Dearborn cop shot the unarmed Matthews nine times after boxing him in a Detroit backyard 3 blocks from his home
“Two, perhaps three of the gunshots . . .were at such close range to the right chest of . . .Kevin Matthews that stippling is detected on the autopsy report . . .the gun barrel . . .was resting upon or in immediate proximity of the right chest of the body . . .such that burn evidence exists on the body.” — Lawsuit
No charges brought by Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy in Matthews’ case, or that of Janet Wilson, to date.
By Diane Bukowski
Oct. 29, 2016
Mayor Jack O’Reilly with Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad swear in new recruits (l to r) Bryan Fox, Christopher Hampton, and Andrew Galuska, July 24, 2010. The vast majority of the Dearborn force is white. /Photo: Dearborn Press and Guide
DETROIT — Despite the unspeakable brutality a white Dearborn cop used to execute Kevin Matthews with nine gunshots in a Detroit backyard Dec. 23, 2015, described in an autopsy report and lawsuit released Oct. 23, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has yet to act on a warrant request from the Detroit Police Department issued in May.
“A charging decision has not been made on the Kevin Matthews case, or the Janet Wilson case at this point,” Worthy’s communications chief Maria Miller told VOD. “Although there is not an exact date, I expect that our review of the cases should be winding up over the coming weeks.”
Terrance Kellom’s daughter, born after father’s death.
Janet Wilson, another unarmed Black Detroiter like Matthews, was shot to death at least four times by Dearborn Corporal James Wade III outside the Fairlane Town Center on Jan. 27, 2016, as she sat in her car after leaving the Center. Police claimed she tried to run them down, but photos show they boxed her in. Her family filed a $10 million lawsuit against the Dearborn police in August.
Worthy earlier refused to charge a federal I.C.E. agent and Detroit police who invaded the home of Kevin Kellom and shot his 19-year-old son Terrance Kellom to death eight times, after a similarly long wait. The cops claimed Kellom advanced on them with a hammer, but Worthy admitted at a press conference that the teen’s fingerprints were not on the hammer.
His stepmother Yvette Johnson was later stopped without legal cause by Dearborn police officer Cpl. Daniel J. Goebel, as she traveled in a jitney Jan. 21, 2016 from 19401 Hubbard, the address for Henry Ford Medical Center in Fairlane.
Janet Wilson/family photo
Kevin Matthews with young relatives/Facebook
Neither Worthy, the Dearborn police, nor the Matthews family attorney have yet released the name of the cop who gunned down Matthews, although attorney Milton Greenman said the cop’s name and history is known to him.
“This is the 10-month anniversary of Kevin’s death,” his sister Kimberly Matthews told VOD during a press conference at the Book-Cadillac hotel. “We want the officer charged and convicted. My family is still grieving and we are not doing very well.”
Earlier, a day after her brother’s death, she said, “My brother was very loving, he was my closest sibling,” she said. “Every time I saw him he told me he loved me, and he would kiss me. We talked on the phone every day. He was a family-oriented person, the person in our family that made everybody laugh, that made everybody feel special. He is going to be a big loss. He was the star of this family, just the sweetest, loving, caring person. We want justice and we are going to fight this all the way. We are not going to let my brother die in vain.”
Family members were part of a large march for justice in Dearborn Jan. 4, 2016. At center is Kevin Matthews’ brother Lavell Matthews; to his right is mother Valerie Johnson; Kimberly Matthews is 2nd from right.
Matthews’ large extended family packed the room where Attorneys Greenman and Eric Proulx, of the Thurswell Law Firm, announced the lawsuit. His mother Valerie Johnson told the gathering, “Kevin meant a lot to me. Without him, I don’t know how I can be. I don’t care. I’ll wait a long time. Just get justice for my son.”
Matthews was trying to get back to his mother’s house on Sussex, where he lived, three blocks from where he was killed, when he was gunned down. The cop who killed him claimed he was wanted to arrest him on a misdemeanor warrant. Neighbors in the area have said that the cop knew Matthews, knew that he suffered from mental illness, and had a history of stopping and harassing him.
New Era Detroit marches outside Dearborn Police HQ on Christmas Day, 2015. Photo: NED
Members of the New Era Detroit organization attended the press conference in force. They marched outside the Dearborn Police Department on Christmas Day last year, as part of a series of angry protests in December and January including mass marches down Michigan Avenue and a call for Detroiters to boycott Dearborn.
On Oct. 23, NED members called on Detroiters “to get up off their couches and rise up” against the ongoing wave of racist police killings here and across the U.S.
The lawsuit says in part, “That in order to effect the arrest of . . .Kevin Matthews, Defendant City of Dearborn Police Officer and Shooter John Doe reverted to the use of excessive force and shot his departmental issued handgun . . . a total of nine times into the chest and torso of . . .Kevin Mathews, and in essence, executing [him] as a result of his failure to stop during the aforesaid foot pursuit.”
Diagram from Matthews’ autopsy report. The gunshot wounds shown in bottom sketch underneath arm, with rings around them, are the ones referred to as close range in lawsuit.
It adds, “That two, perhaps three of the gunshots . . .were at such close range to the right chest of . . .Kevin Matthews that stippling is detected on the autopsy report . . .which identifies that the gun barrel . . .was resting upon or in immediate proximity of the right chest of the body of . . .Kevin Matthews . . .such that burn evidence exists on the body.”
It also says that Dearborn and its police department have a history of discriminatory treatment of Blacks.
“Defendant City of Dearborn has repeatedly permitted and condoned actions and activities of its police force and its police officers to undertake unlawful and unequal treatment . . .against African-Americans in and around the City of Dearborn jurisdiction.”
It cites a particularly egregious remark by Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly, who claimed the cop who killed Matthews “actually had a relationship with the man that he shot, a positive relationship. He brought him home at times. He had done things. He knew him well.”
In a series of probing articles on MLive.com, reporter Gus Burns traced the background of Wilson’s killer.
Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly
“Dearborn Police Cpl. James Wade III was warned or disciplined for unnecessarily endangering himself or others at least three times leading up to the fatal shooting of a Janet Wilson in January,” Burns wrote Oct. 23.
“Three prior incidents involving Wade — the injury of an alleged drunk man being escorted to jail Dec. 27, 2014; the arrest of four people at Fairlaine Town Center mall April 9, 2015, whom security kicked out and claimed might have a gun; and a near-collision while trying to stop a fleeing vehicle April 1, 2012 — were all recorded on in-car or jail video systems and reviewed as part of internal investigations.”
He said the City of Dearborn has refused most of MLive’s requests for copies of the videos. Protests across the U.S. have forced the release of such dashcam videos since the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. in August, 2014. Dearborn did release a dashcam video of the Fairlane Town Center mall incident showing the brutal means Wade and other cops used to arrest four Blacks on April 9, 2015, which MLive published.
Next door to Dearborn, Dearborn Heights cops covered up at first for Theodore Wafer after he shot unarmed Black Detroiter Renisha McBride, 19, to death on his porch in November, 2013 although she presented no threat to him as he viewed her through a heavy locked front door. But he opened the door and shot her to death through the screen.
Renisha McBride, 19
Wafer was convicted of second-degree murder in front of Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Dana Hathaway, and received a sentence of up to 17 years.
An appeals court recently upheld his conviction, but ruled that he has the right to be re-sentenced below state sentencing guidelines.
The City of Inkster, adjacent to Dearborn Heights, finally released videos showing cop William Melendez nearly beating Detroit autoworker Floyd Dent to death on Jan. 28, 2015, after Attorney Gregory Rohl undertook Dent’s defense on false charges of cocaine possession. Channel Four’s Kevin Dietz kept the investigation alive, finally forcing the city to release more videos of Dent’s humiliating treatment, including withholding medical care, inside the Inkster police department headquarters.
Floyd Dent (r) and atty. Gregory Rohl speak to media including Kevin Dietz of Channel 4 (l) after Melendez’ sentencing.
Melendez was eventually charged with assault with intent to do great bodily harm, and sentenced to 13 months to 10 years by Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Vonda Evans.
The Michigan Department of Corrections, however, independently transferred Melendez to a boot camp. He is likely to be paroled shortly before even his minimum sentence expires.
Melendez earlier conducted a reign of terror as a Detroit cop, killing two men and framing, harassing, and threatening death to others on Detroit’s poor southwest side. His actions earned him the nickname “Robocop.”
Wm. Melendez MDOC photo
Such lenient treatment by the courts is not available for Michigan’s 363 juvenile lifers, some of whom have spent decades behind bars for crimes committed as children. Most of them are Black or Latin.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled twice that juvenile life without parole is unconstitutional on a retroactive basis, and constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment.”
But Michigan lawmakers sabotaged the USSC’s rulings by instituting state sentencing statutes that allow judges to re-sentence juvenile lifers to up to 40-60 years, meaning that some will wait 20 to 30 years before seeing the parole board.
(L) CHARLES LEWIS, 58, IN PRISON SINCE 17, MAINTAINS INNOCENCE, FILED MOTION TO DISMISS DUE TO LOSS OF CASE FILE; HIS SADO ATTY. VALERIE NEWMAN FILED FOR “TERM OF YEARS”—HEARING FRIDAY OCTOBER 28 @ 9 AMTop row, l to r from Wayne County: Timothy Kincaid, 54, in prison since 1982, resentencing set for Friday, Nov. 4 at 9AM in front of Judge James Callahan; Edward Sanders, 58, in prison since age 17 in 1975, David Walton, 59, in prison since age 17 in 1975, Cortez Davis, 39, in prison since 1994. Bottom row, l to r from Kent County: Giovanni Casper, 27, in prison since 17, got 40-60; Juan Cantu, 37, in prison since 16, got 40-60 yrs; Ahmad Williams, 33, in prison since 15, got 25-60, parole eligibility two years; Saul Montalvo, 36, in prison since 1996 at 17, got 25-60, eligible for parole in five years. Parole eligibility does not guarantee parole; Michigan parole board releases low percent of prisoners, says it will treat “juvenile lifers” the same as any other prisoners.
Others asking supporters to attend their hearings as well, send letters to judges; next hearing for Timothy Kincaid is Friday, November 4 @ 9AM
“When they sent my son to prison, they told me he would never get out, and that I could not even claim his body after he died.”—Rosie Lewis, mother of Charles Lewis
SADO uses same court precedents Lewis cited in his motion to dismiss, but asks instead for ‘term of years.’
Juvenile lifers appear in court in handcuffs, chains and jail scrubs instead of street clothes
Michigan juvenile lifers will not go home immediately; many will wait decades to see the parole board under state statutes
By Diane Bukowski
October 25, 2016
DETROIT – Hundreds of Michigan prisoners serving what the U.S. Supreme Court has twice declared are unconstitutional juvenile life without parole sentences may end up dying in prison as Michigan originally intended, under 2014 state statutes MCL 769.25 and MCL 769.25a.
CHARLES LAMONT LEWIS, DETROIT
Rosie Lewis and her first-born child Charles Lewis, shortly after he was incarcerated for life at the age of 17.
