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Man Wrongfully Convicted of 1987 Murder Receives $28M Settlement

Legal gavel on top of a pile of money.

After decades of insisting its police officers arrested the right man in a 1987 stabbing death, the city of Newport has settled a wrongful conviction case with William Virgil’s family for a record-setting pretrial amount of $28 million.

The figure represents $1 million for every year Virgil spent in prison for the stabbing death of 54-year-old Retha Welch, a Newport grandmother and prison minister killed in her apartment. The case was featured in season 2 of The Enquirer’s podcast “Accused.” This is the second defendant highlighted in Accused with a recent legal victory: Last week, the Ohio First District Court of Appeals denied Hamilton County prosecutors’ efforts to reverse a judge’s decision granting a new trial to Elwood Jones, who served nearly three decades on Ohio’s death row.

Unlike Jones, Virgil didn’t live long enough to enjoy his latest legal victory. He died in January 2022 in a Cincinnati hotel room, where he’d stayed the night before a medical checkup just shy of his 70th birthday. He hadn’t felt well since his release from prison.


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