Renowned Journalist Carol Costello Discusses Ohio Innocence Project Findings: DNA Match Confirms Identity of Convicted Man
Esteemed journalist and former CNN and HLN anchor Carol Costello navigates the emotional complexities of the 1984 Phyllis Cottle case, expressing anger and bewilderment as the Ohio Innocence Project (OPI) challenges the conviction. In her latest podcast series, Carol Costello Presents: Blind Rage, Costello revisits the brutal attack in Akron, Ohio, and the subsequential conviction of Samuel J. Herring for charges including kidnapping, rape, aggravated robbery, felonious sexual assault, aggravated arson, and attempted murder.
In the podcast’s latest episodes, "Update: The Unthinkable" and "Update: DNA Results | 'I'm a Gun Man,'" Costello presents the irrefutable details outlined by Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh. Forensic scientists have established a conclusive 1 in 1-trillion match, linking the DNA found on Phyllis Cottle's clothing to Herring. This revelation directly contradicts OIP's claims and validates the police, prosecutors, and jury's initial conviction.
The podcast addresses Herring's persistent denial of guilt, his letters to Phyllis from prison, and his repeated proclamations of innocence before the parole board over the past 39 years. He told Phyllis she would “burn in hell,” because she locked him up.
Criminologist Casey Jordan, featured in the podcast, sheds light on the phenomenon of self-brainwashing, known as pseudologia fantastica, explaining how some individuals convince themselves of a new truth, even to the point of passing lie detector tests. "It's as if every day he wakes up and it's Groundhog Day for him,” Jordan told Costello. “He doesn't believe he did it. He has no memory of doing it. He has blocked it from his memory. He feels no remorse because he just says he didn't do it.”
Phyllis’ family never doubted that Herring was guilty; They’ve long fought to keep him behind bars. They’re relieved it’s over but warned the Ohio Innocence Project and the media who partnered with the non-profit. Saying, “We would also like to ask the Innocence Project/Marshall Project to vet any future cases more carefully and with better due diligence. We hope with a better due diligence, both Projects, as well as Cleveland’s News Channel 5, will keep in mind that their actions affect others in ways that they may not realize or understand, including, but not limited to, the victim's families. The Innocence Project should not be the reason why victims of crimes are afraid to come forward.”
In the wake of these revelations, Carol Costello remains committed to providing a platform for the exploration of complex true-crime narratives and their implications for the justice system. Tune into Carol Costello Presents: Blind Rage on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your preferred platform. The podcast continues its dedication to unraveling the intricate facets of the Herring case in forthcoming episodes. For additional insights into the podcast’s research and a written forum, visit Carol Costello Presents. Stay updated by following her on Facebook and Instagram.
Carol Costello currently serves as a Special Advisor and Ambassador at Loyola Marymount University (LMU). In her role at LMU, Carol teaches a broadcast journalism course within the university's journalism program. Additionally, she is the creator of Project Citizen, a program established in 2019 at LMU, providing resources and mentorship for student journalists with a core mission to bridge the partisan divide in the country.
With a distinguished career spanning three decades, Carol's commitment to journalism extends to her contributions to the journalism professional advisory board at Kent State University in Ohio, where she mentors journalism students. Her work at LMU reflects her dedication to fostering journalistic talent and addressing societal challenges through educational initiatives.
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Note: Given the sensitive nature of the subject, we urge journalists to approach this coverage with empathy and consideration for all parties involved.