“When they sent my son to prison, they told me he would never get out, and that I could not even claim his body after he died,” Rosie Lewis, mother of juvenile lifer Charles Lewis, her first-born child, told VOD tearfully. Lewis has been incarcerated for 41 years since the age of 17 for a crime both he and eyewitnesses say he did not commit.
This Friday, Oct. 28, at 9 a.m. Lewis will again appear in Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Qiana Lillard’s courtroom at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice, Rm. 501.
She is to rule on Lewis’ motion to dismiss his case due to the complete loss of his court file, dating from 1977. His motion cites three U.S. Supreme and State Court rulings which vacated the convictions and sentences of defendants due to the partialloss or corruption of their files. Those defendants were not subjected to automatic re-sentencing but to automatic release. The cases are Michigan v. Adkins, Michigan v. Abdella, and, in the USSC, Chessman v. Teets (1957). (Motion at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/CLmotion-3.pdf)
Charles Lewis at court hearing Oct. 11. Juvenile lifers across the state are being forced to appear in court in jail garb and handcuffs.
Judge Lillard will also rule on a motion she requested Atty. Valerie Newman of the State Appellate Defender’s Office (SADO) to file. Newman asks for automatic re-sentencing to a “term of years” for Lewis, not release. Filed Oct. 21, long after Lewis’ Sept. 24 motion, it cites the same U.S. and Michigan Supreme and Appellate Court precedents Lewis used.
Newman contradicts her proposed remedy in the motion.
Newman earlier told the Detroit News, “The bottom line is we’re not opening the doors and letting them all out — there will be a process and a hearing and some will be determined unfit for release. And there will still be parole hearings.”
The News added, “Gov. Rick Snyder has recommended adding $1.1 million to the state budget to fund 11 full-time employees at the State Appellate Defenders Office for compliance with the Supreme Court ruling.”
Corner at Harper and Barrett near where off-duty police officer Gerald Sypitowski was killed Jan. 31, 1975.
SADO told VOD from the outset that it would not challenge the state statutes, but they are being challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union in an ongoing lawsuit, Hill v. Snyder.
If Lewis is subjected to the jurisdiction of the parole board, as Newman wants, the same question arises—how will they determine THEIR decision without his full court file?
“They can’t sentence me because of the loss of my files, and if Judge Lillard does sentence me, it would be unconstitutional,” Lewis told VOD. “I will appeal, and a higher court would have to overturn it. I told Atty. Newman I would never agree to being re-sentenced to 40-60 years under the state statutes.”
He added, “This affects not just me but the majority of juvenile lifers who were convicted because they had bad court-appointed attorneys Now I have another one. Atty. Newman is not arguing from a position of strength, but from a position of weakness. I sent her crime scene photos that show there’s no way I could have killed the officer in question. I have alibi witnesses and eyewitnesses who say I did not kill him, but she has refused to call them.”
Lewis was convicted of killing off-duty Detroit police officer Gerald Swypitowski in 1976, despite the testimony of six eyewitnesses, including the officer’s partner, who identified another man as the perpetrator. Lewis’ court-appointed attorney never called his alibi witnesses at trial.
APA Jason Williams and Attorney Valerie Newman at Charles Lewis’ hearing Oct. 11. His mother Rosie Lewis is in rear row center, behind woman in white blouse. Neither attorney addressed Lewis during the hearing. Williams did not respond to Lewis’ question about how he planned to prosecute him with no court file.
Lewis is a true fighter, a writer, and a musician, who has often filed his own excellently written and researched appeals in state and federal court since his incarceration.
“I guess I’m addicted to the struggle,” he told VOD.
But he is now 58, has suffered three heart attacks in recent years for which he has received inadequate care from the Michigan Department of Corrections, and has a severe case of diabetes.
“Our Legislature amended the juvenile sentencing statute to ostensibly follow Miller,” Former Wayne County Prosecutor John O’Hair said in a broadly published column. “The statute retained the ability to impose a life without parole sentence and allowed the courts to impose a minimum sentence of 25 to 40 years, and a maximum sentence of 60 years. With the average life expectancy of a juvenile serving life without parole at 50.6 years, 40 and 60-year sentences are virtual life sentences.”
Chief Criminal Judge Timothy Kenny.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy
VOD has just been notified by General Counsel Richard Lynch that the prosecutor’s motion for Charles Lewis will be available tomorrow. So far, VOD has not been able to obtain copies of Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s motions for all 147 Wayne County juvenile lifers, although such motions are public record.
Worthy filed the motions June 22, including 63 asking for re-sentencing to JLWOP, the highest actual number of any county in Michigan. The motions are allegedly being held away from legally mandated public access in Chief Criminal Court Judge Timothy Kenny’s office.
Lewis is asking that supporters of the U.S. Constitution and the right of Michigan juvenile lifers not to die in prison come out in substantial numbers prior to and during his hearing and hearings of other juvenile lifers, proceeding across the state.
JUAN CANTU, GRAND RAPIDS
Juan Cantu of Grand Rapids stands with SADO attorney Valerie Newman (r) as he listens to judge sentence him to 40-60 years. Photo: MLive
Juan Cantu’s case demonstrates just how severely the State of Michigan is flying in the face of the U.S. Supreme Court rulings in its juvenile lifer re-sentencings. He is from Grand Rapids and is now 37.
“A 16-year-old would know, I believe, how very, very wrong the things that you and your co-defendant did that day were,” Kent County Circuit Judge Paul Sullivan said, according to an article in MLive. “There’s no getting around it.”
Sullivan must not have bothered to read the Miller decision, whose whole substance is that juveniles differ from adults in their capacity for impulse control and understanding of the consequences of their actions, among other factors. Miller says, however, that juveniles are more capable of rehabilitation than adults. (See link below.)
On Oct. 12, Sullivan sentenced Cantu to the maximum 40-60 years recommended by the Kent County Prosecutor, who said he did not recommend JLWOP because of Cantu’s role as an accomplice in a 1996 shooting death. Cantu is now 37.
Kent County Judge Paul Sullivan: “There’s no getting around it.”
Another participant who was not charged testified that Cantu played a minor role in the kidnapping and killing of the victim, according to a Court of Appeals decision which vacated his sentences other than that for felony murder. That decision was evidently overturned later, as Cantu still faces 50-80 years for the kidnapping.
Cantu was 16 and had an eighth-grade education in 1986. He will not be parole eligible for 20 years for the felony murder charge.
Cantu was also represented by Newman. A SADO spokesperson told VOD earlier that SADO did not plan to challenge the state statutes, although they are currently being challenged in an ongoing ACLU class action lawsuit, Hill v. Snyder.
TIMOTHY KINCAID, DETROIT
Juvenile lifer Timothy Kincaid, now 54, will appear in front of Wayne County Circuit Court Judge James Callahan on Nov. 4 at 9 a.m. He was 16 when he was charged as an accomplice to an older man in three 1976 murders. VOD attended a hearing in his case June 27.
“I didn’t think there was any reason for doubt after the Miller v. Alabama ruling,” Court Judge Callahan said, regarding Miller’s retroactivity. But Michigan courts held out for four years until the Montgomery decision before proceeding with re-sentencing, after sabotaging the Supreme Court intent with its 2014 state statutes.
Kincaid’s friend, Minister Ervin Bell, said, ““I’ve known him since childhood. Me and little Tim hung out together just about every day. But I clearly remember the day that [an older man] pulled up on us in his ’77 Fleetwood. Tim was blinded by the flash. Whatever part he played in the murders, he was forced to play. He was not the type to try to hurt anybody.”
Vivian Kincaid speaks at Wayne State University forum
This characteristic of youths to be susceptible to older individuals and to peer groups is cited in the Miller decision.
Kincaid’s attorney, Gerald Evelyn, said he was “guardedly optimistic” that Callahan would give Kincaid the minimum sentence of 25 years and that he would be immediately paroled. He said a woman who was injured during the multiple murders and is in a wheelchair plans to come to court to ask for Kincaid’s release.
During the time Kincaid has been incarcerated, he lost his mother. He is also hoping for the release of his older brother Waymon Kincaid, who has spent decades in prison as a “parolable lifer.”
His younger sister Vivian Kincaid has been active for years in movements for justice for both juvenile and parolable lifers, and against U.S. policies of mass incarceration.
GIOVANNI CASPER, GRAND RAPIDS
Giovanni Casper with his mother. Photo: ACLU
“I’m not the same person I was 10 years ago,” Giovanni Casper said in an MLive article. “I made a terrible decision that night. I think about it constantly. The night I killed Kenneth Dear. I didn’t understand the pain I was actually causing his family, agony, anguish. It’s just something I didn’t understand.”
Casper was sentenced to JLWOP for first-degree murder in Dear’s 2006 shooting, after a fight broke out between two groups of youths at a roller skating rink in Kentwood when he was 16.
Casper is a named plaintiff in the ACLU’s class-action lawsuit against juvenile life without parole in Michigan, Hill v. Snyder. U.S. District Court Judge John Corbett O’Meara ruled in response to the lawsuit in 2013 that Michigan juvenile lifers are ALL subject to parole after serving 10 years.
Giovanni Casper now.
The ACLU said Giovanni was a high school drop-out and functionally illiterate.
“Upon arrest, police interrogated Giovanni for hours without a parent present,” the ACLU said in a report on juvenile lifers.
“The officers wrote out a statement and told Giovanni that if he signed it, he could go home. Giovanni did not meet with his court appointed attorney until the first day of trial. His attorney did not call any witnesses on his behalf and, against his wishes, would not allow Giovanni to testify. Giovanni’s attorney never informed him that a plea was offered.
“When Giovanni received his paperwork after sentencing, he learned that the prosecutor had proposed a term of 13–22 years in exchange for a guilty plea. Giovanni remembers that his attorney asked him to sign a number of papers during trial but, because he could not read, he did not realize he was rejecting a plea offer. Since his incarceration Giovanni has learned to read and write, and has also obtained his GED.”
Kent County Judge Dennis Leiber
Kent County Circuit Judge Dennis Leiber re-sentenced Casper to 40 to 60 years in prison. He will not be eligible for parole for 30 years, when he is 56, if he survives that long.
U.S. District Court Judge John Corbett O’Meara ruled in 2013 that ALL Michigan juvenile lifers are eligible for parole after 10 years. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals supported his ruling, but sent it back to him for updating.
The state has now moved to dismiss Hill v. Snyder. A hearing will be held Thurs. Nov. 3 at 10 a.m. in Judge O’Meara’s court in Ann Arbor. The ACLU intends to present strong arguments against dismissal, said Attorney Deborah LaBelle.
EDWARD SANDERS, DAVID WALTON, DETROIT
Childhood friends Edward Sanders and David Walton were 17 years old in 1975 when they were caught up in a nightmare largely involving the heavy use of alcohol sold to them by multiple store owners where they grew up, who violated the law in doing so.
Edward Sanders with VOD editor Diane Bukowski during one of many visits she made while he was at the Mound Road facility in Detroit. It is now closed.
