Health & Medicine

Milwaukee would pay $7.5M settlement in bite-mark case

A man wrongly imprisoned for 24 years for the killing of a woman will receive a $7.5 million settlement from the City of Milwaukee.

Robert Lee Stinson, now 54, agreed to settle his claims against the city and one of its former police detectives for an initial payment of $3.5 million in August and $4 million in January, under a resolution before the Common Council.

The settlement was reached during a jury trial over Stinson's claims that detectives and dentists conspired to frame him in his neighbor's homicide using bogus bite-mark evidence, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Thursday.

"Mr. Stinson waited a very long time for this trial — 34 years since his arrest and nearly 10 years since filing his civil rights lawsuit seeking redress for his wrongful conviction," said Heather Lewis Donnell, one of his attorneys.

City officials "don't' want to deny the impact" that the ordeal had on Stinson and his family, Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton said. The Common Council next meets July 30.

Stinson was 20 years old when he was convicted of first-degree murder in 1985 in the beating death of 62-year-old Ione Cychosz of Milwaukee and sentenced to life in prison. He was freed in 2009 after the Wisconsin Innocence Project found experts who rejected the dentists' conclusions that a bite mark on the victim was left by Stinson. He sued that year.

In 2017, the full 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Stinson can sue, reversing an earlier decision by a three-judge panel of the court. The case went to trial in federal court last month. Just before closing arguments in the civil case, the parties announced a settlement but declined comment.

In 2010, DNA from the victim's body led to a different suspect, who was charged in 2012 and ultimately confessed to the 1984 killing of Cychosz.

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