MSP: WAYNE CO. PROS. KYM WORTHY KNEW DAVONTAE SANFORD WAS INNOCENT FOR 8 YEARS, NOT 8 MOS.

Video above by Detroit Free Press

Full report by Michigan State Police shows Worthy cover-up likely started from date she brought false charges against 14-year-old Sanford in 2007 

Is local media covering up for Worthy? Detroit News article blames her only for 8-month delay in disclosure of Tolbert testimony 

Should Sanford case be Worthy’s Waterloo? Should she, others be charged with obstruction of justice and malfeasance in public office? 

By Diane Bukowski 

June 22, 2016 

Updated June 25, 2015

Should Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy be charged for false prosecution of Davontae Sanford?

Should Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, DPD be charged for false prosecution of Davontae Sanford, nearly nine horrific years in prison?

DETROIT – Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy knew virtually from day one that charges against 14-year-old Davontae Sanford for four murders on Runyon Street on Detroit’s east side in 2007 were bogus, according to the full 117-page Michigan State Police (MSP) report on the case.

(See link to Michigan Public Radio story which includes a link to the full MSP report, below this story.)

The report contradicts a June 20 Detroit News story by George Hunter which blamed the prosecutor’s office only for an eight-month delay in Worthy’s disclosure of a statement by former Detroit police deputy chief James Tolbert to the MSP. Tolbert told the MSP in 2014 that he lied when he said Sanford drew a sketch of the house where the killings occurred.

Michigan AG Bill Schuette.

Michigan AG Bill Schuette.

The Detroit News editorial board, however, has since called for an investigation by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette of the conduct of both the prosecutor’s office and Detroit police in this case, and also for a federal civil rights investigation.

However, given that Schuette along with Worthy has been a fervent advocate of juvenile life without parole, despite two U.S. Supreme Court decisions declaring it unconstitutional, it is questionable how effective his investigation would be.

Hunter has now also  revealed that the charges against Sanford have not yet been formally dismissed, as his trial judge Brian Sullivan reviews yet more evidence. That may explain why Worthy concentrated on the evidence against Sanford, and not on the confession and culpability of Vincent Smothers, during her June 9 press conference.

State troopers at Worthy's side during June 9 press conference; they did not comment.

State trooper, APA Timothy Chambers, who handled court appeals in Sanford case, and Jason Williams, chief of Worthy’s appellate division, at Worthy’s side during June 9 press conference; they did not comment.

“The MSP unearthed new information not available to us at the time this case was charged, not available at the time of trial and subsequent guilty plea on the second day of trial, or at the time of prior post-conviction litigation that took place over a two-year period,” Worthy said at the conference. “This new information undermines Sanford’s confession and plea, so we agreed to vacate his confession and dismiss the case, 20 days ago, not 9 years ago.”

She also said, “There is a perception out there that we had the signed, cogent confession of Vincent Smothers. This case was never about Vincent Smothers. Interviews and affidavits including those of Smothers are not evidence. We do not agree to set aside guilty pleas based an anything other than evidence. . . . There was never any testimony from Vincent Smothers. He made several statements about the Runyon St. murders, the first in 2008, which was vague and devoid of any real facts.”

But the MSP report is largely based on the Detroit Police Department’s production and review of evidence immediately after the Runyon street murders in 2007. It says the description two eyewitnesses gave of the killers did not comport with Sanford’s height and age, and questions why Detroit police never further investigated Vincent Smothers’ confession to the murders two weeks after Sanford went to prison in 2008, among other factors.

Channel 7's farewell card to Bill Proctor on his retirement after 33 years.

Channel 7’s farewell card to Bill Proctor on his retirement after 33 years.

“We revealed the misconduct of the Detroit Police Department (DPD) way back when this happened,” former Channel 7 news reporter Bill Proctor told Channel 7 after Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Brian Sullivan reportedly vacated all charges against Sanford and ordered his immediate release from prison on June 8, 2016. That was nearly nine years from the date Worthy charged Sanford, on Sept. 23, 2007.

“And the fact of the matter is the Prosecutor’s Office, Kym Worthy, has known for years of the real statements coming from the confessed hitman, in fact she structured out a deal for him to essentially send him off to prison without including this case,” Proctor continued. “She has known for years.”

Proctor referred to hitman Vincent Smothers’ confession to Detroit police on May 6, 2008 that he and an accomplice carried out the murders. Proctor later told VOD that Worthy and the DPD had “orchestrated” the entire prosecution of Sanford.

The full MSP report points out numerous discrepancies in initial DPD reports on the case, which should have been noted not only by Detroit police but by Worthy. It also says that Smothers’ confession, which Worthy said was “not evidence” and undetailed during her press conference, was in fact credible.

SIGNIFICANT ISSUES IN MSP REPORT:

Vincent Smothers, held at Michigan Reformatory in Ionia.

Vincent Smothers, held at Michigan Reformatory in Ionia.

WITNESS STATEMENTS DESCRIBE TALLER, OLDER MAN THAN SANFORD

  1. Key witness Valerie Glover, who hid under a bed and survived the shootings, gave a written statement to police Sept. 18, 2007.“Glover described the subject as a black male, no more than thirty to thirty-thirty five years old with a soft voice. Glover further described the subject as approximately 6’ to 6’1” tall with a slim build,” says the report.Worthy said during her press conference that Glover identified Sanford’s voice in court although he did not fit the description she gave.
  2. Neighbor Jesse King, who engaged in a shoot-out with the killers, “described the first subject as being 5’11”-6,’ brown-skinned, slim medium build, dark clothes . . . He advised the initial subject was carrying a long gun. King described the second subject as slightly shorter than the first with the same build and complexion. He advised that the subject was carrying a handgun.” His written statement is dated Sept. 18, 2007.

Later MSP Investigator’s Note: “Sgt. Russell documents Sanford’s height and weight on the statement form as 5’5” and 155 lbs. Further, Cary Daily AKA ‘Cary’ is listed on the report as 5’07” in height and 140 lbs. in weight. Both subjects are substantially shorter in comparison to the description of the suspects provided by Jesse King and Valerie Glover. Additionally, there is no indication in the report of any firearms being recovered in the ‘AT&T lot’ or anywhere near the scene.” (Sanford said in the first of two confessions that he and his accomplices had thrown their weapons into an AT&T parking lot.)

WORTHY DID NOT CHARGE SANFORD’S ALLEGED “ACCOMPLICES”

In two confessions, typewritten by police investigators, Sanford claimed he had several accomplices in the Runyon Street killings. Antonio Langston, who Sanford called “Tone Tone,” Angelo Gardner, called “Los,” Cary Dailey, called “Cary,” and Santo Green were interviewed by police. Sanford later gave nicknames for other individuals, but police were not able to identify them or confirm that they even existed. Worthy referred only to the second set of alleged accomplices during her press conference.

Worthy said at press conference these were the factors in her decision to charge Sanford. They are all disputed in the MSP report.

Worthy said at press conference these were the factors in her decision to charge Sanford. They are all disputed in the MSP report.

The MSP reports that Detroit Police took what they called an alibi statement for Langston and Gardner from Lacreasha Vinson, dated Sept. 19, 2007. She said she was with Gardner working on his hair from about 9 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. Langston told police he was with Gardner at the home of Kenita Noilbrok while Gardner was getting his “hair done” by “another female.”

Nevertheless, it says, “On September 20, 2007, the Detroit Police Department submitted a warrant request for Davontae Sanford, Antonio Langston, Deangelo Gardner, and Santo Green. Only Davontae Sanford was charged by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, charges were denied for the other three suspects. Sanford was charged with four counts of first degree premeditated murder, one count of assault with intent to murder, one count of robbery armed and one count of felony firearm arising out of the robbery and murders that occurred at [Runyon] street. Angelo Gardner, Antonio Langston, Cary Dailey and Santo Green were not charged by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.”

WORTHY FIRST ASKED MSP INTO SANFORD CASE TO INVESTIGATE ALIBI WITNESS WILLIAM RICE FOR PERJURY

Former Detroit homicide chief WIlliam Rice after sentencing; he was charged after testifying on behalf of Sanford.

Former Detroit homicide chief WIlliam Rice after sentencing; Worthy charged him after he testified on behalf of Sanford.

Worthy boasted during her press conference that it was she who asked the MSP to conduct an investigation of the entire Sanford case on May 4, 2015 after a motion for relief from judgment was filed in front of Judge Sullivan.

She said, “On May 4 (2015), I requested MSP undertake an investigation into the Davontae Sanford case. We made that request. Nobody else. We did.”

She referred hurriedly to the MSP’s earlier perjury investigation of alibi witness William Rice, former Detroit homicide chief, but did not indicate that she had in fact requested that investigation.

State police Detective Sgt. Christopher Corriveau wrote in the MSP report that it first became involved in the case when Worthy asked the MSP to investigate former DPD Homicide Chief William Rice for perjury in post-conviction proceedings in the Sanford case. The MSP was already investigating him on charges related to mortgage fraud brought by the Prosecutor’s Mortgage Deed Fraud Task Force, and by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Rice had testified during a post-conviction hearing in front of Judge Brian Sullivan that Davontae Sanford was with him at his aunt Cheryl Sanford’s house during the time of the killings, until early the next morning. The report says Rice characterized Cheryl Sanford as his “significant other.”

Taminko Sanford-Tilmon, Davontae's mother (l) and Mertilla Jones, grandmother of AIyana Jones, killed by DPD at the age of 7, held joint rally demanding justice for Aiyana and freedom for Davontae and Aiyana's father Charles Jones June 23, 2012. Jones was convicted of first-degree murder on charges based largely on jail-house witness statements.

Taminko Sanford-Tilmon, Davontae’s mother (l) and Mertilla Jones, grandmother of Aiyana Jones, killed by DPD at the age of 7, held joint rally demanding justice for Aiyana and freedom for Davontae and Aiyana’s father Charles Jones June 23, 2012. Jones was convicted of first-degree murder on charges brought by Worthy’s office based largely on jail-house “snitch” statements.

Worthy called this a “perjured alibi” during her press conference, based on cell phone tower evidence called questionable by defense attorney Kim McGinnis during the hearings. An appeals court later overturned Judge Sullivan’s decision in a scathing denunciation of how the case had been handled.

Worthy ignored DPD records of other statements corroborating Rice’s testimony directly after the killings. The MSP report says Sanford’s mother and uncle Taminko and Nathaniel Sanford told police Rice had driven them, Sanford, and Sanford’s two sisters to Cheryl Sanford’s house for dinner around 9:30 p.m. and did not return until early the next morning. Sanford also told officers who encountered him outside his house that night that his “uncle” Bill Rice had just dropped him off.

Worthy charged Rice with two counts of perjury in the Sanford case, and numerous counts regarding a mortgage fraud case, drug-dealing and other matters. Rice pled guilty in a plea bargain to the Sanford perjury counts and to one count of operating a criminal enterprise in the mortgage fraud case. He was sentenced by Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Gregory Bill  to 2-20 years in the Michigan Department of Corrections on the various counts, apparently running concurrently.

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Gregory Bill

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Gregory Bill

Cheryl Sanford was charged in the mortgage fraud case as a co-defendant, and sentenced to five years probation, one to be served in jail, also in a plea bargain. Detroit’s Channel 4 News reported that Rice would likely be out of prison in two years.

The Sanford perjury case and the mortgage fraud cases are listed separately in court records, but Channel 4 reported that Judge Bill sentenced Rice in both cases at the same time, apparently as part of a package deal. Considering that these cases were completely separate matters, it appears odd that Rice and Cheryl Sanford would have been sentenced for both before Bill on the same day, Feb. 22, 2012.

See: http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/defenders/bill-rice-sentenced-for-corruption-in-Detroit

MSP EXTENDED ITS INVESTIGATION AFTER SMOTHERS INTERVIEW

Corriveau says that the MSP extended their investigation after interviewing Vincent Smothers, who had confessed to the Runyon Street killings. The MSP report indicates that they had already been looking into a series of murders the admitted hit man had confessed to.

MSP badge“During the investigation of William Rice for perjury, I interviewed several people, including Vincent Smothers, who were pertinent to the original investigation of the homicides that occurred on Runyon Street,” Corriveau wrote. “As a result of my review of the DPD investigation and the related events involving Vincent Smothers, I determined that a more in depth investigation would be appropriate. In late April of 2015, D/F/Lt. Furlong and I met with representatives of the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and requested that the investigation into the homicides that occurred at 19741 Runyon Street . . .be re-opened.”

Worthy did subsequently author a letter dated May 5, 2015, asking the MSP to investigate, but she did not, as she said during her press conference, initiate the investigation.

AMMUNITION AT SCENE INCONSISTENT WITH SANFORD STATEMENT

Slide of some of shell casings; MSP report says they did not match ammo that would have come from gun Sanford described.

Slide of some of shell casings; MSP report says they did not match ammo that would have come from gun Sanford described.

During his guilty plea statement at his two-day trial, and in his written confessions Sanford claimed he fired a “Mini 14 rifle” into the Runyon Street house.

An Investigator’s note in the MSP report says,  “[T]he commercially available Mini 14 rifle is a semi-automatic carbine that fires a Remington .223. or alternatively a 5.56 mm cartridge. Neither of these types of rounds were recovered.from the scene).  