With three other friends, they went looking for a party they had heard about. They had the wrong address. Instead, they arrived at a location where a man was helping a friend move into an upper flat. He told them there was no party there.
A companion insisted on going back to get a dilapidated shotgun with a hair-trigger. They returned to the flat, where their companion tried to pull the shotgun to shoot the man. His friends struggled to stop him, but the gun went off, killing the man.
At the constant urging of police, including an officer named James Younger, the companion testified that Walton pulled the trigger while Sanders drove the car. At that time, the Detroit Police Department was conducting a war against what they called neighborhood “gangs.” Younger later became Deputy Chief and head of Detroit’s ill-reputed Gang Squad.
VOD has covered Sanders’ progress throughout the years, as he obtained his bachelor’s degree, became a jailhouse lawyer assisting other prisoners, as well as a devout and peaceful Muslim. He is currently tutoring a group of prisoners at who benefited from a college grant from the federal government, part of 1500 around the state.
Attorney Elizabeth Jacobs (Photo by Mark Copier/The Grand Rapids Press)
Sanders told VOD recently, “I don’t want my resentence to be viewed as a protest, because its not that at all. . . . I would like the opportunity to request forgiveness not only to the family of the person who lost his life, but the witnesses to the crime as well. They lost something too. . . .You want to witness things in youth, but not a death of anyone. This was someone they all knew, and they knew me as well. They did not ask to disregard a street code, or be part of one. I understand that now. I would like the chance to tell them that they did the right thing. I look forward to just say I am sorry after more than 40 years. No one should have lost their life.”
Sanders attorney Elizabeth Jacobs responded to an inquiry from Voice of Detroit. She said that Sanders is happy with the sentence of 40-60 years being proposed for him.
However, Sanders countered, “I have not agreed to any form of resentence because I have not been resentenced yet. I hope that I can get 25 to 40 years under the terms of the statute. That is why I am looking forward to my day in court. I can accept a higher sentence if the court itself would provide me with my good time for the past 41 + years.”
The state statutes, however, bar the use of juvenile lifers’ good time in their resentencings. But Sanders said he is hoping the judge will see fit to override that part of the state statute.
The Detroit News reported in April that Attorney Deborah LaBelle singled out Walton as an example of a juvenile lifer who deserved release.
The News article continued,
“Walton is “deeply trusted by staff” at the Ryan Correctional Facility, she said. Some prisoners at the Detroit prison, including Walton, may have saved the life of a Corrections officer who had been targeted by an angry inmate in their unit. According to a state prison document, prisoners blocked doors, dressed the officer in state “prisoner blues” and “sent him out a unit window” to safety.
In a 2010 lifer review report at the prison, resident unit manager Alan Greason said Walton has been cited for work on numerous service projects, including an Alcoholics Anonymous fellowship program, a “Dose of Reality” tour program for youth and a gymnasium floor restoration.
“Mr. Walton has proven himself worthy and well deserving of a second chance,” Greason wrote in the report, which urged then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm to commute his sentence. Granholm denied the request.”
Both Sanders and Walton are set for post-conviction hearings in front of Wayne County Circuit Court Judge James Chylinski this Friday, Oct. 28 at 9 a.m., the same time the hearing for Charles Lewis is set. However, Sanders’ attorney Jacobs said Sanders’ hearing will be a second status conference to further discuss the re-sentencings. Judge Chylinski’s clerk confirmed that neither prisoner will be present. Such hearings are suspect, because, as Sander’s comment above indicates, defense attorneys are not always in sync with their clients.
CORTEZ DAVIS, DETROIT
Sixteen-year-old Cortez Davis was involved in a robbery that ended with the shooting death of the robbery victim. Davis’s companion fired all of the five shots that killed the victim; witnesses testified that Davis was involved in the robbery aspect of the crime. A jury convicted Davis of first-degree felony murder, armed robbery, assault with intent to rob while armed, and felony-firearm. The trial judge, the Hon. Vera Massey-Jones, held a hearing in 1994 to determine if Davis should be sentenced as an adult or as a juvenile.
“[I]n this instance when this young man was not the person who pulled the trigger, he was an aider and abettor in an armed robbery, he was convicted of first-degree murder by the jury . . . the only other option of then sentencing him as an adult and imposing a life sentence, mandatory life sentence, is cruel and unusual punishment, when everyone agrees that he is capable of rehabilitation.”
Judge Massey-Jones sentenced Davis to a prison term of 10 to 40 years for felony murder in addition to lesser terms for the other convictions. But the Court of Appeals peremptorily reversed, and the Judge Massey-Jones was forced to impose the required term of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Her ruling in 1994 predated the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court Ruling in Miller v. Alabama, which used virtually the same language, by 18 years. After Miller, she once again tried to re-sentence Davis, but Prosecutor Worthy appealed blocked her efforts and appealed. Unfortunately, Judge Massey-Jones retired from the bench last year.
He told VOD recently that he has emailed his attorney Clinton Hubbell, “asking for him to try to get my original sentence re-instated and have the judge to give me time served since my original sentence was 10 to 40 and I am 12 years past that original minimum sentence. So I am waiting to hear something about that.”
The state statutes, however, set an arbitrary minimum sentence of 25 years, meaning Davis would not see the world outside again for another three years if his judge does not challenge the statutes, or if the ACLU prevails in its lawsuit, Hill v. Snyder.
Davis adds now, “The U.S. Supreme Court emphasized that the distinctive attributes of youth diminish the penological justifications for imposing the harshest sentences on juvenile offenders, even when they commit terrible crimes. Does this also hold true when determining if a child that has been locked away for decades is mature and rehabilitated enough to be released back into society? They have suffered continuous punishment and incapacitation. When will they be released to truly pay their debt to society by contributing to the community that they hurt?”
Juvenile lifer Ahmad Williams of Kent County brought into court for re-sentencing in handcuffs, chain, and jail scrubs. Prisoners are normally allowed to wear street clothes during court hearings. Photo: MLive
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Oct. 10 — This debacle of an election process is unprecedented, bizarre and absurd. And it is also dangerous.
Analysis of the latest election scandals and the latest debate uproar can tell us more about how to go forward when one of these two “predator” capitalist candidates is elected.
On Oct. 7, the Washington Post published a 2005 video in which today’s presidential candidate Donald Trump, at that time the reality show host of “The Apprentice,” can be heard making the most obscene, vulgar comments about women. That opened up a “shitstorm” for the Trump candidacy.
This past weekend the elections tragically came down to voting for either a “sexist predator” or a “drone predator.” A racist buffoon or a war hawk. A misogynist, corrupt idiot or a corrupt Wall Street lackey. A billionaire rogue thief or a billionaire establishment thief.
This scandal is another example that the two parties of the capitalist system are in crisis. The Republican Party is imploding. The Democratic Party had to resort to corruption to get its nominee in place, including shutting opponent Bernie Sanders out of funding and support.
Neither party can produce legitimate leaders because they represent an illegitimate system.
TRUMP’S BUS A BUST
Action in the just-released video took place on an Access Hollywood bus in 2005. A host of the show, Billy Bush — kinfolk to former Presidents Bush — can also be heard on the tape, going along with Trump, laughing lasciviously. The lewd comments Trump made are not printable; they are so offensive. Women’s body parts are referred to as open season for Trump as he declares that because he is a “celebrity, he can kiss” or “grab” anything he wants and “get away with it.”
Trump’s comments amount to coarse verbal sexual assaults and to the gross objectification of women. Trump believes women are his property, second-class citizens that he can say or do anything to that he wants. His words then and his demeanor now speak volumes about unbridled white, straight, male privilege.
Imagine what might happen if a Black man had been caught saying such words. At the least his career would be over. He could end up in jail, or even worse.
The exposure created an immediate firestorm.
Trump’s campaign was called into question. Republicans jumped ship in large numbers, and over 20 elected officials and other prominent Republicans withdrew their endorsement over the weekend. Both Trump and his vice presidential nominee were disinvited from a Wisconsin Republican event that included Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House. On Oct. 10, Ryan basically disavowed Trump, saying he would not campaign for him.
Announcement: Billy Bush leaving Today show.
Worried about losing the House, Ryan opportunistically advised other Republicans up for re-election to endorse or break from Trump depending on their situations.
NBC was forced to suspend Billy Bush after an avalanche of criticism on social media — a victory for women.
There was some speculation that Trump would not only cancel the second presidential debate scheduled for Oct. 9, but withdraw from the race altogether. But there is no stopping Trump. Not at this moment at any rate.
Political pundit after pundit advised Trump to be humble, to show compassion and empathy to get over the sexism storm. Trump did just the opposite. In a taped message prior to the debate, he said his words did not reflect his true self. He shockingly added more sexism to the fire as he instead retaliated against Bill Clinton.
Newswoman after newswoman reminded viewers that it was not Bill Clinton who was running for president. But to no avail. The day of the debate Trump not only paraded before a Facebook news conference four women who had at one time accused Bill Clinton of assault, but he brought them to the presidential debate. Like a four-year-old, Trump’s defense of his sexism was how Bill’s was worse!
WHO’S THE MOST SEXIST OF THEM ALL?
Antron McCray, Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, and Korey Wise in New York City. Known as the Central Park Five, they served prison sentences after being wrongly convicted in the Central Park jogger case. Credit Michael Nagle for The New York Times
As Republicans denounced Trump over the weekend, as many of them declared, “That’s it. This is the last straw,” one has to wonder: Why now? Why did it take this ultra-sexist tirade for them to say, “Enough”?
Why not be as outraged at Trump’s painting Mexican migrants as rapists? Why not be outraged over his continued lies and demonization of the innocent and freed Black teenagers known as the Central Park Five? What about his constant vilification of Muslims? How can other Republicans support a presidential candidate who makes fun of the physically challenged?
Indeed, why “circle the wagons” regarding women? Could it be the Republicans’ own misogyny and ideas of patriarchy? Could it be that white women who are married to white men are the line in the sand, while oppressed people are disposable and are to be reminded of “their place”?
How insulting it was to hear male after male, Republican and Democrat alike, talk about how offensive Trump was to “our women.”
Women are not property. From story on Hyde Amendment which still denies funding for abortion to many women.
“Our daughters, our wives, our mothers” should not be talked about the way Trump talked about women, they said. But women are not the “ours” of anybody, as the women’s movement must remind them. Women are not property to be reviled. Nor are they property to be cherished either. They are not property at all.
After the debate, news outlets declared that it is almost guaranteed that Hillary Clinton will win the election. Women are polling heavily against Trump after the latest scandal.
One of Trump’s constant defenses was “that was just locker room talk.” Trump must be reminded that from many a campus locker room, many a male has come out to rape and assault women as they walk home from studying.
But it would be wrong to blame all male athletes or assume some of them are the only ones participating in this foul language and behavior. Sexist attacks of all kinds permeate capitalist society. Sexism, woman-hating, misogyny are institutionalized under capitalism. A woman cannot go to Starbucks without fear of hearing the “C” word thrown about against her or around her, and we don’t mean “coffee.”
