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Wrongly Convicted Man Receives $ 25,000, Wisconsin Claims Board Says

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

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

Police found Payne’s body behind an abandoned house in Milwaukee in August 1995. Investigators arrested Hadaway and Chaunte Ott in death, based in part 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 Hadaway told him that Ott tried to rob Payne and killed her because she had no money. Hadaway and Gwin both testified against Ott.

Hadaway was convicted of attempted theft and sentenced to five years. Ott was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to life.

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Gwin and Hadaway then retracted. In 2002, the Wisconsin Innocence Project ordered new DNA tests on semen taken from Payne’s body. The results obliterated Ott and Hadaway, pointing instead to Milwaukee Water serial killer Ellis, who 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 Commission in 2010. He also won a $ 6.5 million settlement from the city of Milwaukee.