The MSP report says Detroit police reported recovering 13 Wolf brand 7.62 x 39 mm cartridge cases and six Federal brand 7.62 x 39 mm cases at the scene. These were consistent with the use of either one or two AK-47’s. After Smothers’ confession to DPD on May 8, 2008, the DPD identified a gun taken from Michael Robinson, one of the Runyon Street murder victims, as the same gun with which Smothers later killed Rose Cobb, wife of Detroit Police officer David Cobb.

Worthy said during her press conference that Sanford later referred to an “AK,” but it is not clear at what point this allegedly happened. The report notes police found other discrepancies in Sanford’s description of the weapons he and his alleged accomplices carried.

REPORT OF K-9 TRACK 

Worthy said during her press conference that the DPD K-9 unit dog stopped directly in front of the residence of Davontae Sanford at 19770 Beland because the dog lost an unspecified scent. She did not describe the entire incident. The track stopped when Detroit Sgt. Michael Russell, who was following the track, happened on Davontae, a 14-year-old child on the street near his house in his pajamas.

Google

Google map showing Runyon and Beland street addresses.

According to the MSP report, DPD Officer Chris Salisbury said after the shootings in a written report that “he made contact with Sgt. Bill Hart who informed him the suspects involved in the shooting were observed by witnesses running northwest across a field towards E. State Fair. Officer Salisbury and he and his K-9 began a track northwest across a field towards E. State Fair. He continued tracking westbound on E. State Fair along the curb across Teppert Street to a vacant field just before Beland. Officer Salisbury then tracked across the vacant field towards Beland and then tracked southbound on Beland along the sidewalk. Officer Salisbury continued tracking southbound on Beland and stopped at the drive of 19770 Beland. At that point the track was terminated.”

A report by Investigator Dale Collins explains why the track was terminated.

Detroit police Sgt. Michael Russell is featured in this photo on the website for the infamous “First 48,” which stressed solving homicides in 48 hours. Aiyana Jones’ killer Joseph Weekley was also a “First 48” star. The MSP report notes that Russell, who testified in Davontae’s case, did not keep written reports of his actions.

It says Collins “followed the K-9 track with Sgt. Russell and while conducting a canvass of the area on Beland, he observed Sgt. Russell speaking with Davontae Sanford. Collins stated that he then made contact with Sanford who informed him that he had been dropped off earlier that day by his Uncle Bill. Collins advised that he asked ‘Bill who?’ and Sanford responded that it was Bill Rice. Collins informed Sanford that he knew Bill Rice and he (Sanford) needed to help the police.”

On July 13, 2010, Collins told the MSP, “I called Bill Rice and I asked him—or I told him that we were working on a triple homicide and that we were talking to a young fellow. And this guy said that he had been dropped off by Bill. And I asked Bill, I said well—Bill asked me well, what’s his name? And I told Bill his name is Davontae. He said, well, yes, that’s Cheryl’s nephew, that he had dropped him off over there. He also said that he was a young—he’s about 14 or 15 years old, and he’s a street guy. Anything out in the street he knew about. So if he tells you something, you can believe it.”

Diagram Tolbert testified Sanford had made of house, in Russells

Diagram Tolbert testified Sanford had made of house, in Russell’s presence. Tolbert later said he had done the diagram while Davontae placed the bodies.

The report continues shortly, “Collins then stated that he, Sgt. Russell and Commander James Tolbert drove Sanford around in Tolbert’s vehicle. Collins stated that Sanford then pointed out several locations where people sell guns and gave them general information about the neighborhood.”

The report says they drove around for several hours, contradicting court testimony that Davontae was first interviewed at DPD headquarters.

The report adds that Russell and other officers were present during Sanford’s interrogation later, while he allegedly drew the Runyon house diagram. The MSP has asked for perjury charges against Tolbert, but none against Russell or others.

MSP ARREST OF SMOTHERS AND PAYNE IN MAY 2007 

The report also says, “It should be noted that on May 21, 2007, prior to the homicides that occurred at 19741 Runyon, Leroy Payne was arrested with Vincent Smothers by Michigan State Police Troopers while traveling to Chicago. Two pistols were located in that vehicle.”

Leroy Payne, who Smothers said had hired him for many of his hits, under drug kingpin Delano Thomas, now deceased.

There is no record of this arrest or any subsequent proceedings on the MSP “ICHAT” record for Vincent Smothers. There is however a record for Leroy Payne for the arrest in Berrien County, with subsequent adjudication of a plea deal for “attempted firearms possession of loaded firearm in or upon a vehicle.” Payne was originally charged with possession of a firearm by a felon and carrying a concealed weapon. His only other charges listed were drug possession felonies from the 1990’s. He is currently being held in custody in Georgia, according to the MDOC website.

Worthy has not even attempted to investigate and prosecute Payne for hiring Smothers to commit the Runyon Street killings.

DPD, WORTHY’S FAILURE TO FOLLOW UP ON SMOTHERS’ CONFESSION

An MSP investigator says in the report, “I reviewed all of the above referenced reports relating to the investigation of Vincent Smothers and the investigation of the homicides that occurred at 19741 Runyon. During that review I could not locate any documented interviews or attempts of an interview of Ernest Davis AKA “Nemo”, Leroy Payne or the resident of [blocked out] Tamika Davis. Further, there does not appear to be any follow up or additional investigation conducted by the Detroit Police Department in relation to the statements made by Vincent Smothers concerning the homicides that occurred at 19741 Runyon.”

Bed under which witness Valerie Glover hid.

Bed under which witness Valerie Glover hid on Runyon St. during killings in Sept. 2007. Smothers told police there was a child on top on the bed, and that he told Glover to be quiet and she would be all right.

Smothers told police Ernest “Nemo” Davis was his accomplice in the Runyon Street killing, and that Leroy Payne, employed by drug kingpin Delano Thomas, hired him for the job.

The MSP report says it requested warrants for Tolbert, Smothers and Davis. But Worthy said at her press conference that she wanted further investigation by the MSP before issuing the warrants. The MSP has said its investigation is over.

Thus left open is the question of whether Worthy and others from the prosecutor’s office and police department who were involved in Sanford’s frame-up should be charged with obstruction of justice and malfeasance in office for knowingly and wrongfully incarcerating Sanford and failing to pursue a case against Smothers and others. Sanford suffered torture, harassment and humiliation by guards while incarcerated at the Ionia Maximum Correctional Facility, and his mother, stepfather, and the rest of his family suffered untold anguish for almost nine years trying to free Sanford.

Below is a different, clearer version of Kym Worthy’s press conference June 9, 2016 than that earlier published by VOD. This version includes footage by Channel 7 of Pros. Worthy’s statements, followed by Channel 2 footage  of reporter’s questions and answers that is slightly more audible than first version.

Related documents:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Sanford-appeals-decision-9-26-13.pdf

http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Sanford-MSC-decision.pdf

Related stories from other media:

The following story includes link to full MSP report on the Sanford case, which is too large to include as a PDF on this site. It is unclear why the Detroit News did not include the link. The other two stories from the Detroit News by George Hunter, and the News’ editorial calling for an investigation of the prosecutor’s office and Detroit police, are referenced in the article above.

http://michiganradio.org/post/report-suggests-detroit-police-failures-put-innocent-kid-prison#stream/0

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/detroit-city/2016/06/20/sanford-jailed-evidence-delay/86126524/

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/detroit-city/2016/06/21/sanford-case-murder-evidence-review-prosecutor/86215920/

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/opinion/editorials/2016/06/23/sanford-probe-proseuctor-police/86311680/.

VOD stories:

DAVONTAE SANFORD SPEAKS, HOME AFTER 9 BRUTAL YEARS IN PRISON

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/06/08/davontae-sanford-is-free-after-9-year-battle-for-justice/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/06/04/child-killers-corrupt-and-killer-cops-and-kym-worthy/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/03/09/prayer-brunch-to-free-davontae-sanford-sat-march-12-falsely-convicted-as-child-of-14-now-23/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/04/19/davontae-sanford-moves-giant-step-closer-to-freedom-as-innocence-clinics-come-to-his-aid/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/12/23/mother-of-davontae-sanford-supporters-decry-pros-worthys-continued-persecution-of-her-son/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/10/22/families-demand-no-police-state-under-detroit-chief-craig-top-cops/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/09/27/victory-for-davontae-sanford-in-appeal-of-conviction-at-age-14-for-four-murders/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/08/10/davontae-sanfords-family-hopeful-after-appeals-court-hearing/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/08/04/free-davontae-sanford-appeals-court-hearing-tues-aug-6-2013-10-a-m/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/04/28/free-davontae-and-charles-justice-for-aiyana-and-trayvon/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/04/24/sanfordjones-rally-receives-broad-coverage-hit-man-signs-affidavit-to-free-davontae/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/04/24/stop-the-war-on-our-youth-davontae-aiyana-and-dad-trayvon-kenny-snodgrass-production/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/03/25/davontae-innocent-being-tortured-in-prison-judge-refuses-to-allow-real-killers-confession/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/02/07/ap-newsbreak-detroit-hit-man-says-davontae-sanford-is-innocent-will-testify/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/08/02/witness-detroit-hit-man-vincent-smothers-said-convicted-teen-davontae-sanford-had-no-role-in-slayings/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/07/19/davontae-sanford%e2%80%99s-innocence-v-detroit-police-and-prosecutors%e2%80%99-reputations/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/05/02/free-davontae-sanford-frank-murphy-court-tues-may-10-9-a-m-to-12-noon/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/01/15/free-davontae-sanford/

#DavontaeFreeatLast, #Beatbackthebullies, #SaveOurChildren, #BlackLivesMatter, #StandUpNow, #StopJuvenileLifeWithoutParole, #FreeCharlesLewis, #EndPoliceStatePrisonNation, #ChargeKymWorthy, #FreeCharlesJones


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U.S. SUPREME COURT TOSSES PUERTO RICO’S DEBT RESTRUCTURING LAW

 U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of U.S. banks, vulture hedge funds

Hedge funds raping Puerto Rico also attacking Detroit, Argentina

Movement on to cancel Puerto Rico’s debt to banks

Reuters logoBy Lawrence Hurley

Videos: Brave New Films (photos, videos not part of Reuters story)

Jun 13, 2016

The Philadelphia-Camden Boricua Committee demonstrated Dec. 2, 2015 in front of the UBS Financial Services office in Philadelphia Center City, part of a national appeal by the New York Call to Action on Puerto Rico to demand the cancellation of Puerto Rico’s debt and expose the criminal role of the banks and financial institutions that impose brutal austerity measures on the residents of the island.

The Philadelphia-Camden Boricua Committee demonstrated Dec. 2, 2015 in front of the UBS Financial Services office in Philadelphia, part of a national appeal by the New York Call to Action on Puerto Rico to demand the cancellation of Puerto Rico’s debt and expose the criminal role of the banks and financial institutions that impose brutal austerity measures on the residents of the island. See

WASHINGTON  —  The Supreme Court on Monday refused to revive a Puerto Rico debt-restructuring law, putting the U.S. territory at risk of a messy default unless Congress this month passes legislation to help the Caribbean island survive its crippling fiscal crisis.

The justices ruled 5-2 that Puerto Rico’s 2014 statute, which would have let it cut billions of dollars in debt at public utilities over creditor objections, conflicted with federal bankruptcy law. The justices left in place a 2015 appeals court ruling invalidating the law, called the Recovery Act.

Passage of legislation now advancing in the U.S. Congress is likely the only remaining option to restructure Puerto Rico’s debt in a bid to avoid a default in the U.S. territory of about 3.5 million people that is burdened by a $70 billion debt load it has said it cannot pay.

The U.S. House of Representatives last Thursday overwhelmingly passed legislation creating a federal control board to help Puerto Rico cope with its debt, and sent the bill to the Senate for consideration. The White House has urged the Senate to act promptly so President Barack Obama can sign the bill into law ahead of a looming July 1 deadline for Puerto Rico to make a $1.9 billion debt payment.

But the Senate’s Republican leaders have not yet revealed their plans for dealing with the legislation.

The proposed oversight board would be tasked with working with investors on restructuring Puerto Rico’s debt and would have the authority to push the island into a bankruptcy-like court process in which it could restructure debt without the agreement of creditors.

Puerto Rico does not have Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, unlike the 50 U.S. states. Puerto Rico’s governor, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, while supporting the bill generally, has expressed reservations about the broad powers it would give the oversight board.

Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the Supreme Court, said Puerto Rico is not considered a U.S. state in one part of bankruptcy law, meaning it cannot authorize its municipal agencies to restructure debt. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented.

Puerto Rico, also hit by a 45 percent poverty rate and a shrinking population, faces economic calamity without measures that either change its laws or involve an agreement with creditors, which include U.S. hedge funds.

In 1984, Congress passed legislation that prohibited Puerto Rico, as a U.S. territory and not a state, from using laws that let states put struggling municipalities into bankruptcy.

Members of labor unions last year marched past the capitol in San Juan, Puerto Rico against an austerity plan to help the island's debt crisis.

Members of labor unions last year marched past the capitol in San Juan, Puerto Rico against an austerity plan to help the island’s debt crisis.

The reinstatement of the Puerto Rico law could have threatened a hard-fought, consensual restructuring at power authority PREPA under which creditors holding most of the utility’s $8.3 billion in debt agreed to take 15 percent reductions in payouts.

The Recovery Act might have allowed Puerto Rico to scrap that deal and instead put PREPA into bankruptcy, where it could impose deeper cuts and bind holdout creditors.

Two U.S. lower court decisions found the Recovery Act invalid after PREPA creditors sued. The Supreme Court heard arguments in Puerto Rico’s appeal on March 22.