Women’s oppression is the oldest oppression of all, and it cannot be eradicated without abolishing capitalism.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT THE ELECTION?
The Access Hollywood bus scandal overshadowed other important news over the weekend. On Oct. 10, Counterpunch commented how “providential” (or not) it was for Clinton that Trump’s sex tapes were released by the Washington Post the same day as Wikileaks dumped damning emails about her. Some e-mails disclosed speeches Clinton made to Wall Street where she endorses trade policies that benefit the 1%.
Others spilled a memo revealing the Clintons’ “strategic goal” of elevating Trump as a “poison pill” for the GOP:
“Trump was their preferred candidate and they worked frantically to help launch his campaign and fuel his ascent, knowing he would detonate prematurely like one of those SpaceX rockets.” Be careful what you wish for!
From the Bernie Sanders’ side came an Oct. 8 Washington Post article by Annabel Park, the Korean-American documentary filmmaker and political activist, headlined “I don’t like Hillary Clinton or the Democratic Party. I’m voting for them anyway.”
Park explains her decision came after witnessing first-hand the violent behavior of white Trump supporters at a Virginia rally where they cursed a crowd of Muslim, Latin, Black, Asian and white people protesting Trump. Attempting to film the incident, Park was attacked by a Trumpite woman.
Park writes, “It finally hit me. … Trump has a playbook for power that includes targeting journalists and activists, branding dissidents as enemies … fostering a culture of violence and bullying against minorities, controlling women through sexual humiliation …and blocking a democratic path … by undermining … voting rights. … These tactics have made a cultural impact. … Violent hate crimes against Muslim Americans are escalating, and teachers are reporting that there’s more bullying in schools.”
Protest against fracking, Dakota pipeline.
Park admits fears about Clinton: “She is a war hawk. She sold fracking to the world … [and] sees no path for single-payer health care. She will probably try to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, though she’s promised not to.”
But Park concludes that now she sees Trump “as the dangerous intruder with a gun threatening America” and calls for “fellow Bernie supporters” to join her in “fighting off the intruder.”
LESSER EVIL IS NO EVIL
Honestly, Annabel Park is spot-on in her descriptions of both Trump and Clinton. The dangerous by-product of Trump’s candidacy is real. Those right-wing, violent, backward, racist, white supremacist misogynists who attend Trump rallies have indeed been galvanized by his candidacy. They will not easily go back into the woodwork if Trump does not win.
But the danger of Hillary Clinton, while different, is just as real. The Clinton election emboldens those in the Pentagon who already have raised the fearsome possibility of a war with Russia. It guarantees more forced refugees. She has proven to the Pentagon that she can carry out a coup in Honduras and Haiti and come out smelling like a rose. She has proven to Wall Street she can steal an election and still get her opponent [Sanders] to support her candidacy.
Either a Trump or a Clinton administration will mean continued war at home and abroad because that is the nature of the capitalist system, a system both are beholden to. There is clearly only one choice for the workers and the oppressed. Build a revolutionary movement to show the Trumpites, the Clintonites, Wall Street and the Pentagon who is the real power in society: the workers.
On Jan. 20, whoever wins the White House must be met by a powerful counter-inaugural protest. Masses of people should descend on Washington to demand an end to police terror, no war on Russia or Syria or anywhere, no to the Dakota Pipeline, yes to a raise in the minimum wage and a union, and much more.
After this past weekend, women, who are already spearheading today’s struggles against the police, will surely be in the forefront of saying “No” to both partiesof the capitalist class.
Gutierrez is the campaign manager for the Moorehead/Lilly campaign
Workers World Party candidates (l to r) Lamont Lilly (Vice-President), Monica Moorehead (President), Teresa Gutierrez.
Lewis filed motion to dismiss his case due to loss of court files, based on USSC decision in Chessman v. Teets re: case of altered transcripts
“You have nothing to hold him on and you can’t substantiate what you say”—Rosie Lewis, mother; Lewis has always maintained innocence
“We want all these brothers that have been locked up for 30 to 40 years for crimes they may have committed as children to come home”–DocX
“We will move to have him serve 40-60 years.”–SADO ‘defense’ attorney Valerie Newman, contradicting Lewis’ position
Judge Qiana Lillard postpones decision, sets next hearing for Oct. 28
By Diane Bukowski
Oct0ber 12, 2016
DETROIT – “My son’s conviction must be dismissed,” Rosie Lewis said regarding juvenile lifer Charles Lewis. “I would hope they would do what is legitimate, right, and let him go. You have nothing to hold him on and you can’t substantiate what you say you have, and you can’t allow him to speak. And you have no charge, and I would be filing for a wrongful imprisonment.”
Jelekeco DocX Whitaker and other supporters gathered outside prior to a hearing on Lewis’ case, which was supposed to have been a hearing to determine finally whether the files cannot be retrieved.
Doc X and other supporters of Charles Lewis and Michigan juvenile lifers apeak to media before hearing October 11. Photo: Cornell Squires
Supporters outside Frank Murphy Hall in downtown Detroit.
“We are looking to have justice done,” Whitaker said. “He has been locked up for 41 years. He is a role model in the prison, working with the youth. He’s teaching young brothers music in there. We want all these brothers that have been in there for 30-40 years for crimes committed when they were children to come home. They are clearly biased against them because most of them are African-American.”
Ninety-eight percent of Wayne County’s 147 juvenile lifers are Black.
‘Pure Pleasure’ band Charles was with the night of murder; they were not called to testify at his trial.
Wendy Lewis said her brother was a talented musician during his youth, playing every instrument. She said he was out with a band playing at a UAW Local 212 cabaret during the time he was charged with killing an off-duty police officer in 1976.
“I had to go afterwards and pick up his guitar, amplifier, cords all the equipment had in his entourage,” Mrs. Lewis said.
Wendy Lewis added, “He was almost like Prince, he played every instrument. He had them down in our basement. I just watched him play and I miss watching him play, I miss my brother. He’s not only a leader for our family, he’s a leader for the community. He took that into consideration, what this sentence means for almost 400 other people.”
Lewis told VOD earlier, “I think that my case is the test case for how missing transcripts and files will be dealt with in the future. I also think that if I can successfully challenge the juvenile statute that it will help other similarly-situated juveniles in the future. Right now I’m 57 years old and the best years of my life are behind me. So, I fight to make things better for those coming behind me. Hopefully, if I play my part they won’t have to go through what I’ve gone through.”
Lewis was finally present in court after appearing only on videotape multiple times. He has filed a motion with Judge Lillard requesting that his case be dismissed, citing U.S. Supreme Court precedent in Chessman v. Teets (1957), which held that tainted case files are grounds for reversal of convictions.
In a series of hearings before Judge Lillard this spring, court officials have testified that they cannot find three cartons of records including Lewis’ arrest, charges, trials, conviction, and post-conviction proceedings on a 1976 first-degree murder charge Lewis has always maintained is false. Yet they are maintaining a falsified Register of Actions which states he was convicted on April 3, 2000 in front of Judge Gershwin Drain and lists other undocumented actions since then.
Charles Lewis listens to court hearing. Neither Valerie Newman nor the judge asked him to speak, as he has done in earlier hearings before Lillard. Photo: Sarah Cwiek, Michigan Radio
Judge Lillard’s courtroom was packed with Lewis’ family and friends, as well as TV news cameras and reporters from much of the mainstream media.
Over 363 juvenile lifers across the state are being re-sentenced after tw0 U.S. Supreme Court rulings, Miller v. Alabama (2012) and Montgomery v. Louisiana (2016) that juvenile life without parole is unconstitutional on a retroactive basis, “cruel and unusual punishment” under the Eighth Amendment.
However, Michigan is conducting the hearings under draconic state statutes passed in 2014 that have sabotaged the high court’s intent.
Mainstream media has been hungry for information on these hearings. Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy filed motions on the county’s 147 juvenile lifers June 22, asking that 63 of them, including Lewis, be re-sentenced to JLWOP. The motions are being kept from the public record. They are not filed in individual case files. Neither VOD nor Michigan Radio have been able to get access to them, despite a Freedom of Information Act request by VOD. No notice is sent to the public when a hearing is scheduled.
During the Oct. 11 hearing, Lewis at one point turned and asked Assistant Prosecutor Jason Williams how he plans to proceed with re-sentencing despite the lack of files on his case.
APA Williams, SADO attorney Valerie Newman hold secret meeting with Judge Lillard for 15 minutes before hearing; Lewis was not present in the courtroom. Lillard did not put substance of discussion on the record.
Lillard cut Williams off before he could respond. She then asked “defense attorney” Valerie Newman to file her own brief. Newman has not actually even filed an appearance in Lewis’ case.
Lillard did not ask for a prosecutor’s brief in response to Lewis’ motion.
Despite broad state judicial opposition to Michigan’s juvenile lifer resentencing process, particularly its statutory maximum of 60 years, and ban on use of prisoners’ earned “good time,” Newman said she would file a brief calling for Lewis to be re-sentenced to 40-6o years whether or not the files are found.
Former Wayne County Prosecutor and Judge John O’Hair has called for the federal government to intervene in what he, the Michigan Retired Judges’ Association, and numerous other organizations term a process deliberately designed to circumvent the USSC decisions on juvenile life without parole.
Former Wayne Co. Prosecutor and Circuit Court Judge John O’Hair.
“With the average life expectancy of a juvenile serving life without parole at 50.6 years, 40 and 60-yr. sentences are virtual life sentences,” Hon. O’Hair wrote in a broadly published column. (See link below.)
Lillard said she would hear both Lewis’ and Newman’s contradictory motions Fri. Oct. 28 at 1:30 p.m., and rule on them. She did not say she would allow Lewis to argue his own motion.
As Judge Lillard did Sept. 6, she held a secret 15-minute conference with Newman and Williams prior to Lewis’ entrance into the courtroom, and once again made no official record with the court stenographer summarizing its substance.
Lewis told VOD in a call from the Wayne County Jail that another prisoner there with him, Robert Trombley, 70, has been incarcerated for 53 years since 1963. He said Trombley told him he was just sentenced to 40-60 years, meaning he is at the mercy of the parole board for seven more years.
Robert Trombley, 70, has been re-sentenced to 40-60 yrs. after serving 53 yrs. in prison.
SADO has featured six other juvenile lifers on its website, boasting that they got them re-sentenced to the same term. The Michigan Legislature has provided millions in funding for SADO to handle the juvenile lifer re-sentencings. SADO then said they would not challenge the state re-sentencing statutes.
But after the Miller ruling in 2012, Attorney Deborah LaBelle and the Michigan American Civil Liberties Union recruited pro bono attorneys for all of the state’s juvenile lifers. In a class action lawsuit brought by LaBelle and the ACLU, Hill v. Snyder, U.S. District Court Judge John Corbett O’Meara ruled in 2013 that all Michigan juvenile lifers are subject to parole consideration after 10 years.
His ruling was upheld by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and remanded for further adjustment. LaBelle told VOD the next hearing in his court in Ann Arbor will take place Nov. 3.
