My name is Jeffrey Braun and I appreciate you taking the time to read this about my case.
I wish to say from the off I am not seeking any pity but by sharing my story of my “Wrongful Conviction” I am seeking justice for not only myself and my family but also the victim John Chappell and his family.
I would ask you to read this with an open mind and be non judgemental, I am the first one to admit I have made bad choices and mistakes in my life but regardless of my actions outside this case I deserve the same rights, protection and justice as the next man.
I was wrongly convicted and held accountable for a crime I did not commit, I do not claim to be an Angel by any stretch of the imagination but I do believe that no one deserves to have there life taken from them be it by incarceration or acts of violence.
In 2005, John Shears, Roy Fitzer and I, began a friendship that was based on our mutual addiction to drugs and alcohol.
All three of us have been in and out of jails since we were youths and we were all well known in the criminal circles in the Cleveland, Ohio area.
We were known not only as drug users but also as dealers and hustlers and towards the end of 2005 as thieves with violent tendencies these things I do not contest in fact I am the first to admit to it.
Over a period of several months the three of us committed numerous robberies of drug dealers, because at that point in time our lives revolved around the procuring and use of drugs, and as we became more well known people began to tie us into a lot of the violent crimes around our area and they claimed we were involved in more robberies and shootings than we ever did.
But this kind of notoriety brought us to the attention of the police so any illegal or violent activity either real or fictitious made us the focus of detectives on the west side of our city.
John Shears, Roy Fitzer and I became the focus of the police attempt to clear the crimes and this focus was enthused by numerous petty criminals and drug addicts making deals to get out and to expedite this system of release our names were thrown into the mix.
It has been proven on more than one occasion that Cleveland police and the Cuyahoga county prosecutor’s office led by William Mason will quickly rely on hearsay and informant information in order to seal a conviction and consideration would be given.
In late October things came to a conclusion when Roy Fitzer and I entered the apartment of Tom McDonald seeking a return on the money for some bogus drugs that we had purchased from him.
A struggle ensued between McDonald and Fitzer which ended in McDonald being shot 3 times by the gun that Fitzer had pulled, we both then fled the scene and within a few days both myself and Fitzer were arrested Shears fled and became a fugitive because he entered Florida were he was arrested 2 weeks later.
At the time of our arrest myself and Fitzer were held and questioned by Cleveland police Homicide Unit, they claimed we were responsible for several unsolved homicides and robberies on the West Side of Cleveland including the murders of John Chappell and unknown female who was found dead in an abandoned house and also the robbery and murder that occurred at the Peanut bar.
At this time I had informed Detectives that I had no idea why I was a suspect but as they were so adamant that I was a suspect and I knew I was not I was willing to take my chance in court thinking I would get a fair and just trial.
Unknown to me at the time, Fitzer had made numerous statements in which he admitted the shooting of McDonald, but he also claimed that he had knowledge that I had been the person to kill Chappell.
In his earlier statements he claimed that he had gotten the gun in which he used to shoot McDonald from me and that I told him we had to get rid of the gun because it had a body on it.
There is further information contained in the Fitzer signed confessions which to this day have never been shared by Cleveland police Dept or the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Brent Kervil whom handled both of these cases.
Shears and I went to trial on the charges of Robbery and attempted Murder of Tom McDonald whilst Fitzer opted to trial separately or that is what we believed at the time.
At the end of the trial the Court ruled there was insufficient evidence against Shears so he was acquitted on all charges, however unknown to myself or my defence team Shears attorneys had attempted to make a Proffered Plea Deal in which Shears claimed to have had knowledge of the murder of John Chappell and that I was the person who did it.
This Proffered Deal has never been brought forward however mention of it was brought by the Prosecution in seeking its indictment of me for the murder of Chappell.
At the conclusion of the trial for the shooting of McDonald the jury found me guilty of having helped Fitzer and sentenced me to serve 21 years and from there I was sent to serve my time in the state of Ohio Penal system.
Two years after the arrest of myself, Fitzer and Shears the Prosecution then brought forward the charges for the murder of John Chappell against myself and John Shears, with the Death Penalty Specification.
I was granted representation of two lawyers John P. Parker and John Gibbons both from the Cleveland Ohio area.
During the lengthy pre-trial allocated time in which the State and my defence were given to prepare for the trial it had became evident that not only had Fitzer and Shears made statements claiming I had been the one to murder John Chappell and the Cleveland Police and Prosecutor Kirvel actively sought out felons to make statements against me, were in actual fact the entire states case was based upon Hearsay Evidence and not one single piece of material evidence or forensic evidence has ever been brought forward that can suggest I killed John Chappell.
There is no DNA evidence, eye witness testimony or anything only the word of already convicted felons who are just out to help themselves but nothing solid to link me to this case.
Yet after 121 hours of trial time, I was found guilty of Aggravated Murder and the Aggravated Robbery of John Chappell.
I was given a Mitigation Hearing so the jury could decide if I deserved the Death Penalty or not, the jury decided and I was given the sentence of Life without Parole for a murder that I absolutely had no part in.
Approximately one year and one half after my conviction I received a letter from Roy Fitzer in which he admitted that not only had he lied and tried to make a deal but he also had recanted his lies at the time of my trial and at no time did the Prosecution provide my defence team with the information that Fitzer refused to testify for them, in actual fact they had the trial postponed on the day Fitzer was supposed to Testify and had the court sign an order for his immediate return to the prison system thus rendering him unavailable to contact anyone.
Once this information was brought to my attention, I immediately contacted the Ohio Public Defenders office and they filed a motion for a new trial based on the newly discovered evidence.
As a point of note I had an alibi for the night of the murder and that the state claimed that during my trial that anyone who testified on my behalf had did so to lie, even though they lying for me would be of no benefit to them unlike most of the States witnesses.
After a hearing held in the trial court the judge denied the motion for a new trial without giving any reason.
On appeal to the Appellate courts they confirmed the judge’s decision further stating that Fitzers testimony was a lie simply because Fitzer was serving what amounted to a life sentence.
I have copies of the trial transcripts and am willing to make them available to anyone who wishes to view them.
It should be noted that Fitzer gave evidence that would only be known to the person who committed the crime and that the State claimed there was no evidence to back up Fitzers story.
I am not asking that the reader of this believe that I am some innocent person that was picked up for nothing, I have as previously stated done a lot of wrong in my life and that I have to live with, however I do not deserve to spend the rest of my life in prison for a crime that I did not commit.
I am hoping by sharing my story that someone with knowledge of the law can help me seek the justice I deserve.
NO ONE DESERVES TO BE WRONGFULLY IMPRISONED FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIFE.
I thank you again for taking time to read this and if you wish to know more or ask any question which I will answer I can be contacted at the following address Jeff Braun # 504477 Trumbull Correctional Facility, 5701 Burnett Road, P.O. Box 901, Leavittsburg, Ohio Oh 4430-0901. Or www.J-pay.com