“We are grateful for the Supreme Court’s careful consideration of the case, and are pleased that we now can put this litigation behind us,” said Matthew McGill, an attorney for one group of creditors.

The price on Puerto Rico’s benchmark 2035 General Obligation bond gyrated in the wake of the court’s decision. 74514LE86=MSRB

‘REAL WORLD CONSEQUENCES’

Puerto Rico’s governor signed an emergency bill on April 6 allowing the government to halt payments on its debt, throwing into doubt broader restructuring plans to stave off a financial collapse.

“Preemption cases may seem like abstract discussions of the appropriate balance between states and federal power,” Sotomayor wrote in dissent. “But they have real world consequences. Finding preemption here means that a government is left powerless with no legal process to help its 3.5 million citizens.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Sotomayor, whose parents were born in Puerto Rico and moved to New York before she was born, said Puerto Ricans “should not have to wait for possible congressional action to avert the consequences of unreliable electricity, transportation and safe water.”

Height Securities analyst Daniel Hanson said the ruling should be read in concert with a separate Supreme Court decision last week holding that Puerto Rico is not a separate sovereign entity from the United States for the purposes of bringing criminal charges.

The two rulings show that “Puerto Rico’s ultimate source of authority is the U.S. Congress, and the power to overrule what Congress has ordained – including in the Puerto Rico constitution – is non-existent,” Hanson wrote.

Puerto Rico's governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla addresses the legislature about a billion-dollar cut in public spending and his new economic initiatives, in San Juan in this April 29, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Ana Martinez-Santiago/Files

Puerto Rico’s governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla addresses the legislature about a billion-dollar cut in public spending and his new economic initiatives, in San Juan in this April 29, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Ana Martinez-Santiago/Files

That could make it harder for Puerto Rico’s governor to make good on his threat to default on debt backed by Puerto Rico’s constitution in the name of maintaining government services, Hanson added.

Only seven justices considered the case because Justice Samuel Alito recused himself and Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February, has not yet been replaced.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Additional reporting by Richard Cowan in Washington, Daniel Bases in New York and Nick Brown in San Juan; Editing by Will Dunham)

Related stories:

http://www.workers.org/2015/12/09/cancel-puerto-ricos-debt/#.V2gjKs_2bIU

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-puertorico-governor-idUSKBN0TX2HD20151214

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/05/27/sanders-pushes-dems-to-reject-puerto-rico-debt-deal-engineered-by-banks-which-destroyed-detroit/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/07/04/vowing-to-paralyze-this-island-puerto-rico-unions-call-general-strike-against-austerity/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/06/11/puerto-rico-unions-threaten-strike-against-austerity-budget-jones-day-law-firm-involved/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/11/15/detroit-bankruptcy-plan-genocide-in-usas-largest-black-majority-city-rich-get-95-9-poor-get-13-5/

 

 


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PROTESTERS DEMAND FREEDOM FOR RASMEA ODEH AND PALESTINE, AS JUDGE DRAIN ORDERS POSSIBLE NEW TRIAL

Video above: Over 60 leading Black and Palestinian artists and activists affirm Black-Palestinian solidarity, including Ms. Lauryn Hill, Danny Glover, DAM, Omar Barghouti, Alice Walker, Angela Davis, Yousef Erakat, Annemarie Jacir, Boots Riley, Dr. Cornel West, and many others.


After 6th Circuit Court vacates Odeh’s sentence, U.S. District Court Judge Gershwin Drain orders evidentiary hearing Nov. 29, likely re-trial in Jan.

 Odeh tortured, raped by Israeli occupation forces in 1969, now charged with “false statements” in naturalization application 

Defense expert to testify regarding PTSD effects on memory of torture survivors 

Odeh’s arrest result of general FBI sweep of pro-Palestinian activists’ homes in Chicago and Minneapolis 

Rasmea Odeh thanks her supporters outside the Detroit federal courthouse June 13, 2016.

Rasmea Odeh thanks her supporters, particularly Arab-American women from Chicago, outside Detroit’s federal courthouse after hearing June 13, 2016.  At her left is Nadeen Darweech, President of Students for Justice in Palestine at Loyala University.

 

By Diane Bukowski 

June 18, 2016 

Some of dozens of Rasmea Odeh's supporters outside Detroit's federal courthouse June 13, 2016.

Some of dozens of Rasmea Odeh’s supporters outside Detroit’s federal courthouse June 13, 2016.

DETROIT – Carrying banners declaring  “We demand #JUSTICE4RASMEA,” and “From Ferguson to Palestine, Occupation is a Crime,” over 100 protesters from across the U.S. rallied for two hours outside the Fort Street federal courthouse in Detroit June 13.

Inside, U.S. District Court Judge Gershwin Drain, after hearing arguments in chambers, ordered a Nov. 29, 2016 evidentiary hearing and a possible re-trial Jan. 10, 2017 for Palestinian-American activist Rasmea Odeh, 68, convicted earlier of making “false statements” on her naturalization application that she had never been convicted of a crime.

Palestinian children who died during 1969-70 Israeli invasion of Gaza. They were among hundreds.

Palestinian children who died during 1969-70 Israeli invasion of Gaza. They were among hundreds.

Odeh was repeatedly tortured and raped by the Israeli military for three weeks during its 1969-70 invasion and subsequent occupation of Gaza, condemned world-wide. The Israelis imprisoned her for allegedly bombing an supermarket in Jerusalem. She has said that any confession she made was elicited by torture.

“As a Black woman who has lived in an oppressed community for over half a century, and as a rape survivor, I say the Black community and Detroiters need to stand up for Rasmea,” activist-poet Tawanna “Honeycomb” Petty said during the rally.

Rasmea's Detroit supporters included Christian Bailey (l) and Tawanna "Honeycomb" Petty.

Rasmea’s Detroit supporters included Christian Bailey (l) and Tawanna “Honeycomb” Petty.

“Here in Detroit, Black women and families are evicted and kicked out of their homes like in Palestine. Our right to water is under attack in both places. Systems of incarceration are used to police and repress our communities. It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win.”

On Feb. 25 this year, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati vacated Odeh’s Nov. 14, 2015 jury conviction. It remanded her case to Drain, who had sentenced her to 18 months in prison and deportation.

Drain said at the time, “I don’t normally comment on verdicts, but in this case I will: I think it’s a fair and reasonable one based on the evidence that came in.”

But the Sixth Circuit disagreed, ordering Drain to allow testimony he had barred from Mary Fabri, an expert on post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) in torture survivors. Drain also barred Odeh herself from testifying about her treatment by the Israeli soldiers.

U.S. District Court Judge Gershwin Drain

U.S. District Court Judge Gershwin Drain

The joint ruling from Sixth Circuit Judges John Rogers, Alice Batchelder and Karen Moore focused on allowing Fabri’s testimony, and specifically said the court was not ordering a new trial. But Batchelder said in partial dissent that she would have ordered a new trial.

Batchelder wrote, “ . . . proving that Odeh lied under oath, and even that that lie was ‘material,’ would not require evidence that she was charged with ‘plac[ing] explosives in the hall of the SuperSol in Jerusalem . . .with the intent of causing death or injury.’ The risk of unfair prejudice from this evidence was enormous, especially since Odeh was not permitted to testify at trial about her claims of torture. The word ‘terrorist’ may never have been uttered before the jury, but it was doubtless in the minds of everyone present.”

6th Circuit Judge John Rogers

Judge John Rogers

Judge Alice Batchelder

Judge Alice Batchelder

Judge Karen Nelson Moore

Judge Karen Nelson Moore

The other woman judge on the appeals panel, Karen Moore, additionally wrote that Drain’s decision to admit aspects of the military tribunal indictment was, “although harmless error. . . an abuse of discretion.” She said those aspects included the names of the two people who died in the bombing, along with the prayer, “May Their Memories be a Blessing.”

“The names and prayer give color and texture to the bombing, so that it becomes more real and difficult to separate from the instant offense,” Moore wrote. “They provide exactly the kind of detail likely to provide a visceral reaction.”

Rasmea Odeh greets and thanks supporters as she leaves court June 13, 2016.

Rasmea Odeh greets and thanks supporters as she leaves court June 13, 2016.

The crowd rallying outside greeted Odeh and her legal defense team, including attorney Michael Deutsch, with rousing cheers as they left the courthouse. Deutsch has in the past represented members of the Black Panther Party and the Puerto Rican independence movement. For the past 10 years, Odeh has helped Arab-American women in Chicago through her social work, and has supported the struggles of many other groups, including those protesting dozens of murders by police in Chicago.

Deutsch said the Nov. 29 hearing will determine whether Odeh herself can testify in addition to Fabri, and whether there will be a new trial. He said the prosecution insisted on the hearing, where it plans to challenge inclusion of the previously barred testimony as well as a new trial.

Attorney Michael Deutsch

“We haven’t reached the question of how broadly [Odeh] can testify at any new trial,” Deutsch said. “My reading of the judge is that he seems to be leaning to letting the expert testify.”

During the trial, Judge Drain originally granted the defense’s request to have Fabri testify, then reversed his decision.

Deutsch said Drain took under consideration the defense’s request to ease requirements that Odeh report every week to Pre-Trial Services in Chicago, and not travel. However the judge did not rule.

Those rallying on Odeh’s behalf came from Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Dearborn, Grand Rapids, and Ann Arbor, among other places. Two protesters even traveled from Texas. They represented Black and Filipino community organizations in various cities along with Black Lives Matter and other anti-police brutality organizations.

Professor Angela Davis, esteemed world-wide as a hero of the Black liberation movement in the U.S., wrote an op-ed supporting Rasmea, published in the Detroit News and other media across the country.

Prof. Angela Davis, Frank Chapman of Chicago Alliance and Rasmea Odeh at 2015 rally.

Prof. Angela Davis, Frank Chapman of Chicago Alliance vs. Racism and Political Repression,  and Rasmea Odeh at 2015 rally.

“Only now, when the Chicago activist community has effectively raised awareness of Israel’s apartheid system and its violation of international laws, have immigration authorities decided to challenge [Odeh’s] status as a citizen,” Davis said. “In light of the success of the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment campaign, this case reeks of political payback.”

Hatem Abudayyeh of the U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN), acting as national spokesperson for the Rasmea Defense Committee, earlier filled VOD in on the background of Rasmea’s arrest by immigration officials. He now lives in Detroit, having moved from Chicago. The USPCN along with the Committee to Stop FBI Repression (CSFR), anchor Odeh’s defense committee.

“We cannot win Rasmea’s case only in court, but by mobilizing political support,” Abudayyeh said. “For 40-50 years in the U.S., Palestinians have said our struggle is the Black community’s struggle, and done decades of organizing work. In Sept. 2010, the FBI conducted raids in five households in Chicago and Minneapolis, arresting people who became known as ‘the Midwest 23.’ They came after Rasmea in particular, as a representative of our liberation movement.”

Hatem Abudayyeh, national spokesman for Rasmea Defense Committee.

Hatem Abudayyeh, national spokesman for Rasmea Defense Committee.

Abudayyeh continued, “There are 7,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails, and now they are trying to criminalize our movement here. We have to fight back by any means necessary. There is nothing criminal about our movement.

“U.S. Prosecutor Jonathan Turkel [now removed from Odeh’s case], took advantage of the publicity about ISIS. He is not going to say anything about the huge role the U.S. played to bring about the rise of that group. For him to compare Rasmea and Palestinians with ISIS and Al-Quaeda is nothing but fear-mongering and scapegoating. But we believe there has been a shift in this country in support of Palestinian rights.”

Abudayyeh compared the U.S. government’s attack on pro-Palestinian organizers with COINTELPRO, the FBI-led campaign to kill, imprison, and discredit leaders of the Black Panther Party and other Black liberation groups.

“Israel is the most important ally of the U.S.,” Abudayyeh said. “It is a stronghold for U.S. interests in Palestine and the Arab world. The U.S. wants it to be that white racist settlement.”

Chicago Black Christmas protesters against police killings.

Chicago Black Christmas protesters against police killings.

Frank Chapman, an organizer with the Chicago Alliance Against Racism and Political Repression, also spoke during the rally.

“We are in the midst of a huge fight against police crimes in the Black community,” Chapman said. “But the people who rule our country are in a world of trouble. People are out in the streets on an almost daily basis fighting back.”

Narissa Allegretti, of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns, said, “This is about all of us. It is not about immigration, it is about repression. We are all Rasmea.”

Other speakers included representatives of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, Black Youth 100, the Cincinnati Palestine Solidarity Movement, Jewish Voice for Peace, Students for Justice in Palestine from Loyola University, as well as other organizers of the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment campaign from various colleges.

Rasmea Odea

Rasmea Odea’s supporters outside federal courthouse June 13, 2016.

The Rasmea Defense Committee can be contacted through Hatem Abudayyah, at 773-301-4108, and hatem85@yahoo.com.