Judge Timothy Kenny
Lewis said that SADO has filed no motions for the juvenile lifers housed with him at Lakeland Correctional Facility to hire neuropsychiatrists, psychologists, crime scene re-constructionists, and other specialists that would be needed to conduct legitimate Miller re-sentencings. It appears to be the case that SADO is taking state tax dollars to get prisoners to take plea deals. Those deals involve giving up any right to appeal, an admission of guilt even though the juvenile lifer may have a claim of innocence, and giving up all right to the use of “good time” credits.
Lewis’ previous attorneys, employed by Foley & Lardner, had actually begun interviewing his alibi witnesses from the band, who had never testified at his trials. LaBelle had retained Foley & Lardner for Lewis on a pro bono basis. But a new Foley & Lardner attorney, Felicia O’Connor, announced their withdrawal from the case later on. Assistant Prosecutor Jason Williams told the court at the time that Chief Criminal Judge Timothy Kenny was appointing attorneys from SADO to handle juvenile lifer cases in Wayne County.
KINCHELOE, MI – More than two weeks after prisoners at Kinross Correctional Facility participated in a nationwide prison workers’ strike, the prisoners’ own accounts of what happened are beginning to emerge. Prisoners report that the facility was on lockdown from September 10 to the morning of September 22, preventing communication with their outside supporters.
Most prisoners, including kitchen staff, did not report for work on September 9 in conjunction with the nationwide work stoppage [in remembrance of the historic Attica rebellion in 1971.] The following morning, between 400 and 500 prisoners marched peacefully in the yard.
Slop for dinner at Kinross Prison
The deputy wardens came to the prisoners, who communicated their grievances, including low wages, the commutation process , restrictive visitation room seating in violation of MDOC policy, high phone rates, poor quality and quantity of food provided by private contractor Trinity Services Group, the way the yard is run, living conditions that squeeze eight men into a room intended for four, no re-entry programs, no bleach for clothes, MP3 players that break easily and cannot be fixed or replaced, not enough room in the law library, not enough room in the visiting room and so some visitors are turned away, and not being allowed to transfer to other facilities.
Prisoners also demanded no retaliation for their peaceful protest, and according to prisoners, the deputy wardens agreed to address the grievances or communicate them to the legislature if necessary. The prisoners thought they had come to a common agreement and began to disperse.
To their surprise, as soon as the deputy warden left, a tactical team stormed into the yard with guns, rifles, tear gas, and shields. The armed officers then started grabbing the men alleged to be instigators, handcuffed their arms behind their backs with zip ties, and threw the men to the ground in the yard. They were left for five to six hours in the rain, and were not permitted to use restrooms during that time, forcing some to soil themselves.
Kinross prisoners teargassed.
The violent assault of the armed officers triggered panic among the prisoners, who feared for their lives. Some reported being shot at directly with tear gas canisters. Others attempted to barricade their unit doors. Reportedly, fires were set in several units, at least one window was broken, and sinks and surveillance cameras were damaged after the officers began their assault. Media reports have focused on who was to blame for the damage to physical property, not the violence done to prisoners in violation of their human rights.
Evelyn Williams, a family member of a prisoner, said, “It’s a very racist facility, where they intimidate and harass prisoners on a daily basis. The men just wanted the broken policies to be fixed. They’re treated like animals, with no respect and no justice. They can’t even afford to buy soap on their wages.”
About 150 prisoners accused of being instigators were transferred to other facilities, where an unknown number were charged with inciting a riot and punished with isolation. Prisoners report that some punished had nothing to do with the protest. In violation of MDOC policy, guards destroyed the property of the accused prisoners and encouraged other prisoners to steal their personal food.
MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Prisoners, family members, former prisoners, and local organizers are available for interviews with local and national media.’
“With the average life expectancy of a juvenile serving life without parole at 50.6 years, 40 and 60-yr. sentences are virtual life sentences”–John O’Hair
State statutes bar use of “good time” credits when re-sentencing juvenile lifers; many would be released immediately otherwise
SADO ignores Retired Judges Assn., former Wayne Co. Prosecutor O’Hair, others condemning state statutes; forges ahead with plea bargaining, not Miller mitigation hearings
Charles Lewis’ motion: “The defendant asks this court to be guided by the U.S. Supreme Court, because the proponent before this Court is not the defendant but the U.S. Constitution,” citing USSC Chessman v. Teets ruling on death penalty case where trial transcripts were corrupted
Lewis expected to be present in person at Oct. 11 hearing in front of Judge Lillard
By Diane Bukowski
October 7, 2016
Charles Lewis at 17, after unjust conviction
Lewis now: at 58: “I have grown old in prison.”
DETROIT – As an October 11 hearing date for Charles Lewis approaches, it is becoming clear that the state of Michigan, county prosecutors, and many defense attorneys are conspiring to keep most of the state’s juvenile lifers locked up until they die.
This is despite two U.S. Supreme Court decisions, Miller v. Alabama (2012), and Montgomery v. Louisiana (2016),which declared juvenile life without parole unconstitutional, “cruel and unusual punishment,” to be applied only to the “rarest” of children.
Lewis, now 58, is one of 63 juvenile lifers that Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy still wants to die in prison, the highest actual number of any county in the state. He has already served 41 years, on murder charges he has always maintained are false.
Lewis filed a motion with Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Qiana Lillard to dismiss his case, due to multiple constitutional violations including the complete loss of any record of his conviction. He wants it to be heard at his Oct. 11 hearing, scheduled for 9 a.m. in courtroom #502 of the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice.
Judge Lillard said on the record at his last hearing Sept. 6 that she would “writ him out” to be present and to spend one hour meeting with attorney Valerie Newman prior to the hearing.
In Lewis’ motion, he says in part, “The United States Supreme Court said in Chessman that the proponent before the Court was the Constitution of the United States, not the petitioner. The defendant asks this court to be guided by the United States Supreme Court, because the proponent before this Court is not the defendant but the United States Constitution.”
In Chessman, the USSC vacated the conviction of a prisoner facing a death sentence because of the loss of the original transcripts of much of his trial. The stenographer died leaving hundreds of pages untranscribed. Chessman contended the transcripts produced by another stenographer were corrupted.(See link to ruling at end of story.)
Lewis says he is being held unlawfully without any sentence in violation of due process of law under the Sixth and Fourteen Amendments.
The U.S. Supreme Court specifically vacated his conviction and sentence after its Montgomery decision this year, which declared juvenile life without parole unconstitutional on a retroactive basis. It then remanded Lewis’ case, along with others, to the Michigan Supreme Court, which again vacated his sentence pending a hearing under the Miller decision.
However, Lewis says, such a hearing cannot be held without his case file. He cites part of the Miller decision as follows:
“Mandatory life without parole for a juvenile precludes consideration of his chronological age and its hallmark features–among them, immaturity, impetuosity and failure to appreciate risks and consequences. . . .It neglects the circumstances of the homicide offense and the extent of his participation in the conduct . . . .Indeed, it ignores that he might have been charged convicted of a lesser offense if not for the incompetencies associated with youth.”
Even Michigan’s 2014 state statute regarding re-sentencing hearings, MCL 725.6, says that evidence from an individual’s trial may be produced on his behalf.
Witness Dennis Van Fleteren currently lives in outstate Michigan.
In Lewis’ case, six witnesses at the scene of the 1975 killing of off-duty police officer Gerald Swypitowski, including SwAypitowski’s partner Dennis Van Fleteren, testified for the prosecutor that the shots that killed Swypitowski came from a white Lincoln Mark IV.
Van Fleteren copied its license plate number and the driver, Leslie Nathanial, was arrested, but inexplicably later released after denying his involvement. A co-worker told VOD that Nathanial was a bookie at the plant where they worked.
The witnesses also said they saw no other vehicles or individuals in the area at the time of the killing, despite contradictory testimony from three minors police had evidently recruited, who claimed they and Lewis drove a yellow Ford Gran Torino to rob Swypitowski.
On cross-exam, Lewis’ defense attorney was able to pin down the first group of witnesses’ testimony more firmly by quoting from reports that they gave police after the killing, which indicated they did indeed hear a gunshot and saw a shotgun blast coming out of the Mark IV.
The defense attorney also got the medical examiner to refute police claims that Swypitowski was shot from a distance of two feet, instead indicating that he could have been shot from as far away as seven feet, consistent with the first witnesses’ testimony that it was a drive-by shooting. (VOD has reviewed a copy of the first transcript of this trial that was retained by a Lewis relative.)
Alibi witness Chuck Morgan told VOD that Charles Lewis was with him and his band “Pure Pleasure” at the UAW Local 212 hall at the time of the alleged crime.
In violation of state law, the only record of Lewis’ case is a file folder kept by Judge Lillard with scattered documents inside. VOD obtained a copy of the motion from Lillard’s office and unsuccessfully attempted to get it properly recorded with the County Clerk’s Criminal Division.
Lewis says he cannot file his motions with that Clerk’s office because they have no file on him, despite the fact that they maintain a falsified Register of Actions on his case, listing only events from his alleged conviction in 2000 to the present. Lewis was actually convicted in 1977 and had multiple post-conviction and appeal hearings after that, none of which are in his record. See a full copy of his motion at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/CLmotion.pdf
VOD has contacted Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett and scheduled a meeting with her regarding such gross abuse of criminal court records in this and other cases. It is the County Clerk’s responsibility to oversee and ensure the safety and veracity of court files, not the individual judge’s.
Judge Qiana Lillard was removed from trial by Chief Criminal Judge Timothy Kenny due to alleged bias.
In Judge Lillard’s case, her objectivity has been questioned before. Wayne County Criminal Court Chief Judge Timothy Kenny removed her earlier from the Theodore Wafer case after defense attorneys contended she had been a prosecutor and maintained close ties with Prosecutor Kym Worthy and others in her office through Facebook contacts and other means.
Wafer was later convicted by Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Dana Hathaway of second-degree murder in the case of Detroiter Renisha McBride, 19, who he shot to death on his front porch without cause after unlocking and opening a solid door.
Lillard’s staff denied she is a niece of Kym Worthy, as several individuals have alleged, but she would not come to the phone to deny it herself.
SADO attorney Valerie Newman is in charge of its juvenile lifer re-sentencing unit.
Valerie Newman of the State Appellate Defenders’ Office (SADO) earlier refused to file a motion to dismiss Lewis’ case, instead plea bargaining for a 40-60 year sentence, as SADO appears to be doing for the majority of its juvenile lifer clients. This is despite the fact that state statutes regarding juvenile lifer re-sentencing specifically exclude the use of a prisoner’s “good time” credits, which could let many go free immediately.
Dawn Van Hoek, SADO’s director, has once again not responded to VOD’s phone call and email regarding SADO’s stance in handling juvenile lifer re-sentencings.
Newman has also not addressed Lewis’ innocence claim, refusing to call “alibi witnesses” who never testified at his trial, a factor cited in a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals remand of his case. Such innocence claims are a prime issue in juvenile lifer cases, because many such individuals had no access to paid attorneys and were not familiar with legal processes.
