Civil suit against Norwalk dismissed

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Lynanne Vucovich, Norwalk Reflector, Ohio
·2 min read
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Apr. 8—NORWALK — A civil suit against the city of Norwalk and police officers has been dismissed.

Civil action was filed against the city and members of the police department claiming misconduct during an investigation and trial from a 40-year-old murder.

In 1993, Jim Parsons was charged and convicted of the Feb. 12, 1981, murder of his wife, Barbara Parsons. Parsons spent 23 years in prison.

Barbara, 41, died in the bedroom of her Sycamore Drive home after someone wielding a large, heavy object beat her 15 times in the head. Parsons has claimed he was away from his home that day, working at his auto-repair business.

The murder charge was filed against Parsons in 1993 based on evidence authorities resubmitted to state crime analysts. Months later, after a two-week trial with 21 witnesses, a jury spent four hours deliberating before finding Parsons guilty of one count of murder. He was sentenced to 15 years to life.

The Ohio Innocence Project took on Parsons' case and his conviction was overturned in 2016.

Parsons, 79, died in February 2017, before a new trial was set.

"The Innocence Project, on behalf of the children of Mrs. Parsons and her husband, filed a civil action against the city, along with members of the police department, along with members of Bureau of Criminal Investigation, claiming misconduct on the part of all in terms of the investigation and trial," said Stu O'Hara, law director.

The Innocence Project works to exonerate those who are wrongly convicted by using DNA testing and criminal justice reform. The Ohio Innocence Project at Cincinnati Law began in 2003 and is now one of the top-performing groups of the Innocence Network.

"Ultimately, her husband was tried and convicted of the murder. After 25 years in prison, the Innocence Project came around and was able to secure a new trial for him and he was released from prison, pending a new trial," O'Hara said. "Unfortunately, he did pass away before that trial could take place."

During city council's Tuesday meeting, O'Hara said the court recently dismissed the case after it was pending for over a year.

"I'm pleased to announce that just recently, the court has dismissed both the city and the detectives who were involved," O'Hara said. "There is no longer any case pending against the city."