Related documents:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Rasmea-Odeh-6th-Circuit-decision-2-25-16.pdf

Related stories:

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/opinion/2014/11/04/angela-davis-free-rasmea-odea/18429933/

https://indypendent.org/2014/11/08/sjp-president-university-made-us-sound-monsters

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/02/26/rasmea-odeh-may-get-new-trial-us-appeals-court-rules/ 

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/11/07/palestinian-heroine-torture-victim-rasmea-odeh-convicted-in-detroit-appeal-planned/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/02/09/the-covert-origins-of-isis-united-states-cia-in-libya-syria-iraq-afghanistan/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/02/19/the-u-s-empire-and-isis-a-tale-of-two-death-cults/

#Justice4Rasmea, #FreePalestineNow, #BlackLivesMatter, #BlackLivesMatterDetroit, #Beatbackthebullies, #StandUpNow, #StopRacistWaronArabImmigrants, #StopICEraids, #StopDHSattacks, #EndRacismNow, #Justice4AiyanaJones, #Justice4TerranceKellom, #Justice4Kevin Matthews, #Justice4JanetWilson. #StopUSImperialistWars


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WAYNE COUNTY GENERAL ASSEMBLY: FOR THE COMMON PEOPLE; SAT. JUNE 18, 2016 5-9 PM AT BERT’S

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DAVONTAE SANFORD SPEAKS, HOME AFTER 9 BRUTAL YEARS IN PRISON

Detroit News video of Davontae’s words during June 9 press conference.

14-year-old child now a composed, articulate young man moving ahead 

“Keep fighting, don’t’ give up, don’t roll over, don’t let them break you”—Sanford 

“Keep us in your prayers, especially Davontae. He’s had his whole childhood taken away”—Mother Taminko Sanford-Tilmon 

“The people of Wayne County should be ashamed of what Kym Worthy said at her smoke and mirrors press conference today, still blaming a 14-year-old child”—Bill Proctor 

Mother asks for prayers for real killer, Vincent Smothers, whose confession helped exonerate Sanford 

Davontae Sanford (center) beams as his family including (l to r) sisters , mother Taminko Sanford-Tilmon, stepfather Jermaine TIlmon, and Apostle W. J. RIdeout III applaud his release.

Davontae Sanford (center) beams as his family including (l to r) sisters Dashonda Davis and Lamaze Sanford, mother Taminko Sanford-Tilmon, stepfather Jermaine TIlmon, and Apostle W. J. Rideout III applaud his release. Nephew Ormari Sanford, 5, is in front. All his family, including nephew, have participated in rallies to free him.

By Diane Bukowski 

June 11, 2016 

Davontae Sanford at 14. Family photo

Davontae Sanford at 14. Family photo

DETROIT – “It’s a great time to be alive,” exulted a beaming Davontae Sanford, 23, gathered on stage with his family for a press conference in Detroit June 9 celebrating his exoneration and release from nine years of wrongful incarceration. 

Gone was the 14-year-old child Detroit police had duped into confessing to four drug house murders on Runyon Street in 2007, who could barely read and write. In his place was a mature, composed, articulate, handsome young man who thanked his family, especially his mother, and supporters across the world, while calling attention to the plight of other juveniles still unjustly incarcerated.

“Keep fighting, don’t give up, don’t roll over, don’t let them break you,” Sanford said. “I was at the breaking point many times, but I stayed positive. I had no choice but to grow, to learn, and to read. There are juveniles who are sentenced to 30 to 40 years at 16 years old. There are no programs for them. There is violence. The mental health treatment is terrible. My mother kept me going, and I received letters from people all over the world who told me, ‘You ARE getting out of prison.’”

Vincent Smothers during court hearing. His confession helped free Davontae Sanford.

Vincent Smothers during court hearing. His confession helped free Davontae Sanford.

Sanford said there were of course times he was angry about his situation, but he stressed, “Now it is time to get my life back on track.”

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Brian Sullivan vacated Sanford’s 37-90 year sentence June 7 and ordered his immediate release. Sullivan first sentenced Sanford on April 4, 2008, two weeks before admitted hit man Vincent Smothers confessed to the Runyon Street murders along with eight other killings, a confession that has been known all along to Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy.

Smothers, now serving 50-100 years for eight other murders, has since repeatedly offered to testify to Sanford’s absolute innocence, even waiving his Fifth Amendment rights, despite the danger he faces in prison for naming his accomplice. He was barred by Sullivan and Worthy from doing so during years of post-conviction hearings, until a 2013 appeals court decision ordering Sullivan to allow Smothers or his attorney Gabi Silver, and experts on false confessions, to testify. The Michigan Supreme Court later overturned the Appeals Court ruling.

Detroit Police investigator Ira Todd

Detroit police investigator Ira Todd.

Detroit Police Investigator Ira Todd, who took Smothers’ confession to all 12 murders, sued the Detroit Police Department for demoting him because he would not let Smothers’ confession be buried. Judge Sullivan barred him from testifying during post-conviction hearings.

“I understand what prison life is like; it’s miserable,” Smothers told AP reporter Ed White. “To be here and be innocent – I don’t know what it’s like. He’s a kid, and I hate for him to do the kind of time they’re giving him.”

Sanford’s mother and stepfather Taminko Sanford-Tilmon and Jermaine Tilmon, along with his sisters Deshonda Davis and LaMaze Sanford, brother DeShon Davis, and 5-year-old nephew Omari Sanford, flanked him as he spoke. The entire family waged the struggle for his exoneration, holding rallies, prayer breakfasts, and contacting supporters.

Sanford’s case became a cause celebre across the world.

Also on stage were Bishop Daryl Harris of Total Life Ministries, Apostle W.J. Rideout III, family attorney Valerie Lewis, and Swift Justice Initiative producer Bill Proctor.

Taminko Sanford-Tilmon speaks June 9, 2016.

Taminko Sanford-Tilmon speaks June 9, 2016.

“There were days I thought I wouldn’t make it,” Sanford-Tilmon said. “Now I’ve been lying in bed and crying with joy. Davontae’s had to tell me, Mama, let go my hand. Keep us in your prayers, especially Davontae. He’s had his whole childhood taken away. We don’t take that lightly. Keep Smothers in your prayers also. It took him to do the right thing to get Davontae out.”

She thanked numerous supporters including the attorney Newman, Smothers’ attorney Gabi Silver, various members of the media, Roberto Guzman of the Coalition to Free the Wrongfully Convicted, and others.

Bill Proctor, formerly a Detroit Channel 7 News investigative reporter, said he was the first to go to the editorial boards of Detroit’s media to tell them the truth about the Runyon Street killings, early on.

Bill Proctor. Producer Swift Justice Initiative.

Bill Proctor. Producer Swift Justice Initiative.

“The people of Wayne County should be ashamed of what [Worthy] said at her hour-long smoke and mirrors press conference today, still blaming a 14-year-old child,” Proctor said. “This was an orchestrated prosecution. It did nothing to bring justice to the families of the four people who died. The police and the prosecutor got together to put a child in prison. [Worthy] had the authority, which she did not use, to go to the Chief Judge and others to put an end to this. Nine years later, that child is 23, and Kym Worthy bears much of the responsibility.”

Worthy spent most of her press conference that morning displaying pictures of the four people killed on Runyon Street and selectively presenting every detail of evidence she used to keep Sanford in prison while claiming Smothers’ confession was insufficient. But even Smothers’ sentencing judge Craig Strong noted the absence of the Runyon Street murders during his 2008 sentencing for the other eight murders, and called on Smothers to make things right for Sanford. (See video below.)

About 10 Detroit police Gang Squad officers stood outside the entrance to the Sanford press conference, reportedly because family members of those killed had threatened Sanford. Below are photos of the victims, who Worthy focused on, falsely implying still that Sanford was involved in their deaths. Worthy showed these photos during her press conference, streamed live on every station. She never admitted that the MSP investigation showed that Smothers and Ernest Davis were the real killers.


Brian Dixon

Nicole Chapman, murdered on Runyon St.

Nicole Chapman

Angelo McNoriell

Michael Robinson

Michael Robinson


“[Worthy] structured the 50-100 year deal that Smothers got, purposely leaving out the four Runyon Street killings,” Proctor told VOD. “What Kym Worthy did today in more than an hour of explanation of minutiae in the case, was leave out many of the elements. She casually mentioned the fact that Davontae named three accomplices in his confession, but she didn’t say the Detroit Police found them, talked to them and cleared them, for example.”

Wayne Walker

Wayne Walker Facebook photo

Wayne Walker commented on Facebook, “Kym Worthy I’m blaming you for sending that kid to prison for nine years of his life knowing damn well he didn’t do all of those killings, ESPECIALLY when the killer confessed back in 2008, you could have let the young man out on bail as y’all investigated. But he was young poor and Black, and you wanted another ‘case closed’ on your record. Because to the prosecution’s office, that ‘any n—- will do’ attitude still exists.”

In an 32-page affidavit attached to the 2015 Innocence Clinics’ motion for relief from judgment, Smothers said, “I cannot emphasize strongly enough that Davontae Sanford was not involved in the September 17, 2007 murders at Runyon Street in any way. . . Before my arrest by the Detroit Police Department in April of 2008, I had never met, spoken with, or even heard of Davontae Sanford or anyone connected to him. Davontae Sanford is being wrongly incarcerated for crimes that I know he did not commit.”

Michael Robinson house on Runyon Street.

Michael Robinson house on Runyon Street.

Smothers said in the affidavit, dated March 6, 2015 that he “repeatedly and consistently confessed to the Runyon Street murders for seven years,” to Ira Todd of the Detroit Police Department, Kentucky detectives who were tracking James Davis, the brother of his accomplice Ernest Davis, Michigan State police detectives, his attorney Gabi Silver and defense investigator Linda Borus, in addition to the officers present April 19, 2008.

He says he at first did not agree to take the stand himself because he feared for the safety of his wife and children if he was portrayed as a “snitch.”

But, he goes on, “I am now willing to testify in court that I committed the Runyon murders with Nemo . . . I am frustrated that repeatedly telling the truth about these crimes for nearly seven years, Davontae Sanford is still wrongfully incarcerated for crimes he did not commit.”

Read his detailed confession at Smothers aff 3 6 13.compressed/.

Ionia Maximum Security Prison has been the subject of many brutality complaints by prisoners.

Sanford’s time in prison was brutal. From the age of 15, he spent eight years at Michigan’s Ionia Maximum Correctional Facility, at Level 5, the highest security classification in the state. He spent 23 hours a day in isolation. For part of the time, he was confined to a section that was the subject of a 2014 lawsuit by two prisoners, Michael Robinson and Dayon King, which is still ongoing.

“Conditions at ICF’s Maximum Security Unit are harsh,” attorney Nakish Chaney wrote in the lawsuit. “However, for prisoners who filed complaints against corrections officers, the imposed conditions of confinement far exceed the ordinary hardships of prison life. These conditions include unprovoked beatings, gassings, forced cell extractions, food and water deprivation, extended deprivation of basic hygiene and health care, and fabricated misconduct tickets that result in long periods of isolation and other punitive conditions.”

Michael Robinson, plaintiff in ongoing federal lawsuit against Ionia conditions.

Michael Robinson

Dayon King, co-plaintiff

Dayon King

In 2013, Davontae wrote to his mother, “I am writing to let you know that the only reason why I haven’t been calling you or nobody else is because I’ve been going through a whole lot with these officers. They’ve been messing over me, taking my food, my showers, and I was hogtied for days at a time. They’ve been harassing me every chance they get.”

Paralegl Roberto Guzman told Sanford from the audience, “I see a phoenix rising after your very long journey. You still have the support of all of us.”

He attended the press conference with a glowing Sherena Cotton, mother of Marvin Cotton. Guzman helped Cotton win a new trial, and his mother said he is expected to have an evidentiary hearing shortly.

Sherena Cotton and Roberto Guzman

Sherena Cotton and Roberto Guzman

Attorney Newman said members of the media have been swamping the Sanford-Tilmon household and asked them to keep away to give Davontae and his family time to heal.

“Davontae deserves enormous credit, going in at such a young age, then short and vulnerable,” she said. “He could have chosen to let prison time do him but he chose a different path. It is a great testament to his character that he stands before you now, so composed, so confident.”

Worthy contended untruthfully during her press conference that her refusal to withdraw charges against Sanford was backed by every court. However, the Sept. 28, 2013 Appeals Court ruling remanding the case back to Sullivan was scathing, criticizing Sullivan’s ruling that Sanford’s attorney Kim McGinnis had not presented enough evidence to support his claim of innocence in order to overturn his guilty plea.

Family attorney Valerie Newman speaks June 9, 2016

Family attorney Valerie Newman speaks June 9, 2016

The panel ruled in summary, “[W]e vacate the trial court’s order denying defendant’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea and remand for further proceedings regarding the admissibility of Dr. Fulero’s and Ira Todd’s proposed expert testimony on false confessions and police interrogation techniques . . . and for reconsideration of defendant’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea after affording defendant an opportunity (1) to present attorney Gabi Silver’s testimony regarding Smothers’ statements to her concerning the Runyon Street homicides . . . (2) to present expert testimony that satisfies the remaining requirements of MRE 702 . . . (3) to obtain discovery of Smothers’s other homicide case files and to present admissible evidence revealed by that discovery . . . .and (4) allow Smothers the opportunity to testify if he does not exercise his rights under the Fifth Amendment.”

The court blamed the prosecution, stating, “The error in excluding Silver’s testimony [on behalf of Smothers] was not harmless. . .The reliability of Smothers’ confession to the Runyon Street homicides was the most significant evidence in defendant’s actual innocence proceeding. The trial court was not convinced that Smothers’ statements to Williams were sufficiently clear and convincing to establish that Smothers, not defendant, was the perpetrator. But neither Williams nor any other officer thoroughly questioned Smothers about the Runyon Street homicides. There is a high likelihood that Silver’s testimony would have provided more details of Smothers’ purported involvement in the Runyon Street homicides.”

