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Freed Murder Suspect asks State Claims Board for $25K

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (WTAQ) - A freed murder suspect in Milwaukee has asked the State Claims Board for $25,000. Chaunte Ott says it would help make up for the 13 years he wrongfully spent in prison for the slaying of 15-year-old Jessica Payne in 1994.

A judge dropped Ott’s murder conviction in 2008. And prosecutors declined to re-file charges after the DNA of alleged serial killer Walter Ellis was found on Payne’s body.

The Claims Board held a hearing Wednesday on the compensation request, but did not immediately act on it. Board chairman Steve Means wondered if the request was premature. He asked if it could have waited until Ellis was convicted, or somebody else was found guilty in Payne’s murder.

But John Pray of the Wisconsin Innocence Project said he doubted that authorities are looking for another suspect. And while $25,000 is the maximum for a wrongful death, Pray said Ott deserves more – and the Innocence Project at UW-Madison should also be compensated for the time it spent on the case.

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