CLEVELAND (WJW) – A man convicted of killing his roommate walked out of the Cuyahoga County Jail in Ohio Thursday after being given a new trial – on his arm was the dead man’s sister.
It marked the latest turn in a 30-year fight for justice, and it’s also become a love story.
John Tiedjen walked out of jail on Thursday with a chance to clear his name after spending more than three decades behind bars for murder. It was a moment he thought would never come.
“First of all, I want to thank God, of course. And, my attorney,” Tiedjen said.
A judge sent Tiedjen away for 18 years to life after his conviction.
But, last month, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Dick Ambrose granted him a new trial saying investigators withheld evidence.
Now, Tiedjen is under house arrest and he plans to marry the sister of the man police say he killed.
“Against all odds,” Tiedjen said when asked how such a relationship was possible. “God put us together.”
“He asked me to marry him on New Year’s Eve, and I said, ‘Yes,'” recalled Crystal Strauss, his fiancée. “The type of connection we have, people are not going to understand.”
Cuyahoga County prosecutors have argued that 30 years ago, they convicted the right guy. They even wrote up an appeal more than a 1,000 pages long outlining the evidence. But, again, a judge ruled the trial was unfair.
While the court fight started decades ago, the release from behind bars is a new beginning. Prosecutors said Tiedjan gave conflicting stories about the killing. He has repeatedly said he didn’t do it.
Late Thursday, he talked about what he wants to do now. Tiedjen said he wants to start a business. He’s concerned about his retirement.
Court records show one appeal by prosecutors has been denied.