Asst. Prosecutor Patrick Muscat.

APA Patrick Muscat/ Sanford case

Kym Worthy consults with two APA's.

Kym Worthy consults with two APA’s.

It also said the Prosecutor’s office could have offered Smothers immunity in return for his testimony, in order to allow his cross-examination.

“The prosecutor’s fairness argument is somewhat disingenuous because the prosecutor could avoid any perceived disadvantage by petitioning for use immunity under MCL 767.6,” the court said. “ . . . .However, the prosecutor’s own unwillingness to request use immunity for Smothers’s testimony, despite the prosecution’s position that Smothers was not involved in the Runyon Street homicides, is the barrier to cross-examination of Smothers.”  To view complete ruling, click on http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Sanford-COA-3.pdf.

The Michigan Supreme Court later overturned the Appeals Court decision, ruling that Sanford’s case could be brought back instead on a motion for relief from judgment. That motion was filed last year by various attorneys. Worthy further prolonged Sanford’s incarceration by having the Michigan State Police re-investigate the case for over a year.

Former Detroit police investigator James Tolbert, who took Sanford confession, was fired as Flint's police chief in 2015.

Former Detroit police investigator James Tolbert, who took Sanford confession, was fired as Flint’s police chief in 2015.

She still has not taken action on the MSP’s recommendation that charges be brought against Smothers and his accomplice Earnest Davis in the Runyon Street murders, or against Detroit police detective James Tolbert, who took Sanford’s initial confession. He was fired as Chief of Police in Flint in 2015.

During his interview with the MSP, Tolbert contradicted his earlier sworn testimony that Sanford drew a map of the house where the killings took place, saying instead that he himself drew the map and Sanford placed the bodies. Worthy claimed this was the single “building block” that convinced her to agree to dismiss charges against Sanford, despite the existence of forensic and ballistics evidence that showed Sanford mis-identified the guns used in the Runyon Street killings, and a detailed 24-page confession from Smothers.

Smothers said he decided to quit carrying out hits after he killed Rose Cobb, wife of Detroit police Sgt. David Cobb. He said he did not like to kill women or children.

Worthy mentioned nothing about investigating and charging the parties who hired Smothers to carry out the Runyon Street killings. In his March 6, 2015 confession, Smothers named the prime party as drug dealer Delano “Lano” Thomas, who is now deceased. He named a key party connected with Thomas, who was the individual who recruited him for most of the hits.  During his investigation, Todd had reported a drug connection linking Smothers’ accomplice Davis with dealers in Kentucky. Smothers also carried out a paid hit on Rose Cobb, the wife of a police officer, leading some to speculate that he may have been connected to the DPD as well.

During her press conference, Worthy also referred to alleged “perjured alibi” testimony by former Detroit Police Homicide Chief William Rice, who said Davontae was with him and Davontae’s aunt Cheryl Sanford at the time of the killings. The prosecution presented a so-called “expert” witness to testify that cell phone tower “pings” from Rice’s phone contradicted his testimony.

William RIce, who testified on Sanford's behalf, is now serving 2 - 20 years in prison on perjury charges brought by Worthy.

William RIce, who testified on Sanford’s behalf, is now serving 2 – 20 years in prison on perjury charges brought by Worthy.

Sanford’s attorney at the time, Kim McGinnis, challenged the expert’s credentials and said that such cell phone tower evidence has been proven unreliable.

Rice is now serving a term of two to 20 years in prison on two counts of perjury in a court proceeding and one count of conducting a criminal enterprise. Worthy charged him shortly after he testified on behalf of Sanford. She also charged Cheryl Sanford, who received probation in connection with the criminal enterprise charges.

During the press conference, Ken Wyniemko, who was exonerated after 10 years in prison due to  a wrongful conviction, expressed his support for Sanford and his family. He is a board member of the University of Michigan Innocence Clinic, of Proving Innocence, Inc., and Commissioner with the Thomas M. Cooley Law School Innocence Project.

Ken Wyniemko speaks during press conference.

“I have dedicated myself to helping other men and women who have been wrongfully convicted,” he said.

Wyniemko said he and Stephanie Chang are campaigning for passage of two bills in the Michigan House and Senate that would compensate such exonerees. They are HB 4536 and SB 291. The Senate enrolled bill, which includes elements of the House Bill, was approved June 9, 2016, by a wide margin.

That bill is at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/2015-SEBS-0291.pdf.

Advocate W.J. Rideout III called on the state’s universities to offer scholarships to Sanford, and Attorney Newman called on the public to support a GoFundMe site set up to help Davontae move forward in his new life financially. VOD will publish a link to that site after it has been located.

Joyous Sanford-Tilmon family greets Davontae as he arrives home June 8.

Joyous Sanford-Tilmon family greets Davontae as he arrives home June 8. AP photo

Related stories:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/06/08/davontae-sanford-is-free-after-9-year-battle-for-justice/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/06/04/child-killers-corrupt-and-killer-cops-and-kym-worthy/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/03/09/prayer-brunch-to-free-davontae-sanford-sat-march-12-falsely-convicted-as-child-of-14-now-23/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/04/19/davontae-sanford-moves-giant-step-closer-to-freedom-as-innocence-clinics-come-to-his-aid/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/12/23/mother-of-davontae-sanford-supporters-decry-pros-worthys-continued-persecution-of-her-son/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/10/22/families-demand-no-police-state-under-detroit-chief-craig-top-cops/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/09/27/victory-for-davontae-sanford-in-appeal-of-conviction-at-age-14-for-four-murders/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/08/10/davontae-sanfords-family-hopeful-after-appeals-court-hearing/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/08/04/free-davontae-sanford-appeals-court-hearing-tues-aug-6-2013-10-a-m/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/04/28/free-davontae-and-charles-justice-for-aiyana-and-trayvon/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/04/24/sanfordjones-rally-receives-broad-coverage-hit-man-signs-affidavit-to-free-davontae/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/04/24/stop-the-war-on-our-youth-davontae-aiyana-and-dad-trayvon-kenny-snodgrass-production/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/03/25/davontae-innocent-being-tortured-in-prison-judge-refuses-to-allow-real-killers-confession/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/02/07/ap-newsbreak-detroit-hit-man-says-davontae-sanford-is-innocent-will-testify/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/08/02/witness-detroit-hit-man-vincent-smothers-said-convicted-teen-davontae-sanford-had-no-role-in-slayings/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/07/19/davontae-sanford%e2%80%99s-innocence-v-detroit-police-and-prosecutors%e2%80%99-reputations/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/05/02/free-davontae-sanford-frank-murphy-court-tues-may-10-9-a-m-to-12-noon/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/01/15/free-davontae-sanford/

http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2014/02/lawsuit_inmate_at_ionia_prison.html

VOD stories on juvenile lifers, who Davontae Sanford pledged to support:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/05/24/free-charles-lewis-innocent-juvenile-lifer-who-has-spent-41-years-in-state-prisons/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/04/30/why-is-juvenile-lifer-charles-lewis-still-in-prison-16-yrs-after-his-case-was-dismissed/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/05/18/michigan-juvenile-lifers-score-6th-circuit-appeals-court-victory-in-hill-v-snyder/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/04/12/dying-in-prison-michigan-juvenile-lifers-get-new-hope-under-montgomery-still-face-obstacles/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/02/12/u-s-judge-rules-all-michigan-juvenile-lifers-eligible-for-parole/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/10/28/michigans-juvenile-lifers-want-state-to-comply-with-u-s-supreme-court-ruling/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/08/16/michigan-challenges-u-s-supreme-court-ruling-on-juvenile-life-without-parole/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/07/02/us-supreme-courts-juvenile-lifer-decision-brings-hope-to-thousands/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/07/02/nations-high-court-ends-mandatory-life-without-parole-sentences-for-youth/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/11/11/why-michigan-has-more-juvenile-life-sentences-than-almost-any-other-state/

#DavontaeFreeatLast, #Beatbackthebullies, #SaveOurChildren, #BlackLivesMatter, #StandUpNow, #StopJuvenileLifeWithoutParole, #FreeCharlesLewis, #EndPoliceStatePrisonNation, #ChargeKymWorthy


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DAVONTAE SANFORD IS FREE AFTER 9-YEAR BATTLE FOR JUSTICE


“I guess when I can finally hug Davontae I will know it is real. I haven’t touched or hugged him for 8 years.”—Mother Taminko Sanford-Tilmon

 “Kym Worthy has known for years of the real statements coming from the confessed hit man”—Bill Proctor 

Vincent Smothers confessed to Detroit Police two weeks after Davontae was sentenced; Sgt. Ira Todd was demoted for insisting on Sanford’s innocence

Worthy press conference held Thurs. June 9: falsely blames child’s lawyers for not challenging guilty plea, producing experts to testify to state of mind

Sanford family’s press conference Thurs. June 9, 2 p.m. at 13560 E. McNichols, Detroit

By Diane Bukowski

June 8, 2016, updated June 9, 2016

After 9 long years, Davontae Sanford can finally smile at his victory.

After 9 long years, Davontae Sanford can finally smile at his victory.

DETROIT – In a stunning turn of events that exposed the guilt of all who kept an innocent Davontae Sanford locked up since the age of 14, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Brian Sullivan vacated Sanford’s 37-90 year sentence for four killings on Runyon Street in 2oo7, and ordered his immediate release during a hearing June 7.

He should be home in his family’s arms today, away from the brutal prison life he endured, which included constant harassment and torture by guards.

The Detroit Police Department, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, and Judge Sullivan knew of self-admitted hit man Vincent Smothers’ detailed confession to the murders two weeks after Davontae was sentenced on April 4, 2008, but led what amounted to a criminal cover-up. In a perfect world, they would now be charged with obstruction of justice and jailed themselves.

Sanford’s mother, Taminko Sanford-Tilmon, her husband Jermaine Tilmon, and Sanford’s siblings led the excruciating battle to extract their son and brother from “the belly of the beast,” for the next nine years without pause.

Taminko Sanford-Tilmon speaks at well-covered 2012 rally for Davontae, demanding Kym Worthy drop charges.

Taminko Sanford-Tilmon speaks at well-covered 2012 rally for Davontae, demanding Kym Worthy drop charges; family surrounds her.

“There were days and times I never thought my son would ever see daylight again, my darkest moments, his birthday, or just because I would crawl in a corner on many days and didn’t want to come out,” Sanford-Tilmon wrote on Facebook.

“But God!!! [kept] giving me the strength to fight n God Blessed us with people that wanted to support n fight n love Davontae like he was theirs. I’m blessed, numb, overwhelmed and full of joy and nervous all at the same time. It doesn’t seem real due to all the bumps we hit in this case. I guess when I can finally hug Davontae I will know it is real. I haven’t touched or hugged him in eight years. If you’re going through something just know God is able. Your presence support and love has truly blessed us. Dinner will be coming but first my job is to protect my son, alone with his family and his true supporters. Davontae is our main force and priority. He will be with us tomorrow.”

In video below, Sanford-Tilmon speaks out during press conference sponsored in 2015 by two Innocence Clinics seeking to free Davontae.

Former Channel 7 News reporter Bill Proctor covered the case in its early years, even opening his own Innocence Clinic.

“We revealed the misconduct of the Detroit Police Department way back when this happened,” Proctor told Channel 7 reporter Simon Chayket in the video at the top of this story.

Prosecutor Kym Worthy

Judge Brian Sullivan

“And the fact of the matter is the prosecutor’s office, Kym Worthy, has known for years of the real statements coming from the confessed hit man, in fact she structured out a deal for him to essentially send him off to prison without including this case,” Proctor said.

“She has known for years. Finally Davontae Sanford, his mother, his siblings, are all going to get justice, but they have known for all these years that the wrong person was in prison and that the right man had confessed. Vincent Smothers had a lot more credibility for these killings than anyone else on this planet.”

An appeals court ruled Sept. 26, 2013 that Smothers must be allowed to testify at post-conviction hearings in front of Sullivan, along with experts on coerced confessions, the evident lynchpin in Sullivan’s decision to free the young man. Sullivan had repeatedly refused to allow his testimony during earlier hearings where Sanford was represented by Attorney Kim McGinnis of the State Appellate Defender’s Office.

Davontae Sanford family and supporters after appeals court hearing August 6, 2013. Mother Taminko Sanford Tilmon and stepfather Jermaine Tilmon at right; paralegal Roberto Guzman in front; Detroit News reporter Oralandar Brand Williams at left taking photos.jpg

Davontae Sanford family and supporters after appeals court hearing August 6, 2013. Mother Taminko Sanford Tilmon and stepfather Jermaine Tilmon at right; paralegal Roberto Guzman in front; Detroit News reporter Oralandar Brand Williams at left taking photos.jpg

“He’s not guilty. He didn’t do it,” Smothers told AP reporter Ed White in a prison interview. “I understand what prison life is like; it’s miserable. To be here and be innocent – I don’t know what it’s like. He’s a kid, and I hate for him to do the kind of time they’re giving him.”

Smothers’ account of the murders matched forensic and ballistics evidence at the scene perfectly, while Davontae’s confession as a child of 14, naming three young friends who were never tried, was grossly inaccurate.

Self-described hit man Vincent Smothers also campaigned for Davontae's freedom, at risk to himself.

Self-described hit man Vincent Smothers also campaigned for Davontae’s freedom, at risk to himself.

