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Sunday, 09 October 2011 19:00

After five years in prison, case dismissed

Written by  Theresa Freed

LAWRENCE - After spending five years in prison, a case is dismissed against a Lawrence man.

Jason Ellison was convicted of sexual battery, but then granted a new trial. Today, he's a free man.

A KU law student spent years trying to help free Ellison. Back in July, Mike Kelly took the stand, testifying at a motion hearing for the defense. He described for the court the work he did as a law student on the Project for Innocence and Post-Conviction Remedies. "Once I was able to review the file, I had an inkling that something was awary," said Kelly.

Ellison's case was the first one he was assigned back in the fall of 2009. He says he believed almost from the start, Ellison was innocent. The Lawrence man was originally charged with sexual battery. He was later convicted of the crime, and served five years in prison before the Defender Project picked up the case.

In May of 2010, Kelly helped file a motion for a new trial, and the judge granted the request. Then on Friday, the District Attorney's office decided to dismiss the case. Kelly says the man's family played a key role in the outcome. "From the very beginning to the last day, we received all kinds of help and support from his family," said Kelly. "They never lost hope and they never stopped working, which is one of the reasons that we were able to succeed in this case."

Kelly is now working as an attorney in Kansas City. He says this resolution reaffirms his career choice. "It's an amazing feeling to be part of justice being done," said Kelly.

Although the District Attorney is no longer pursuing the case, he had this to say: "We remain confident that the original trial resulted in the right outcome, an outcome that was confirmed by the Court of Appeals. In making a decision not to pursue the case further, we have taken into consideration the amount of time since the crime was committed, the trauma of a retrial to the victim and the fact that the defendant has served a number of years for this offense. For these reasons, we have chosen to dismiss the case."

Ellison's Defense Attorney was unavailable for comment.