Lawsuit: Cincinnati police withheld DNA evidence in murder case, kept innocent man jailed

CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati police withheld DNA evidence in a man’s murder case, causing him to remain in jail for months for a crime he did not commit, according to a lawsuit filed Friday. 

Joshua Maxton was charged with murder in the June 2015 shooting death of 18-year-old Robin Pearl. He was acquitted more than a year later, after his defense team uncovered the DNA evidence, the suit says.   

The lawsuit, filed against Detective Bill Hilbert, Sgt. Jeff Gramke and the City of Cincinnati, alleges the defendants knew DNA evidence had excluded Maxton as the shooter because his saliva did not match the saliva found on a soda can at the crime scene.

The saliva matched the DNA of another man, who witnesses described as the shooter, according to the suit. Witnesses described that man wearing different clothes than Maxton and being about 7" or 8" taller than him, according to Jennifer Branch, Maxton's attorney. There have been no other charges in Pearl's death.

“All of this DNA evidence was suppressed by defendants. It was profoundly exculpatory, and defendants knew it,” the lawsuit states.

The Cincinnati Police Department cannot comment on pending litigation, Lt. Steve Saunders said.

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