Prosecutor Worthy’s office issued a statement, saying in part, “Today, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and the defense attempted to file a stipulated order to dismiss all charges against Sanford, without prejudice. However, Wayne County Third Circuit Court Judge Brian Sullivan signed an order vacating Sanford’s conviction and sentence, and directing that the Michigan Department of Corrections immediately release Sanford on his own recognizance. The court ordered the People to file a Motion to Dismiss the Case, which the court will review.”

A motion to dismiss charges WITHOUT prejudice means they can be brought back again when and if the Prosecutor desires. Worthy said SHE decided to call in the Michigan State Police to re-investigate the case, nine years after the fact, after Sanford’s attorneys from two Innocence Clinics filed a motion for relief from judgment in 2015.

“One year later, on May 20, 2016, the State Police submitted a report of their investigation,” the release says. “Included in that report is a recorded interview in which former Deputy Chief James Tolbert contradicts his sworn testimony that Davontae Sanford drew the entire diagram of the crime scene, including the location of the victims’ bodies, while being questioned by the police.  This called into question Tolbert’s credibility in the case.”

The statement says she will hold a press conference tomorrow, Thurs. June 9, at 10 a.m. in the 12th floor conference room of the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, located in the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice, 1441 St. Antoine Street, Detroit, Michigan.

Kevin DeMott is a mentally ill inmate with bipolar and personality disorders. Corrections officers at the Ionia Maximum Correctional Facility chained DeMott to his bed and secured a padded helmet to his head after he refused to stop banging his head against the wall, which is stained with blood. This is the prison where Davontae was held after the age of 15, at level 5./ Michigan Department of Corrections

Kevin DeMott is a mentally ill inmate with bipolar and personality disorders. Corrections officers at the Ionia Maximum Correctional Facility chained DeMott to his bed and secured a padded helmet to his head after he refused to stop banging his head against the wall, which is stained with blood. This is the prison where Davontae was held after the age of 15, at level 5./ Michigan Department of Corrections

Roberto Guzman, a paralegal who worked on behalf of the family, told VOD, “Worthy is not confessing wrongdoing . She knew about it all the time but she claims surprise now.”

He added that Sanford needs to “file a Section 183 claim for wrongful conviction, a claim for legal malpractice. They took away this child’s life. He’s going to need intense psychotherapy when he gets out. His damages are in the millions of dollars. He goes in there as a child and comes out as a man. Keep in mind the post-traumatic stress syndrome he will be suffering. It was a torture chamber in there for him. He was beaten up for breakfast, lunch and dinner by the guards.”

Taminko Sanford-Tilmon said Davontae and his family, with their attorneys, will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. Thursday, June 9 at a church in the Matrix Human Center, located at 13560 E. McNichols, in Detroit.

Above is video of Kym Worthy’s press conference filmed by Fox 2 News. This reporter was denied access to the press conference for having arrived 5 minutes late and then being told she would have to wait until an escort came down from the prosecutor’s office. It is clear from the video that the press conference started late, so there was no reason to deny this reporter access.

VOD’s commentary on the content of this press conference will be published later. Meanwhile, the stories VOD has done over the years, including coverage of the post-conviction hearings in front of Brian Sullivan and the Court of Appeals hearing, are listed below. They contradict many of Worthy’s allegations at the press conference.–Diane Bukowski

Related stories:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/06/04/child-killers-corrupt-and-killer-cops-and-kym-worthy/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/03/09/prayer-brunch-to-free-davontae-sanford-sat-march-12-falsely-convicted-as-child-of-14-now-23/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/04/19/davontae-sanford-moves-giant-step-closer-to-freedom-as-innocence-clinics-come-to-his-aid/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/12/23/mother-of-davontae-sanford-supporters-decry-pros-worthys-continued-persecution-of-her-son/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/10/22/families-demand-no-police-state-under-detroit-chief-craig-top-cops/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/09/27/victory-for-davontae-sanford-in-appeal-of-conviction-at-age-14-for-four-murders/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/08/10/davontae-sanfords-family-hopeful-after-appeals-court-hearing/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/08/04/free-davontae-sanford-appeals-court-hearing-tues-aug-6-2013-10-a-m/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/04/28/free-davontae-and-charles-justice-for-aiyana-and-trayvon/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/04/24/sanfordjones-rally-receives-broad-coverage-hit-man-signs-affidavit-to-free-davontae/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/04/24/stop-the-war-on-our-youth-davontae-aiyana-and-dad-trayvon-kenny-snodgrass-production/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/03/25/davontae-innocent-being-tortured-in-prison-judge-refuses-to-allow-real-killers-confession/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/02/07/ap-newsbreak-detroit-hit-man-says-davontae-sanford-is-innocent-will-testify/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/08/02/witness-detroit-hit-man-vincent-smothers-said-convicted-teen-davontae-sanford-had-no-role-in-slayings/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/07/19/davontae-sanford%e2%80%99s-innocence-v-detroit-police-and-prosecutors%e2%80%99-reputations/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/05/02/free-davontae-sanford-frank-murphy-court-tues-may-10-9-a-m-to-12-noon/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/01/15/free-davontae-sanford/

 


Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

JUDGE DISMISSES $30M MEDICAL MALPRACTICE SETTLEMENT FOR BLACK MOTHER, CHILD FOR $275,000

Lennette Williams, with daughter Mailauni at her right, listen as Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks. Photo: Portland Press Herald

Lennette Williams, with daughter Mailauni at her right, listen as Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks. Photo: Portland Press Herald

Lennette and Mailauni Williams (Rosa Parks’ godchild) targeted in agreement between Henry Ford Health Systems, Trustee Walter Sakowski

Probate Court Judge Terrance Keith to hold hearing Wed. June 8 2pm

Former Probate Court Chief Judge Milton Mack forced Williams into court despite earlier official’s advice that she could handle her own money

Trustee Walter Sakowski, dozens of others stripped estate with exorbitant fees, feasting off the suffering of a child afflicted with cerebral palsy

HFHS: “No comment” on whether it discriminates against patients of color

By Diane Bukowski

June 7, 2016

Arnetta Grable (center) and Cornell Squires (top right) have been some of the strongest supporters of Lennette and Mailauni Williams (at left). This photo is from an earlier hearing on police brutality. Williams has kept her daughter active in such events all her life.

Arnetta Grable (center) and Cornell Squires (top right) have been some of the strongest supporters of Mailauni and Lennette Williams (at left). Photo is from an earlier hearing on police brutality. Williams has kept her daughter active in such events all her life.

DETROIT – A $30 million settlement between Henry Ford Hospital and Lennette Williams, negotiated in 1984 to compensate her and her daughter Mailauni for gross negligence in the child’s 1981 birth, was slashed to $275,000 during a court hearing May 25 in front of Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Muriel Hughes.

Attorneys for Henry Ford Health Systems and Walter Sakowski, Trustee for the questionably legal “Mailauni R. Williams Irrevocable Trust,” agreed to the judgment.  Attorney Lee Stevens of the Bier Howlett law firm sent a notice of the “settlement” to Williams to have her sign, then called her and retracted his request, saying her signature was not needed. (See http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Williamssettlementproposal.pdf.)

A separate hearing in Probate Court in front of Judge Terrance Keith is set for tomorrow, Wed. May 8 at 2 p.m., during which Keith will decide how to divvy up the remaining pickings.

Mailauni suffers from severe cerebral palsy and brain damage. Her mother is unable to work a steady job due to permanent damage to her back and stomach. In 1981, HFH doctors refused at first to admit Williams, then refused to perform a Caeserean section, instead filling her full of drugs for 36 hours before Mailauni’s birth.

Judge Muriel Hughes

Judge Terrance Keith

Judge Terrance Keith

“I have more respect for a common thief who holds you up in the alley with a gun or a knife than I have for these racist maggots that target you in Probate Court,” said Williams, who is Black.

She has battled judges, lawyers, trustees, guardians, and police for decades, often acting pro se in court, fighting for the right to live peacefully with her daughter in their Grosse Pointe Farms home on the settlement proceeds, without having to beg for every penny of their money from various trustees.

Throughout their battles, Williams has received support from the Rosa and Raymond Parks estate, because Rosa Parks considered Mailauni her godchild, and from activists like Arnetta Grable of the Original Coalition Against Police Brutality and Cornell Squires of We the People for the People.

Officers of Wayne County Probate Bar Association including Walter Sakowski in white shirt)

Wayne County Probate Bar Association leaders including Walter Sakowski (in white shirt) and Probate Chief Judge Milton Mack (r).

Former Probate Court Chief Judge Milton Mack decided early on that a Black woman could not handle her own money, contradicting an opinion in 1986 from Mailauni’s guardian at litem (GAL) that Williams was perfectly capable of doing so.

The GAL recommended that the matter be left out of probate. Instead, probate judges, trustees, guardians and other court-appointed officials have raped the Williams estate for decades.

(To see the many dozens of times Williams has been subjected to demeaning hearings in on just one of three tracks in Probate Court, click on http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Mailauni-Williams-Trust-Probate-Court-Register.pdf.)

Williams compared her situation with that of the Grosse Pointe South High School students who published a racist video calling for the re-enslavement of Black people, but were punished with a simple suspension from school instead of arrest for a hate crime. (See part of video below.)

“The Grosse Pointe cops kicked my door down trying to take Mailauni, and Probate Judge Kathryn George sent me to jail for two weeks for contempt after I tried to speak out in her court in 2014,” Williams recalled. She said the Grosse Pointe community has represented nothing but “racism run amok” for her family, peppering them with racist hate letters and remarks. The City Council has agreed to repair the door the police broke down only if Williams does not sue.

Lennette Williams

Lennette Williams’ door after Grosse Pointe Farms police kicked it in.

The scene in the courtroom May 25 was no different. Walter Sakowski, trustee for the Mailauni R. Williams Irrevocable Trust, established without Williams’ consent in 1999, attorneys for Henry Ford Health System, and Judge Hughes are all white.

Sakowski testified cheerfully that he and HFHS had reached agreement on the $275,000, and said he would draft an order for Judge Hughes to sign.

“This agreement was not written with my consent,” Williams told Hughes, who responded that she had no say in the matter since she was not the Trustee or party to the trust.

“I’ve been trying to correct that in Probate Court for years,” Williams said. “But the judges, attorneys and guardians have been prejudiced and biased. They’ve conducted numerous ex parte proceedings. They set up the trust that way even though Henry Ford and everyone else knows there was no separation of moneys between me and my daughter in the original settlement.”

Mailauni Williams' high school graduation portrait.

Mailauni Williams’ high school graduation portrait.

She told Judge Hughes she planned to bring litigation challenging the violation of the 1984 settlement by an illegal Trust and by Henry Ford Hospital. Probate Court Judge Keith commended her skills in the litigation she has filed pro se throughout the years, during a hearing Oct. 24, 2014. He also said he had reviewed medical records indicating that Mailauni was expected to survive no longer than two and one half years after her birth.

Mailauni will celebrate her 35th birthday during the Christmas holidays this year, proving, Keith said, that “True love never fails against the greatest obstacles.”

Williams said at that hearing, “I love my daughter and have always taken care of her. I need my daughter and she needs me. I would die for my daughter. She is my hero. There are those who thought the hospital settlement was too much for people of color.”

She added, “I used to take her to the doctor, and he told me I did not have an M.D. But I have something better called love. God was working through me. Mailauni walked at 5, and danced to the music of Michael Jackson.” Mailauni later graduated from Grosse Pointe High School, as attested to by her graduation portrait which Williams proudly displays on the mantel of their living room fireplace.

Throughout hearings in Probate Court, Sakowski and other Trustees have claimed that the bankruptcy of Executive Life Insurance Company in New York, declared in 2012, is responsible for the reduction in funds available for the Williams estate. (See http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Executive-Life-Insurance-Company-Wikipedia.pdf.)

Defendants including judges, attorneys, trustees, court clerks and others who Williams says have ravaged original settlement, in affidavit with ELNY bankruptcy case.

Affidavit with ELNY bankruptcy case includes judges, attorneys, trustees, court clerks and others who Williams says have ravaged original settlement.

Strangely though, during the 2014 hearing, Sakowski said that under the bankruptcy ruling, there remained $869,000 in the Williams estate. Keith ordered that amount to be rendered forthwith so that Williams could provide needed repairs for her home, repairs that she had begged Sakowski and others for decades. Those repairs, including provision of a stove and refrigerator, have yet to be done.

Where did the other $594,000 go?

VOD contacted Henry Ford Health System spokesperson David Olejarz about the case, and put the following questions to him:

“Why cannot HFHS, with about $5 billion in assets, honor the original 1984 structured settlement agreement despite the bankruptcy of Executive Life of New York?

There has certainly been a lifetime of pain and suffering inflicted on this mother and daughter. Mailauni is now 34, and the settlement was structured with an assumption of a life expectancy for her of 73. How does HFHS expect she and her mother, who cannot work, to survive on $275,000 for the rest of their lives?”

Henry Ford Health Systems has at least $5 billion in assets.

Henry Ford Health Systems has at least $5 billion in assets.

VOD also asked how HFHS was handling any other such structured settlement insured by ELNY, and requested that HFHS specify the race of the patients involved.

“Does HFHS discriminate against its patients of color?” VOD concluded.

HFHS’ response through Olejarz: “Under a non-disclosure agreement, the parties are ordered by the court not to discuss the disposition of this case. We are honoring the court order.” Judge Hughes issued no such gag order during the May 25 hearing. Olejarz likely referred to an order issued in 1984 after the original settlement was reached.