Re-sentenced juvenile lifer John Hall, 67
John Hall, 67, the juvenile lifer featured in a Detroit Free Press article on his re-sentencing (see link below), was forced to admit his guilt although it was questionable, forego all right to appeal, and apologize to the alleged victims, according to an informed source, in order to be re-sentenced to 40-60 years after already serving 50 years. Michigan’s Parole Board generally requires an admission of guilt before paroling prisoners as well.
“With the average life expectancy of a juvenile serving life without parole at 50.6 years, 40 and 60-year sentences are virtual life sentences,” former Wayne County Prosecutor and circuit judge John O’Hair said in an article published Sept. 22. (See box above).
O’Hair called for the federal government to step in to remedy Michigan’s position, which distinguishes it as a rogue state. He noted that many county prosecutors have re-recommended life without parole for 100 percent of their juvenile lifers, relying heavily on statutes passed by the state legislature in 2014, unlike 38 other states which have banned JLWOP completely.
Former Wayne Co. Prosecutor and judge John O’Hair
“Our Legislature amended the juvenile sentencing statute to ostensibly follow Miller,” O’Hair wrote. “The statute retained the ability to impose a life without parole sentence and allowed the courts to impose a minimum sentence of 25 to 40 years, and a maximum sentence of 60 years. With the average life expectancy of a juvenile serving life without parole at 50.6 years, 40 and 60-year sentences are virtual life sentences.”
Attorney Deborah LaBelle told VOD, “It is a terrible mistake for Michigan to keep going down this path, when that sentence is on its way out. Thirty-nine states have now abolished it for all youth or haven’t used it for anyone under 18.”
LaBelle’s federal case, Hill v. Snyder, is still being argued before U.S. District Court Judge John Corbett O’Meara, who ruled in 2013 that all Michigan’s juvenile lifers are eligible for parole. The state appealed, but lost at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which remanded the case to O’Meara. Human Rights Watch cited this case in an amicus brief filed with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2014.
“The United States is alone in the world in its widespread use of life-without-parole sentences for children, and these sentences are a direct consequence of its practice of prosecuting children as adults,” said Alba Morales, US criminal justice researcher at Human Rights Watch,” a release from Human Rights Watch said.
LaBelle said the next hearing on Hill v. Snyder will take place in O’Meara’s court in Ann Arbor on Nov. 3, 2016 at 10 a.m.
Retired Judge Peter E. Deegan/Photo Port Huron TimesHerald
VOD spoke with Retired Judge Peter E. Deegan, Vice-President of the Michigan Retired Judges Association, who said O’Hair proposed the resolution they passed Sept. 22 at the State Bar Association of Michigan’s Annual Meeting in Grand Rapids.
“Several of us felt very passionately about this issue,” Judge Deegan said.”As retired judges with the wisdom gained from years of experience, we are very careful to pick out issues that are relevant and will be beneficial to criminal justice in our courts. This was a desperately needed conversation with Miller when it first came down. We felt that our voices needed to be heard. The conversation is developing. Hopefully it will get to reflect where we should be now in America and how we should treat our youth.”
Judge Deegan read the resolution to VOD over the phone.
It says in part, “. . . . for almost a year the state of Michigan has employed a failed re-sentencing process, placing a heavy burden on the funds and human resources of state and local units of governments and often requiring victims’ families to revisit [painful past memories.]” It calls on Michigan to forego the resentencing process and replace it with a declaration of parole eligibility for all juvenile lifers, as 38 other states have done.
Former Michigan Gov. William Milliken, now 90.
The full resolution is linked below this story. Judge Deegan has himself written passionate articles for the Port Huron Times-Herald on this matter, also linked below.
Former Michigan Gov. William Milliken also wrote an article denouncing juvenile life without parole sentences, linked below. He said in part that the following organizations have also passed anti-JLWOP resolutions: the American Probation and Parole Association, American Correctional Association, National Association of Counties, National PTA, American Bar Association, American Psychological Association, Boys Scouts of America, Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, General Synod of the United Church in Christ, Jesuit Conference, Muslim Public Affairs Council, Union for Reform Judaism, United Methodist Church General Board
Michigan Parole Board chair Michael C. Eagen
VOD asked Holly Kramer, the press representative for Michigan’s Parole Board, about the board’s stance regarding re-sentenced juvenile lifers.
VOD asked in part whether the board has received training in the Miller and Montgomery cases, met to establish specialized procedures for these individuals, or plans to expedite their hearings.
VOD also asked, “Is anything being done to speed up programming for release of these offenders while in prison so their parole is not delayed, considering they have been serving sentences that have been declared unconstitutional on a retroactive basis? Some of these juvenile lifers are in fact innocent, due to their financial inability to retain their own attorneys, their lack of knowledge of the judicial system, and to other factors. Will declarations of innocence be held against them by the parole board?”
Although these questions were emailed two days ago, Kramer stated there were technical difficulties in received repeated copies. She gave the following statement on behalf of the parole board, which skirts the issues involved entirely.
“The Parole Board has significant experience in reviewing a wide variety of cases, including those of youthful offenders that were sentenced to long indeterminate sentences. While some of these juvenile lifer offenders might be newly eligible for parole, the types of cases are not new to the board in terms of handling them.”
Former Michigan Gov. John Engler
Apparently the real answer to VOD’s questions is that newly sentenced juvenile lifers would not be treated differently than anyone else.
That is not good news for them, since many prisoners experience repeated “flops” from the parole board. Since its conversion from a civil service entity to a board appointed by the governor under former Michigan Governor John Engler, the parole board has released fewer and fewer prisoners every year. Many are serving time far beyond their earliest release date.
S0-called “parolable lifers,” such as John Alexander used to be paroled beginning after 10-15 years, but Engler’s appointed parole board head Stephen Marschke declared, “Life means life.” Alexander has now spent 35 years in prison and is awaiting his next parole hearing. A class action lawsuit filed for the parolable lifers earlier eventually petered out. A few such as Kenneth Foster-Bey have finally been released far beyond the times their judges expected them to serve, indicating the continuing recalcitrance of Michigan’s parole board.
In Alexander’s case, his sentencing Judge, Michael Sapala, said he expected Alexander to be released with evidence of rehabilitation after 10 years. But Alexander has been behind bars for 36 years, despite obtaining a doctoral degree in theology, teaching ant-recidivism classes to prisoners, accumulating numerous work-related certificates, and maintaining his long-time marriage, among other accomplishments.
The Michigan Citizens Alliance on Prisons and Public Spending reported in 2013, “The proportion of paroles granted declined from 68% in 1990 to 48% in 2002. In 2010, it was 56%. At the end of 2010, a total of 9,322 prisoners were past their earliest release date. Nearly 1,200 people were required to “max out.”
Michigan’s current budget calls for over $2 billion to be spent on prisons. A report from the U.S. Department of Education said that from 1979 to 2013, Michigan increased spending on schools by 18%. During that same time period, the state increased spending on corrections by 219%.
COPS OUT OF BLACK, LATIN, POOR COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE U.S.
Protesters against murders by cops block traffic on Woodward Avenue at Clairmount Sept. 24, 2016. They later released their balloons into the sky to remember their loved ones. Among others, they included Arnetta Grable, Mertilla Jones, and Kimberly Davis.
Rev. Jerome McCorry of Dayton, Ohio, who led the street protest, shouts encouragement. Many drivers honked their horns in support, even getting out of their cars to see what was happening.
Action marks revival of Detroit movement triggered by Lamar Grable’s 1996 murder by Eugene Brown, Vicki Yost
“This is a fight we all better fight”–Pastor McCorry, Dayton, Ohio
By Diane Bukowski
October 2, 2016
VOD: before and since this Sept. 24 action, held in Detroit, cops have continued their deadly rampage across the U.S. Three brutal executions of Black men happened in California alone within two days during the past week. A man and two teens died in Taylor and Livonia, Michigan after police chases. Videos and links to those stories are below this one.
Group gathers after blocking traffic.
DETROIT – As the U.S. rises up against the genocidal slaughter of Blacks by police from Charlotte, S.C. to Columbus, Ohio, to Tulsa, Arizona, family members from Detroit, New York City, Dayton, Ohio, Kenosha, Illinois and elsewhere blocked Woodward Avenue for an hour Sept. 24 to demand justice for their loved ones’ deaths.
Drivers honked their horns in solidarity as the families chanted and released white balloons heavenward, with the names of Adaisha Miller, Terrance Kellom, Aiyana Jones, Lamar Grable, Kimoni “Kodak” Davis, Justus Howell, Malcolm Ferguson, John Collado and Emmet Till printed across them or displayed on t-shirts and signs.
Balloons fly skyward in memory of those murdered by police.
“Only in policing can you kill a person one day, take a vacation, come back on restricted duty, get a raise and retire with a large pension,” Pastor Jerome McCorry of the Faith and Justice Social Alliance of Dayton, Ohio said. “All you did was kill somebody who didn’t look like you. The same madness is going on with mass incarceration.”
Pastor McCorry and P.O.S.T (Protect Our Stolen Treasures), headed by Yolanda McNair, based in Detroit, and members of the Original Detroit Coalition against Police Brutality led the militant action. They sponsored held a day-long conference at St. Matthew’s and St. Joseph’s Church on Woodward and Clairmount to solidify their ties with each other and reach out to others.
At an afternoon panel, family members told heart-wrenching stories.
Kevin Kellom, Pastor Jerome McCorry, and Yolanda McNair, leader of P.O.S.T., holding poster with her daughter Adaisha Miller’s photo.
“Adaisha was my jewel,” said her mother Yolanda McNair. “She left a little six-year-old daughter. She loved kids, she loved life, and became a massage therapist. She was killed one day before her 25th birthday by Detroit cop Isaac Parrish III.”
Parrish claimed his gun, which he was carrying in a side holster while he danced with Adaisha during a party involving drinking went off accidentally July 8, 2012. The Detroit police covered up for him, smearing Adaisha’s name. He was never charged, not even with reckless endangerment. He was not tested for alcohol or drugs.
“I have a tattoo to remember Adaisha, and my grandkids come up and kiss it,” McNair said. “Her death did not just affect me, it affected everyone who loved her. She deserved to get old, fall in love, and have kids. Now, I’m proud to be the leader of this group. I’m going to fight not just for Adaisha but for everybody. If it happened to us, it can happen to you.”
Arnetta Grable comforts Kevin Kellom as he speaks during panel.
Kevin Kellom, who attended the event with his wife Yvette Johnson, remembered the Detroit and federal police execution of his son Kevin Kellom, 18, on April 27, 2015.
“I called him Tee-Tee,” Kellom said. “I always told him, when you bring kids into the world, you have to take care of them. He had a warrant out, but I told the police,‘ I will bring him in the day after his daughter is born.’ ”
Terrance Kellom, Facebook
Kevin Kellom with grandbabies Terranae Kellom, Terrance Kellom.
