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CLIFTON, OH (FOX19) -
University of Cincinnati law students are celebrating their second victory in the case of a man wrongly accused of murder.
David Ayers spent 13 years in prison for a murder that DNA testing later proved he did not commit.
In 1999, Ayers was found guilty of killing 76-year-old Dorothy Brown living in a Cleveland public housing project. Brown was found bludgeoned to death in her apartment and naked from the waist down. Ayers was sentenced to life in prison.
The 56-year-old Ayers was released from prison in 2011 after the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati reversed his conviction.
On Friday, a jury awarded $13.2 million to David Ayers for his pain and suffering.
Attorneys with the Ohio Innocence Project introduced DNA evidence vindicating Ayers after 13 years in prison.
The Ohio Innocence Project harnesses students in the University of Cincinnati's College of Law to identify inmates in Ohio prisons who are actually innocent of the crimes they were convicted of committing.
"Its mostly a victory for David today," said Carrie Wood, Assistant Director of the Ohio Innocence Program. "It's not only a vindication of his innocence, but it shows what happens when misconduct happens within our justice system and how someone's life can be impacted."
A federal jury found that two police detectives violated Ayers' civil rights by coercing and falsifying testimony and withholding evidence that pointed to his innocence. There were indications of strong anti-gay violence on the part of the detectives.
"its very unfortunate that David's sexual orientation became a factor for why he was targeted in this particular case especially given the nature of the crime. It was a sexual assault on a 76 year-old woman," continued Wood. "He was obviously not the suspect in this case or should have never been the suspect in this case."
Both detectives in the case retired with full benefits. Wood says the multi-million dollar jury award sends a strong message that flaws in the criminal justice system can not be tolerated.