Related stories:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/11/25/home-for-the-holidays-mailauni-williams-back-with-mom-after-6-month-kidnapping/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/24/rosa-parks-godchild-mailauni-williams-found-judge-george-guardian-rowan-removed-from-case/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/07/21/amber-alert-rosa-parks-godchild-mailauni-williams-missing-judge-kathryn-george-loots-estate-bars-mortgage-payments-on-her-home/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/06/16/shady-probate-judge-kathryn-george-jails-mom-seizes-daughter-and-estate/

http://www.metrotimes.com/detroit/mother-and-child-rebellion/Content?oid=2174098

#JusticeforLennetteandMailauni, #StopProbateCourtgrandtheft, #Saveourchildren, #Endracism, #Blackhomesmatter, #Beatbackthebullies


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CHILD KILLERS, CORRUPT AND KILLER COPS, AND KYM WORTHY


Grief for Deontae Mitchell, 13, and other Detroit children and babies dead in recent shooting sprees

BUT:

What about Lamar Grable, 20, Rodrick Carrington, and Darren Mitchell, killed by Detroit cop Eugene Brown, just sighted roaming free at the Belle Isle Grand Prix? Worthy refused to charge him despite internal report. 

What about Aiyana Jones, 7, killed by Detroit police military task force? Shooter Joseph Weekley freed with Worthy’s collusion. 

What about Terrance Kellom, 19, killed by police task force last year in father’s home?  Worthy refused to charge cops despite evidence.

What about Davontae Sanford, framed at the age of 14 by Detroit cops and prosecutors? Will Prosecutor Worthy free him after 9 years in prison? 

What about Kevin Matthews, 19, unarmed, killed by still unidentified white Dearborn cop in Detroit Dec. 23? Will Worthy charge him or Dearborn cops who killed Black Detroiter Janet White a month later? 

What about 167 Wayne County juvenile lifers whose sentences Worthy has previously endorsed?

VOD Editorial 

June 4, 2016 

From report on Detroit's Channel 7 News.

From report on Detroit’s Channel 7 News.

DETROIT – Hearts across Detroit are broken and grieving after news of the brutal kidnapping and death of Deontae Mitchell, 13, allegedly at the hands of a man or men old enough to be his father or grandfather.

The staff of VOD extends our deepest sympathy to Deontae’s family, friends and neighbors, and the children of Detroit, who have the absolute right to be protected by adults.

In recent months, children and babies have died in a rash of shooting sprees across the city’s poor neighborhoods. Similar violence is occurring in Chicago and other largely poor, Black and Latino cities across the U.S.

“The story of Deontae being senselessly killed over such a small amount of money is one that’s going to stay with us a long time, and I want Deontae’s family to know that this whole city is grieving with them,” Detroit “mayor” Mike Duggan said at a press conference. “When you lose a child in this community, it leaves a hole in the family, it leaves a hole in the neighborhood, it leaves a hole in their school. . . Officers said they’ve never seen anything like it. They had more than half a dozen individuals call with very valuable information.”

Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy

Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy/Photo Detroit Free Press

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s office announced today that she has charged Earnest Coleman, 26, of Detroit, with kidnapping Deontae, aided by others.

“The alleged facts in this case explicitly show that the lives of some of Detroit’s children continue to be less important than everything else‎ – in this case a few dollars dropped from a pocket,” Worthy said in the release. “May we all reexamine the worth of our children, and we in the criminal justice system will handle the senseless murder of Deontae.”

Whether Worthy, Craig or Duggan actually care about the lives of Detroit’s children, 59 percent of whom live in poverty, children who have watched as their schools and homes across the city are demolished with the blessings of city, county and state officials, children who are disproportionately sent to prison, is highly questionable.

Three-time killer cop Eugene Brown

BEWARE! Eugene Brown loose at Grand Prix

On June 3, an aunt of Lamar Grable, 20 when he was shot to death eight times by three-time killer cop Eugene Brown in 1996, spotted Brown on Belle Isle June 3 at the Grand Prix, with a name badge, evidently working in some official capacity.

She said she told him, “You’re the one who killed my nephew!” and that he asked her, “Who was that?” He might well have asked, since he also killed Rodrick Carrington in 1995 and Darren Miller in 1999. After the public disclosure of an internal police document recommending charges be brought against Brown for those killings, Worthy’s office refused again to charge him after Arnetta Grable and other family members of Brown’s victims met with her representatives.

Rodrick Carrington, Lamar Grable, Darren Miller, killed by cop Eugene Brown who was never charged.

Rodrick Carrington, Lamar Grable, Darren Miller, killed by cop Eugene Brown who was never charged.

Last year, Worthy refused to charge a federal agent and numerous Detroit police who invaded the father’s home of Terrance Kellom, 19, and shot him to death 8 times, once in the back. Police claimed he threatened them with a hammer, but Worthy reported at a press conference that his fingerprints were not found on the hammer.

Kellom leaves behind two very young children who will now have to grow up without the protection of their father in a world where children are killed for no sane reason.

Terrance Kellom and son

Terrance Kellom, 19, and son

Aiyana Jones

Aiyana Jones, 7

Worthy conspired with the defense and with Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway to get Detroit cop Joseph Weekley, Jr. off in the May 16, 2010 death of Aiyana Jones, 7, during a military-style police raid on her home.

Weekley fired the shot, heard round the world, that killed Aiyana, into the top of her head within seconds after entering her home, using an MP-5 submachine gun. Against regulations, he had the safety off and his finger on the trigger.

“They came to kill,” Aiyana’s grieving grandmother Mertilla Jones, who was sleeping on a front room couch with her favorite grandchild and witnessed the murder, told VOD.

Davontae Sanford, 14

Davontae Sanford, 14

Davontae Sanford, 22, still in prison

Davontae Sanford, 22

As Worthy considers issuing warrants in 13-year-0ld Deontae Mitchell’s case, she is also reviewing the results of a report from the Michigan State Police on the case of Davontae Sanford, 14 when he was falsely charged with killing four adults in an alleged drug house on Runyon Street.

The actual killer, admitted hit man Vincent Smothers, confessed to the police, to his attorney, and to Associated Press writer Ed White, that he and an associate killed the four people. He said he did not know Davontae and would never have used a 14-year-old child to aid him in a drug hit.

Craig said now that the Detroit police will re-investigate the case before Worthy decides whether to charge Smothers and his accomplice. Whether Worthy will admit error and withdraw the charges against Davontae remains to be seen, as she has claimed that he could have aided and abetted in the killing.

Taminko Sanford-Tilmon with family and friends of Davontae at prayer breakfast in Feb. 2016.

Taminko Sanford-Tilmon, mother of Davontae, with family and friends of Davontae at prayer breakfast in Feb. 2016.

Meanwhile, Davontae has become an adult in prison in the most brutal conditions, even experiencing torture at the hands of prison guards. He is now 22 years old.

Even the Detroit News editorial board just called on Worthy to free Sanford, declaring in part, “Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy should be standing at the courthouse door to apologize to Davontae Sanford when he walks in to resume his request for a new trial for a murder that by now Worthy and everyone else must know he didn’t commit. Standing next to her should be Detroit Police Chief James Craig to ask for forgiveness on behalf of the police department for its role in framing Sanford in the 2007 slayings.”

But Paralegal Roberto Guzman went further, calling on Worthy to use the prosecutor’s option of admitting error, and free Davontae immediately. He said the additional DPD investigation may only prolong the excruciating process for Davontae and his family.

Some of hundreds of protesters condemn justice system outside home where Terrance Kellom was killed. Photo: Kenneth Snodgrass

Some of hundreds of protesters condemn justice system outside home where Terrance Kellom was killed. Photo: Kenneth Snodgrass

“The American justice system is supposed to be better than a wretched process that allows the innocent to be railroaded through the arsenal by a corrupt cop that betrays the trust of a 14 year old mentally challenged kid,” Guzman said.

“It is supposed to be more than just labels about ‘innocent until proven guilty, ‘due process of law, and ‘a fair trial.’ If those terms are to have any meaning, then we should not allow a system as arbitrary and capricious as this that would frame a 14 year old kid into a bogus confession and then — to make matters worse — ignore post-conviction evidence of his innocence. That is indeed the worst crime, for it is the most egregious offense to all notions of due process of law.”

Worthy has also just received a request for a warrant in the death of unarmed, mentally challenged Detroiter Kevin Matthews on Christmas Eve last year, at the hands of a white Dearborn cop who chased him from Dearborn into Detroit.  Ominously, that cop remains unidentified.

Kevin Matthews: Hands up, don't shoot!

Kevin Matthews: Hands up, don’t shoot!

“The Detroit Police Department recently wrapped up its investigation of the Dec. 23 shooting of Kevin Matthews and it is now up to Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy to decide whether the shooting was justified,” The Dearborn Press and Guide reported June 1. . . “It is not known how long it will be before a decision is released.”

Earlier, Kevin Matthews’ family and attorney Milton Greenman released the results of a private autopsy by Dr. Bader J. Cassin which they said showed the cop’s culpability.

“Death was caused by multiple gunshot wounds. At least six bullets struck the body, one from very close range, and all coursed right-to-left and in an upward trajectory. Some of the wound paths were sharply upward.”

The Free Press reported that Greenman said there autopsy showed “evidence of intent” due to the multiple wounds.

The family of Kevin Matthews: l to r brother, mother, sisters Kimberly and Karen/Photo Kimberly Matthews FB

The family of Kevin Matthews: l to r brother Lavell, mother Valerie Johnson, sisters Kimberly and Karen with nephews /Photo Kimberly Matthews FB

Matthews’ sister Kimberly Matthews reported on Facebook that she and her mother met with Craig and his department heads April 26, who apologized for taking so long to do so. She said they seemed sincere, but in response to a comment, she added, “I felt from the meeting that they were just trying to pacify us….because we been marching….it is taking way too long.”

The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s office has not released results of its official autopsy of Kevin Matthews, nor that of Janet Wilson, a young Black Detroit woman shot to death by multiple Dearborn cops after leaving Fairlane Mall Jan. 27, despite requests by VOD. Worthy likewise earlier halted the release of Terrance Kellom’s autopsy, only to let his killers go free. There has also been no word from her office, which has jurisdiction over Dearborn, on whether anyone will be charged in Wilson’s death.

Janet Wilson, killed by Dearborn cops Jan. 28, 2016

Janet Wilson, killed by Dearborn cops Jan. 28, 2016

Worthy HAS made repeated statements at Michigan Legislative hearings opposing any remedy for 147 Wayne County children sent to die in prison, a/k/a juvenile life without parole (JLWOP). After two U.S. Supreme Court decisions declaring JLWOP unconstitutional,  she still has not retracted those statements.

Neither Detroit “mayor” Mike Duggan nor Police Chief James Craig, or previous mayors or police chiefs, ever made public statements about the deaths listed above, except for that of Lamar Grable. Previous Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer congratulated Eugene Brown, who had been part of his protection squad, for wearing a bulletproof vest during the shooting, and gave him an award for the unarmed young man’s brutal death. During a hard-fought civil trial years later, Brown finally admitted that he “may have” executed Grable by shooting him three times in the chest as he lay on the ground.

Both the Michigan Appeals and Supreme Courts denied the city’s appeal of a $4 million jury verdict in Grable’s death, citing that statement.

During her tenure, Worthy has refused to charge dozens of Detroit cops previously for clearly “unjustifiable” homicides, reported on by this writer in the pages of the now defunct Michigan Citizen and Voice of Detroit.

Families of killer cop Eugene Brown's victims and members of Original Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality demand Kym Worthy charge Brown after release of "Shoulders Report."

Families of killer cop Eugene Brown’s victims and members of Original Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality demand Kym Worthy charge Brown after release of “Shoulders Report.”

Related: (Stories from VOD cited below on the cases above are only a sampling of VOD’s coverage. To see more, put the names of those killed or framed by police into our search engine.)

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/opinion/editorials/2016/05/27/editorial-kym-worthy-must-free-man-wrongly-jailed/85018864/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/01/06/boycott-dearborn-charge-white-cop-who-executed-detroits-kevin-matthews-unarmed-harmless/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/12/25/family-mourns-detroits-kevin-matthews-killed-by-white-dearborn-cop-natl-march-jan-4-2016/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/02/04/dearborn-cops-kym-worthy-target-police-victim-terrance-kelloms-stepmom-hearing-fri-feb-5/  (includes information on Janet Wilson)

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/08/21/no-justice-for-young-detroit-dad-terrance-kellom-worthy-refuses-to-prosecute-killer-cops-again/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/04/19/davontae-sanford-moves-giant-step-closer-to-freedom-as-innocence-clinics-come-to-his-aid/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/02/weekley-shot-aiyana-instantly-gun-at-head-grandmother-says-weekley-grabbed-raid-sgt-s-gun-after-shooting/

#JailKillerCops, #JusticeforLamarRodrickDarrenAiyanaKevinJanet, #FreeDavontaeSanford, #StopPoliceBrutality, #EndPrisonNationPoliceState, #DownwithKymWorthy, #DownwithJamesCraig, #DownwithMikeDuggan


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BLACKANAW ISLAND 2016; SAT. JUNE 4, SUN. JUNE 5: MICHAEL IMHOTEP SPEAKS

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STOP TORTURING MICHIGAN’S JUVENILE LIFERS WITH STATE DELAYS! FREEDOM NOW!

