CINCINNATI – The jurors who convicted Tyra Patterson of murder and robbery decades ago now say that was a mistake, her attorney says.
A diverse group of religious leaders and other supporters are also speaking out on Patterson's behalf, convinced that she was innocent. After 21 years in prison, they are hoping that she can be freed in a matter of weeks.
"We must free Tyra and bring her home," supporters said Friday as Catholics, Jews, Muslims and Protestants stood hand-in-hand praying for Patterson.
At 19, Patterson got mixed up with the wrong crowd. It was 1994, Dayton, Ohio. Patterson watched four people rob five women in a parked car. She tried to stop it but left the scene and picked up a stolen bracelet. She heard a shot, ran home and called 911.
The jurors never heard about the 911 call until recently, when her attorney, David Singleton, played it for them.
"They listed to the 911 tape and said, 'Oh, my goodness. We never would have convicted her had we heard her call for 911 assistance,'" Singleton said.
Patterson's 43-year sentence was reduced to 16 years, but a request for parole was denied in 2011. A bid for clemency was also rejected.
Patterson has handled those disappointments with strength and spirit, her attorney said.
"She told me, 'It's OK. I've been punched before and I figured out a way to keep going,'" Singleton said.
"That kept me going."
A sixth-grade dropout, Patterson passed her GED on the fifth try and studied to become a paralegal.
Rev. Troy Jackson said he visited Patterson behind bars and came away truly moved.
"I felt like I was encountering the Lord. There's such a light in her spirit," Jackson said.
Her spirit was shared at the interfaith prayer service.
"The transformation that people are able to go through from a point of hate and ignorance to a point of light and justice -- may our prayers be heard,'' said Shakila Ahmad.
"We will not truly be human until we are free and we will not be truly free until every human being is free," said Rabbi Abie Ingber.
"Please, in Jesus' name, she's suffered enough. Let her be free," said Pastor Rousseau O'Neal.
Patterson's supporters are hoping that Gov. John Kasich will grant her clemency by the end of the year.
Kasich's office got the clemency request March 27 and spokesman Joe Andrews says decisions typically take up to 18 months.