Board to consider $25K for man wrongfully convicted in 1995

The state Claims Board is set to consider awarding $25,000 to a man wrongfully convicted in a 1995 homicide that was later connected to a Milwaukee serial killer.

Sam Hadaway is seeking the maximum compensation for a wrongful conviction under Wisconsin law. The board is scheduled to meet in a closed session on April 20 to consider his claim.

Police discovered the body of 16-year-old runaway Jessica Payne behind an abandoned house in Milwaukee in August 1995. She had been sexually assaulted and her throat was slashed.

Police arrested Hadaway and Chauntee Ott in connection with the death, based partly on statements from a third man, Richard Gwin.

He told police that the three of them drove Payne to an abandoned house where Hadaway and Ott got out with Payne, and Hadaway came back alone. Gwin said Hadaway told him that Ott had tried to rob Payne and killed her because she had no money. Both Hadaway and Gwin testified against Ott.

Hadaway was convicted of attempted robbery and sentenced five years. Ott was convicted of homicide and sentenced to life.

Both Gwin and Hadaway later recanted their statements.

In 2002, the Wisconsin Innocence Project forced new DNA testing of semen collected from Payne's body. The tests results cleared both Ott and Hadaway, pointing instead to Milwaukee serial killer, Walter Ellis, who had raped and strangled at least seven women in Milwaukee between 1986 and 2007.

Prosecutors dropped the case against Ott in 2009. He spent 13 years in prison and won $25,000 from the claims board and a $6.5 million settlement from the city of Milwaukee.

Prosecutors dropped the case against Hadaway in 2018.


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