical or forensic evidence whatsoever. Now, 13 years after the commission of this crime, Sailor remains in prison. His motions for post-conviction relief have been summarily dismissed. The court determined that Hubbard’s testimony was unreliable and any evidence gathered since that time is not new evidence because it merely corroborates the evidence included in Hubbard’s affidavit. It’s a snare, which prohibits serious consideration of new evidence without allowing the new evidence to support the affidavit which was unreliable. In light of the new affidavits, particularly by Umar Clark, Hubbard’s affidavit is not unreliable. Additionally, Sailor’s claim has been denied consideration by organizations like the Innocence Project because it does not contain physical or scientific evidence. Where no physical or scientific evidence was gathered or presented to convict him, he cannot be expected to be able to refute that conviction on scientific evidence. Accordingly, Sailor, by and through counsel, respectfully requests that this board accept his application for review and conduct a meaningful investigation into his claim of innocence.
Please sign this petition so that Ruel does not spend another day in prison for a crime that he did NOT commit!
Please help reunite Ruel with his Family! It is long over due!
 

Source: www.change.org

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