Man wrongfully convicted awarded $25K, Wisconsin Claims Board decides

The Wisconsin Claims Board announced Monday that it will award $25,000 to a man wrongfully convicted in a 1995 homicide later connected to a Milwaukee serial killer.

Sam Hadaway was seeking the maximum compensation for a wrongful conviction under state law. The Claims Board said he was clearly innocent in 16-year-old runaway Jessica Payne's death.

Police found Payne's body behind an abandoned house in Milwaukee in August 1995. Investigators arrested Hadaway and Chaunte Ott in 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. Hadaway, Ott and Payne got out but Hadaway came back alone. Gwin said that Hadaway told him Ott 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 to five years. Ott was convicted of homicide and sentenced to life.

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Both Gwin and Hadaway later recanted. In 2002, the Wisconsin Innocence Project forced new DNA testing of semen collected from Payne’s body. The results cleared both Ott and Hadaway, pointing instead to Milwaukee serial killer Water 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 in 2010. He also won a $6.5 million settlement from the city of Milwaukee.

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