The day they killed him, four I.C.E. agents, two DEA agents, and three Detroit police came to my door. I wouldn’t let them in without a warrant, but they snatched the door out of my hand. I heard them upstairs telling Tee-Tee, ‘Freeze or I’ll blow your brains out.’
“Then they brought him downstairs, two cops in front and two in back. His hands were in his pockets, but then he put his arms out to me, calling ‘Dad.’ They shot him eight times, then one put his foot on his shoulder and one kicked him, and another turned him over, and shot him again.”
Police claimed Kellom threatened them with a hammer, but Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said during a press conference announcing that no charges against the cops would be brought, that no fingerprints were found on the hammer.
Kimberly Davis with son Kimoni “Kodak” Davis. FB page.
Kellom broke down, blaming himself for not raising his son better, but Aaron Grable, brother of Lamar Grable, told him, “It ain’t about what you didn’t do, it’s about what they did. I was the bad kid in my family, and Lamar was the good kid, but they killed him anyway.”
Kimberly Davis, mother of Kimoni “Kodak” Davis, said he was killed during a car chase in a speed trap set up by Hanging Rock, Ohio police, who said he was going 11 miles over the speed limit as he was coming back home on an Ohio highway. His 17-year-old friend Airshawn Warren of W. Virginia also died. White Hanging Rock cop David Caruso, who had participated in four such other chases, drove the lead car.
State Highway Patrol photographs of the freeway embankment Davis drove up on before flying over three lanes and crashing in a gulley show tracks from two sets of cars, indicating that police may have followed and pushed his car over the road.
Two sets of tire tracks going up embankment where Davis car went airborne. The one on the left appears to be veering toward one on the right. OHP photo.
“He made me a grandmother at the age of 14,” Davis said. “Now his baby is the only part of him I have left. He had just called me to say, ‘Ma, I’m on my way home, don’t worry about me.’ Instead he went home to Our Lord because he was a brown face in southern Ohio. My son lived one day, and he died in my arms in a hospital in West Virginia. He was not even recognizable. His grandson tells me how much he misses his father. It’s not a good feeling to know they are killing us. Many cops are half-crazy. They don’t tell on each other, but then they get mad because we don’t snitch in the hood.”
Aaron Grable, brother of Lamar Grable, speaks at conference Sept. 24, 2016.
Arnetta Grable, Sr. recalled, “I remember like yesterday the first time I set eyes on my first baby Lamar, and I remember like yesterday the last time I saw him, dead in the hospital with 50 police cars outside. Cop Eugene Brown claimed Lamar shot him, and they told me Brown was ‘clinging to life’ at the same hospital. It was all lies. Brown and Vicki Yost were chasing a stocky, dark-skinned man who was 5’6.” My son was 6’3,” light-skinned with red hair, and he only weighed 120 lbs. Brown just decided to execute him after he turned him over and realized his mistake.”
As explained in the previous story on the 20th anniversary commemoration of Lamar’s death, the truth came out during a civil trial, “Lamar’s day in court,” that his mother fought seven years to bring about. It resulted in the U.S. Department of Justice intervention into the Detroit Police Department on consent decrees lasting over 10 years.
“They tried to get my mother to settle for $1 million,” Aaron Grable said. “But I told her, ‘You can’t miss what you never had.’”
Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway, killer cop Joseph Weekley, Aiyana Jones
Mertilla Jones, grandmother of Aiyana Jones, 7 when she was viciously shot to death in the head with an AK-47 by Detroit cop Joseph Weekley, leading a military-style assault team on May 16, 2010, also spoke. Her family has gone through unspeakable harassment, frame-ups, and torture since they lost their beautiful little girl.
Jones was sleeping on a living-room couch with her favorite grandchild when police broke in. They had no search warrant for the family’s home, only for an upper flat above their address. Detroit cop Joseph Weekley went free after several mistrials deliberately caused by Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway in league with the prosecution and defense. He is now back on the force. His brother Nate Weekley was recently disciplined for posting on Facebook that Black Lives Matter is a terrorist group.
Mertilla Jones speaks Sept. 24, 2016 about DPD murder of her granddaughter Aiyana Jones, 7, on May 16, 2010.
“I saw the light go out of her eyes,” Jones said. “Aiyana was born July 20, 2002 and put in my arms by her maternal grandmother July 21, 2002. I speak for Mertilla Jones, and I speak for Aiyana Jones. They said my family were gang members, but we are survivors of police murder and torture. They locked up Aiyana’s father, my son Charles, for 40-60 years, and every man in my family with the name Jones. I raised six Black men, and have over 30 grandbabies, most of them boys. I am fighting for all of us. I am here to support all these families.”
Latoya Howell, mother of Justus Howell, 17.
LaToya Howell of Kenosha, Illinois, said that when she was told her 17-year-old son Justus Howell had been shot to death by police, “I left this planet. My soul left out of my body. We are the ones that go to the ends of the earth for our children, we teach them everything. You are not going to lie on my baby, he didn’t have a gun. They showed the world the tape. You thought you could take my baby’s life, but it will not be without a fight. If just a fraction of people that have the ears and soul that you all have would join forces, we can stop these killings.”
News reports said Howell had been shot twice in the back by Kenosha police as he ran from them, in early April 2015. Protests followed. At one held in Zion, Ill. People carried signs declaring “Blood on their badges,” “Stand up 4 Justus,” “Black Power: Our children are the power,” “Hands up, don’t shoot,” and “Black Lives Matter,” according to the Kenosha News.
March in Zion, Illinois to demand justice for Justus Howell; Photo Kenosha News
Ericka Gordon-Taylor, a cousin of Emmett Till, lynched in the South in 1955, attended the conference with her mother, both wearing T-Shirts commemorating the 14-year-old child and his mother Mamie Mobley, who insisted on an open casket funeral to show the world how vicious racists had savaged her child’s face and body.
Ericka Gordon-Taylor remembers Emmett Till.
They had just returned from the grand opening of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History, which featured the first display of that casket. Till was exhumed in 2005, and could not be re-buried in the same casket.
“That casket symbolizes that all of our families and loved ones are still being slaughtered, 61 years later,” Gordon-Taylor said. “We still see the stain of Emmett Till’s blood on the fabric of America.”
Also in attendance were Joshua Lopez of New York City, whose uncle John Collado was murdered by an undercover cop in 2011 as he sought to break up what he thought was a neighborhood fight, but instead was the cop beating another man. Lopez has been very active since, traveling across the country to numerous rallies.
Joshua Lopez (center in red cap) during march for his uncle John Collado in NYC.
He was joined by Juanita Young of New York City, whose son Malcolm Ferguson was shot and killed March 1, 2000 in the Bronx, by plainclothes officer Louis Rivera. Like the family of Lamar Grable, she fought in court for years and in June 2007 a jury awarded her $10.5 million for the killing of her son, which was later reduced on appeal. She and her family have been subjected to constant police raids and brutality since that time, like the family of Mertilla Jones. Young leads the organizing of national events like the one in Detroit Sept. 24.
Members of Dayton, Ohio BLM group at conference.
Pastor McCorry summed up the conference in tears, saying, “This is my family. I love everyone sitting at this table. I refuse to ever sell you out.
“This is a fight we all better fight. It is as much about white folks as Black folks. A boat cannot rise from the flood waters until the people at the bottom are saved.”
Family members gather at end of conference. They had just been awarded posters declaring solidarity between African-Americans and the struggle of the Palestinian people.
Videos and stories on recent killings by police across the U.S. and Michigan.
REGINALD THOMAS, FATHER OF 8, KILLED BY PASADENA, CA COPS Sept. 30, MASS PROTESTS FOLLOW
BELOW: VOD stories related to families at Sept. 24 conference (many had multiple stories, but only one is cited for sake of space. To see others, put the victim’s name in the VOD search engine at upper right.)
Sky banner flown Sept. 21, 2016 in honor of Lamar Grable, 20, murdered by Detroit cops Eugene Brown and Vicki Yost Sept. 21, 1996 /Photo by Ven
20th ANNIVERSARY of LAMAR GRABLE’S MURDER on FIELD@KERCHEVAL 9/21/96: Lamar’s father Herman Vallery (r) interviewed by Fox 2 News, with (seated l to r) Keka Harris and daughter, Mertilla Jones (grandmother of Aiyana Jones), Juanita Young (NYC); (standing l to r) Joshua Lopez (NYC), Lamar’s brother Aaron Grable on bullhorn, mother Arnetta Grable, Cornell Squires, State Rep. Bettie Cook-Scott
Lamar Grable’s family, friends remember 20-year-old man, executed 20 yrs. ago by Detroit cops Eugene Brown, Vicki Yost, still on the loose
Brown also killed Rodrick Carrington, Jr., Darren Miller, wounded 9 more; Brown convicted by own testimony at civil trial, Lamar’s “day in court”
Lamar’s legacy: founding of Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality and summer of 2000: uprisings against police killings in Detroit
By Diane Bukowski
September 26, 2016
Lamar Grable at his father’s home.
DETROIT– Dozens turned out at a vacant lot on Field on Detroit’s east side Sept. 21, where Lamar Grable, youth entrepreneur, musician and activist, took his last breath at the age of 20, gunned down by three-time killer cop Eugene Brown and his partner Vicki Yost in 1996 as he returned home from a church social.
Eugene Brown, a three-time killer cop, was never charged or fired despite recommendations made in an internal Detroit police study known as the “Shoulders Report.” He has since retired.
Vicki Yost was rewarded with a series of DPD promotions, then left to become Inkster’s police chief. She left that department after the near-fatal beating of Detroit autoworker Floyd Dent by Inkster cop William “Robocop” Melendez, a long-time DPD veteran who committed murder and mayhem throughout southwest Detroit. The vicious beating of Dent, caught on police dashcam video, created a national scandal. Melendez was sentenced to 1-10 years, but the Michigan Department of Corrections independently commuted that to a short stay in boot camp.
Arnetta Grable is interviewed by Detroit’s Channel 7 News Sept. 21, 2016.
“There were tons of witnesses to how they killed my son,” Arnetta Grable, who had rushed to the scene immediately, said. “Youths in the neighborhood said Vicki Yost ran up on him first from behind and fired multiple shots. Lamar said, ‘I’ve been shot, don’t shoot me anymore,’ but then Brown came up on him from the front, knelt over him and flipped him over and said ‘Oh, shit’ because he realized Lamar was not the guy they were chasing. People watching from their windows in the apartment building next to the field said Brown than shot him three times in the chest. Dr. Werner Spitz called it an ‘execution’ during the civil trial.”
Grable said Lamar was a talented, activist young man with no criminal involvement. He spent the last seven years of his life living with his father Herman Vallery at a house close to where he was killed.
Grable cousin Ven.
“He was very artistic, he would draw cartoons and portraits,” Grable said. “He played the violin, keyboards and flute. He went to Cass Technical High School. He was the kind of kid that liked to help people. He started Y.E.S., the Young Entrepreneur System, to teach youth how to start their own businesses. He opened up a photography studio, and he was a youth recruiter for the NAACP.”