Youtube Video above, published on Apr 26, 2016, produced for V.O.T.E by Alex Chemerinsky,  Mariah Branyan

State juvenile lifers who waited decades for USSC to declare JLWOP unconstitutional subjected to further anguish as state stalls release

 Of 364 cases, 8 convictions, including that of Charles Lewis, vacated and remanded to state trial courts after USSC Montgomery v. LA ruling, but under state statutes that are likely unconstitutional

Wayne County Chief Judge Robert Colombo appointing defense attorneys for re-hearings through SADO, co-opting defendants’ and trial judges’ choices 

Juvenile lifers, ACLU, SADO conflicted over best solutions

By Diane Bukowski 

June 1, 2016

Some of Michigan’s juvenile lifers: (l to r, top through bottom row), Cortez Davis, Raymond Carp, Dakotah Eliason, Henry Hill, Keith Maxey, Dontez Tillman, Charles Lewis, Jemal Tipton, Nicole Dupure, Giovanni Casper, Jean Cintron, Matthew Bentley, Bosie Smith, Kevin Boyd, Damion Todd, Jennifer Pruitt, Edward Sanders, David Walton (photos show some lifers at current age, others at age they went to prison).

Some of Michigan’s 364 juvenile lifers: (l to r, top through bottom row), Cortez Davis, Raymond Carp, Dakotah Eliason, Henry Hill, Keith Maxey, Dontez Tillman, Charles Lewis, Jemal Tipton, Nicole Dupure, Giovanni Casper, Jean Cintron, Matthew Bentley, Bosie Smith, Kevin Boyd, Damion Todd, Jennifer Pruitt, Edward Sanders, David Walton (photos show some lifers at current age, others at age they went to prison).

DETROIT –Despite two U.S. Supreme Court rulings declaring all juvenile life without parole sentences unconstitutional, Michigan’s 364 juvenile lifers, 147 of them from Wayne County, remain in limbo, as their cases face review under state statutes that often “do not provide a meaningful and realistic opportunity for release,” in the words of attorney Deborah LaBelle. 

Most have spent long decades in prison since childhood.

Their continued agonizing wait to experience justice under the USSC rulings in Miller v. Alabama (2012) and Montgomery v. Louisiana (2016) represents yet more “cruel and unusual punishment.”  The U.S. is the only country in the world that sends children to die in prison. The USSC and the United Nations have declared that practice “cruel and unusual and degrading,” with a UN expert adding that it amounts to “torture.”

Ironically, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan just announced, “The Obama administration awarded [Detroit] a $5 million grant to establish a new workforce initiative that in its initial phase will help place 1,500 Detroiters in full-time jobs, including our returning citizens. We have partnered with the Michigan Department of Corrections on an effort to train and prepare those who will be released for jobs before they leave so that they can step out of jail or prison and into a job.”

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan

Detroiters Charles Lewis, Edward Sanders, and Damion Todd want the chance to benefit from that grant and other resources NOW. Lewis and Sanders have spent 41 years in prison, while Todd has been incarcerated for 30 years, all since the age of 17.

“I’m hoping God will touch everybody’s hearts so they will give me and others a second chance,” Charles Lewis said prior to a post-conviction hearing May 26 on his case. He was likely falsely charged with first-degree murder in 1976. He just celebrated his 59th birthday at Lakeland Correctional Facility May 13, miles away from his loved ones.

“I represent a lot of juveniles coming behind me,” he went on. “Whatever I say or do is going to affect others. A lot of guys are waiting and wondering what is going to happen to me.” Lewis spoke on courtroom video as he awaited another post-conviction hearing in front of Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Qiana Lillard May 26.

Judge Lillard announced at the hearing that  the Michigan Supreme Court had vacated Lewis’ sentence May 24 (under orders from the USSC), and remanded his case to the Wayne Circuit Court for re-sentencing pursuant to the state statutes, MCL 269.25 and MCL 269.25a. (See order at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Charles-Lewis-MSC-order-on-USSC-remand.pdf).

Charles Lewis

Charles Lewis

Lewis said  the USSC has so far remanded the cases of seven other state juvenile lifers, among those who pursued their appeals under the Miller and Montgomery rulings to the nation’s highest court.

“I don’t think that the Statute[s] that became effective in 2014 should apply to me,” in a JPay email to VOD, he said. “My resentencing was granted by Judge [Edward] Ewell on October 17, 2012. How can they apply a statute to me that became effective in 2014? My situation is unique because to my knowledge I am the only one that was granted a resentencing by the trial court [prior to 2014].”

The USSC first declared juvenile life without parole sentences unconstitutional in  in 2012 in Miller, then affirmed that its ruling was retroactive in Montgomery on Jan. 25 this year.  Since then, Michigan’s county prosecutors have been scrambling to set up re-hearings under state statutes passed in 2014 anticipating, and likely sabotaging, such a ruling.

Miller boxThe state statutes, MCL 769.25 and 769.25a, provide for a portion of juvenile lifers to be automatically re-sentenced to terms of years, a minimum of 25-40 and a maximum of 60 years. They also provide for county prosecutors to select which juvenile lifers will receive full Miller re-sentencing hearings.

But Miller requires that ALL juvenile lifers receive hearings taking into account numerous special factors related to their youth. Since Miller and Montgomery, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court essentially upheld U.S. District Court Judge Corbett O’Meara’s 2013 ruling that all Michigan juvenile lifers should be eligible for parole after 10 years and also left open the possibility of a challenge to the state statutes.

During Lewis’ hearing, his court-appointed attorney Felicia O’Connor of Foley & Lardner withdrew as counsel with little to say other than that she and her client differed on trial “strategy.”

Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Jason Williams said that Circuit Court Chief Judge Robert Colombo is appointing defense attorneys where needed, and has handed off all of Wayne County’s cases to the State Appellate Defenders’ Office (SADO). Attorney Peter Van Hoek of SADO earlier told VOD they were not contesting the state statutes, but claimed that under them, all juvenile lifers WOULD receive hearings.

Further hearings on Lewis’ case in front of Lillard have been suspended until the appointment of new counsel. Normally, the trial judge is responsible for such appointments, but Lillard said she would recommend Lewis’ choice of an attorney to Chief Judge Colombo. Lewis has since contacted VOD, to say that attorney Valerie Newman of SADO contacted him regarding his attorney assignment, and that he was actually favorably impressed by her courtroom defense record. He said she told him she is filing an appearance as his counsel, but that he may receive other counsel from SADO. Newman is coordinating the project.

The Sixth Amendment guarantees a defendant’s right to counsel, and the USSC has generally upheld the right to counsel of one’s choice. Where the defendant has no specified attorney, the trial court normally appoints one, not the Chief Judge.

Also during Lewis’ hearing, Lillard promised, but did not officially order, an examination of a document signed by then Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Gershwin Drain, dated April 3, 2000, dismissing Lewis’ conviction and sentence, as well as an UNSIGNED (rubber stamped) 2012 order by Drain, refusing to carry out that order, declaring it fraudulent. (See below).

CLGDstamp

Lillard then promised, but did not rule, that she would assign independent parties to search for three cartons of Lewis’ court files. They conveniently disappeared after a prison counselor found the 2000 order by Judge Drain vacating Lewis’ conviction and sentence, ten years after the fact, in files sent to the prison by the Wayne County Clerk’s office.

Lewis has since protested his continued incarceration. He says an earlier Michigan Supreme Court ruling, People v Adkins, 436 Mich 878; 461 NW2d 366 (1990), held that in a similar case where court files had disappeared, the prisoner must be immediately released.

Lewis’ next hearing, according to the Third Judicial Circuit Court website, is set for June 10, in front of Judge Lillard.

Atty. Dawn Van Hoek, Director of SADO

Atty. Deborah LaBelle

Atty. Deborah LaBelle, with Mich. ACLU

Attorney Dawn Van Hoek, who heads SADO, had not returned a call for comment on whether their standing on the state statutes has changed since the Hill v. Snyder decision, before publication of this story. Likewise, VOD has not yet heard from Attorney Deborah LaBelle, who with the Michigan chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) won the Sixth Circuit decision, regarding whether the ACLU will challenge the state statutes.

The conflict between SADO and the ACLU over the matter is reflected among juvenile lifers, including Edward Sanders, who has served 41 years and hoped to be released immediately under the state statutes.

Edward Sanders with daughter Shay in photo taken about 20 years ago.

Edward Sanders with daughter Shay in photo taken about 20 years ago. He said she recently visited him again.

“Just because the Sixth Circuit action was a + for the ACLU and – for the AG (Attorney General) doesn’t mean that the State can’t or will not act under the statute,” he wrote to VOD. “They have every right to and will do so. The question is will they do so in good faith. . . .The cases of JLWOP will move on unless the ACLU files an action to stop them and the court will only take such an action after we demonstrate real harm. This may be the case with the good time with the older cases. Once good time is used against the time that inmates have served it will in some cases allow us to be released upon resentencing by the trial court. The AG knows this no matter what the state law says and to not to do the right thing will be not acting in good faith.”

MCL 769.25 says in part, “A defendant who is sentenced under this section shall be given credit for time already served but shall not receive any good time credits, special good time credits, disciplinary credits, or any other credits that reduce the defendant’s minimum or maximum sentence.”

Juvenile lifer Damion Todd wrote VOD on May 19, “I am constantly in a state of anxiety, as I eagerly await future Miller/Montgomery re-sentencing hearings, and/or a Hill parole board interview. I am prepared, as I have just finished completing another class (Personal Enrichment and Parole Readiness . . .) geared toward either one of these proceedings. I have been personally preparing myself for such relief long before the Roper v. Simmons (2005) case. Which is why I’m certain I’m experiencing so much anxiety. To counter these anxious feelings, I continue to work out, listen to my music, and engage in meaningful conversations. I have so many creative thoughts, questions, ideas, etc. that I want to put into practice now.”

Damion Todd after 30 years in prison.

Damion Todd after 30 years in prison.

He said he is currently working with a group of juvenile lifers at Kinross Correctional Facility in Michigan’s upper peninsula to facilitate more classes.

Todd, who is now 47, was charged with first-degree murder in 1986 at the age of 17, for the killing of a young woman which happened during a dispute between two groups of youths. It remains unclear who pulled the trigger.

He says the family of the young woman who was killed and the suffering they have experienced are extremely important to him. The young woman’s mother wrote him, “I forgive you Damion, and I want you to promise me that when you come home that you won’t let me and your family down.”

Todd says the mother has been on his visiting list for years and visited regularly before his change of location to inaccessible places like the Upper Peninsula, and the deterioration of her health over the last 30 years.

“Although one of my immediate goals is to be the best person I can under these conditions,” Todd said, “I am constantly and diligently working towards being a productive FREE MAN in society which is something I’ve never experienced before BECAUSE I CAME TO PRISON AS A CHILD.”

Related:

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/3/9/un-expert-slams-us-as-only-nation-to-sentence-kids-to-life-without-parole.html

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/opinion/2016/06/02/prisoner-re-entry-detroit-comeback/85268614/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/05/24/free-charles-lewis-innocent-juvenile-lifer-who-has-spent-41-years-in-state-prisons/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/05/18/michigan-juvenile-lifers-score-6th-circuit-appeals-court-victory-in-hill-v-snyder/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/04/30/why-is-juvenile-lifer-charles-lewis-still-in-prison-16-yrs-after-his-case-was-dismissed/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/04/12/dying-in-prison-michigan-juvenile-lifers-get-new-hope-under-montgomery-still-face-obstacles/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/03/06/mich-supreme-court-hears-3-key-cases-today-re-ussc-ruling-barring-mandatory-juvenile-life-without-parole/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/02/12/u-s-judge-rules-all-michigan-juvenile-lifers-eligible-for-parole/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/02/12/juvenile-lifer-reflects-on-hill-ruling-by-judge-omeara/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/01/10/michigan-juvenile-lifers-justice-delayed-is-justice-denied-re-sentencing-in-key-detroit-case-cortez-davis-jan-25/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/10/28/michigans-juvenile-lifers-want-state-to-comply-with-u-s-supreme-court-ruling/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/10/28/michigans-juvenile-lifers/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/08/16/michigan-challenges-u-s-supreme-court-ruling-on-juvenile-life-without-parole/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/07/02/us-supreme-courts-juvenile-lifer-decision-brings-hope-to-thousands/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/07/02/nations-high-court-ends-mandatory-life-without-parole-sentences-for-youth/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/03/18/us-supreme-court-to-hear-key-juvenile-lifer-homicide-cases-march-20-2012/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/03/04/juvenile-lifer-anthony-jones-wins-new-sentence-battle-for-justice-for-all-juvenile-and-parolable-lifers-still-needed/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/11/12/us-supreme-court-agrees-to-hear-juvenile-lifer-cases-could-have-major-impact-in-michigan/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/11/11/why-michigan-has-more-juvenile-life-sentences-than-almost-any-other-state/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/09/06/battle-for-juvenile-lifers-picks-up-steam-in-michigan-california/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/03/06/voice-of-juvenile-defendants/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2010/11/24/aclu-lawsuit-challenges-life-without-parole-for-michigan-juveniles/

#FreeMichiganJuvenileLifersNOW, #SaveOurChildren, #PrisonNation, #ENDMassIncarceration, #SchooltoPrisonPipeline, #Breakdownthewalls, #Beatbackthebullies, #Blacklivesmatter, #BlacklivesmatterDetroit, #Blackkidslivesmatter#StandUpNow, #StopWaronBlackAmerica, #StopWaronourYouth, #Michissippigoddam


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