Throughout the memorial, Grable cousin Ven barbecued free refreshments for everyone at the event and for the community at large. He also took long-range photographs featured in this story with his camera.
Brown and Yost claimed Grable had a gun and struggled with Brown, shooting him twice in his bullet-proof vest. Yost admitted to taking the gun HOME with her overnight before turning it in. At the civil trial, experts testified that bullet-holes in Brown’s vest did not confirm any such struggle, instead that Brown had fired them himself.
World renowned forensic pathologist Werner Spitz testified that Brown “executed” Grable as he lay on the ground, shooting him in the chest.
A jury awarded Grable’s family $4 million seven years after the suit was filed due to constant court delays. It was upheld by the Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court later, largely because Brown admitted, “I MAY have shot him three times in the chest while he was on the ground.”
Lamar Grable’s family and supporters gather after jury verdict against Brown. Included to right are attorneys David Robinson, Melissa El, and Rosie and Wendy Lewis, mother and sister of juvenile lifer Charles Lewis.
During the intervening years, Arnetta Grable and her family spearheaded the founding of “Parents Against Police Brutality,” later re-named the “Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality,” on Sept. 22, 1997. she said. The Coalition grew at a rapid pace after a public hearing on police killings in Detroit in front of Detroit City Council in 1998, where dozens more stepped forward to talk about killings, brutality and frame-ups by Detroit police. In 2000, this reporter broke the Brown killings story, headlined “Serial Killer Kops” in the Michigan Citizen.
UAW members turned out for massive rally against Detroit police killings, along with DCAPB, motorcycle clubs supporting Darren “Krunch” Miller, and deaf community supporting Errol Shaw, Sr.
David Ashenfelter, Suzette Hackney and Joe Swickard of the Detroit Free Press followed up, eventually revealing that Detroit had the highest rate of police killings in the country as of 2000. (See link below story.)
Massive protests followed as cops continued to kill that year, including cop David Krupinski’s killing of a deaf man with a rake, Errol Shaw, and the police slaughter of autoworker Dwight Turner as he stood on his porch shooting at a dangerous dog. The community demanded that Police Chief Benny Napoleon and then Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer resign. Napoleon was ousted from office later, and Archer declined to run again in 2001, after the massive Cincinnati rebellion against the police murder of Timothy Thomas, 19, and dozens of other Black men.
Deaf community joined with DCAPB to protest David Krupinski’s killing of Errol Shaw, Sr. in 2000.
Arnetta Grable said she went to meet then U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno in Washington, D.C., camping out in her office lobby overnight, pajamas and all, until she agreed to see her. The U.S. Justice Department finally came to Detroit and imposed two “consent agreements” on the Detroit Police Department to address use of force and deaths in prison jails. They also required the DPD to install dashcam videos on police cars. Later, it was revealed that only 15 percent of the videocameras were operational, as police went on killing.
With Cornell Squires (center) leading, the DCAPB protested his beating and the frame-ups of his son and cousins, along with other brutality on the southwest side.
The Grables and the DCAPB continued mobilizing, holding weekly meetings and frequent protests.
But the broad publicity about police killings ceased, as the mainstream media assumed the DOJ would bring about a change. It did not happen.
The DPD kept on killing and brutalizing residents. One of the cases involved was that of Cornell Squires, brutally beaten by Detroit cop Robert Feld. When he protested to the Police Commission, Squires’ son and cousins were framed up, and his son was falsely convicted and imprisoned. The children of Arnetta Grable were also targeted by police, with her other son facing constant harassment and eventual false imprisonment.
Protester Keka Harris points to lengthy list of police killings of Detroiters displayed at Lamar’s memorial Sept. 21, 2016. After Aiyana Jones’ death in 2010, she organized a broad neighborhood march of mothers against violence on the east side.
A partial listing of police killings of Detroiters from 1992 to 2016 was displayed on a poster at the memorial, compiled from stories collected from the Michigan Citizen and the Voice of Detroit. NO DETROIT COP HAS EVER BEEN CHARGED OR JAILED BY WAYNE COUNTY PROSECUTOR KYM WORTHY FOR MURDER.
Even Joseph Weekley, who killed 7-year-old Aiyana Jones in a vicious made-for-TV military-style raid of her home May 16, 2010, was indicted on involuntary manslaughter and firearms charges by a “grand jury” composed of Third Judicial Circuit Court Judge Timothy Kenny, chief of the court’s criminal division.
Protesters released balloons in memory of Lamar and others killed by police. Photo by Ven
At the conclusion of the memorial, protesters gathered in prayer, then released white, red and black balloons into the skies to remember Lamar and condemn officer Eugene Brown and other killer cops.
The idea for the sky banner for Lamar Grable was inspired by that flown by the Justice for Aiyana Jones Committee on the first-year anniversary of her death, on May 16, 2011. The company Traffic Displays (contact #616-225-8865 and ask for Cynthia or Jason) made and flew both banners.
Group remembers Lamar Grable and all victims of police violence in prayer Sept. 21, 2016. Photo by Ven
The Grable banner was flown over the site of his murder, then over Eugene Brown’s house near Mack and Burns, then to downtown Detroit over the Frank Murphy Hall. Aiyana’s banner was flown over the house where she was killed on Lillibridge near Mack, then downtown over police headquarters.
Justice for Aiyana Jones banner flies over her east-side Detroit neighborhood May 16, 2011.
Michigan Citizen stories by Diane Bukowski on Eugene Brown:
Related from VOD: stories cited below on cases listed in “Detroiters killed by police from 1992-2016” 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.
Family members of people murdered by Eugene Brown, as well as his injured victims, gathered outside Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s office to demand that Brown be charged after his civil trial and release of the “Shoulders Report.” Worthy refused.
Some of Michigan’s juvenile lifers: (l to r, top through bottom row), Cortez Davis EL* *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). Note: the prisoners with * by their names are members of the Thumb Correctional Facility G.O.A.L.S. program.
The U.S. is the ONLY country in the world that sentences children to die in prison
Michigan has the second highest number of juvenile lifers per capita among states in U.S.
Michigan one of only 4 states to oppose retroactivity of Miller until 2016
By Cortez Davis-EL
September 26, 2016
When the U.S. Supreme Court made its 2012 decision banning mandatory life without parole for juvenile offenders (Miller v. Alabama), more than 300 Michigan prisoners began to feel as if they were getting a second chance to right their wrongs. Four years later, they are still clinging to the hope of being free to repair that which they have broken, the trust of society.
Throughout the country, prosecutors were fighting tooth and nail trying to prevent the highest court in the land’s decision from applying to those whose cases were already finalized. When that fight proved to be unsuccessful, they began to regurgitate the false political talking points from the mid-1980’s. They tried to re-ignite the fears of those that were victims of crime- infested communities, induced when the alarm was falsely sounded about an infestation of juvenile “super-predators,” leading to the harsh treatment of children.
Superscapegoated: “Teen predator” hysteria set stage for racially-targeted draconian legislation.
Now that it has been shown that there were no super-predator children, the citizens demand to repeal the way children are treated and punished, starting with those that have been locked away for decades. The citizens, families of victims, and former state officials are on record saying they want to see this change occur. They want the men and women that fell short as children to show their redemption as adults. Society is ready and willing to give these people a second chance, so why hasn’t it been given? Those who were elected by the people have chosen not to hear the people.
They are still full of fear. Their fear comes in two stages. The first stage of fear is caused by uncertainty. They look at recidivism statistics for those that go to prison with 15 years and less and equate that to those who were told they would die in prison. While some sentenced to 15 years or less may leave prison the same way they arrived, the recidivism rate for those who have spent decades in prison, particularly for assaultive crimes, is very low.
For those prosecutors that have a real concern about the rehabilitation of a juvenile lifer that has been locked away twenty plus years, we commend you for protecting society. We watch the news and we are horrified at what we see. We don’t want just anybody living next to the people that we love and all we ask is that you look at who we are today and not what we were twenty years ago.
Juveniles sentenced to death in prison are not the same people they were as children.
Understand that the changes we’ve made didn’t start once the U.S. Supreme Court made the 2012 decision (Miller v. Alabama) nor once they made the 2016 decision (Montgomery v. Louisiana). We saw the need for change long before the possiblity of freedom existed for us. We want to contribute to society’s growth, not its destruction. We don’t want just anyone living next to our loved ones and we know society feels the same way about all that they love and vowed to protect. We no longer threaten the community. So instead of fearing our release, help us become successful upon release by advocating for the tools that are needed.
To the citizens of Michigan, we understand that we violated your trust. We understand that there is still pain and sorrow in your families and communities due to our actions. On behalf of myself and all the juvenile offenders that I have walked and talked with over the past twenty-two years, I am truly sorry for all of the pain and unrest that our actions caused. We truly ask for your forgiveness and blessings. We ask that you release your fears and welcome us back into your communities and allow us to help repair what we tore down and truly give.
There are many juvenile lifers that have already started trying to contribute to society while still incarcerated. A few of them are housed at the Thumb Correctional Facility in Lapeer, where Cortez Davis EL, Jose Burgos, Keith Maxey of Wayne County and Dontez Tillman of Oakland County are members of the G.O.A.L.S. Program, where we share our stories with at risk youth that are brought in by various agencies.
We are no longer mindless juveniles. The same people that are let out of prison and are successful are the same people that we grew up learning from, who give us a chance to succeed. Currently, Cortez Davis volunteers as a mentor with the G.O.A.L.S. Program at the Thumb Correctional Facility, and speaks to at risk youths brought into the facility by various agencies from various counties. With all that has been said about Mr. Davis, is there any penological justification for not releasing him and accepting him back into society? Would you give him a chance?
What does rehabilitation look like? Does it resemble Jose Burgos, a juvenile lifer whose time in prison expands over two and a half decades? Like Cortez, Mr. Burgos has also undergone rehabilitative transformation and no longer has a child-like mentality. Jose Burgos has obtained his GED and is educated in various fields that would be a benefit to the community that he calls home.
Mr. Burgos is also a mentor with the G.O.A.L.S. Program at the Thumb Correctional Facility, deterring other juveniles from becoming him by making the same choices that he made at their age. Jose Burgos is also a healer in his own right. He works as a prisoner observation aid (POA) talking to and preventing mentally disturbed prisoners from committing suicide that are placed on suicide watch. Is Jose Burgos someone that you would oppose giving a second chance to? Does rehabilitation look like Jose Burgos?
What about Paul Young, Terrance Thomas, Jeremy Longerbeam, and Ryan Kendrick? All juvenile lifers housed at the Thumb Correctional Facility in Lapeer.
These four individuals have been incarcerated for decades and continue to prove their readiness to rejoin society. These men have all obtained their GED’s and strive for other academic opportunities that do not come easy for lifers of any age. They collectively sought out ways to give back to society, and gain knowledge that will guide us to live successfully. Michigan does not treat lifers and non- lifers alike when it comes to education. Lifers have to create avenues to take classes and participate in educational programs. We have to strive hard for every inch that is obtained.
“Our day-to-day role at Stiggy’s Dogs is often that of teacher. We teach our inmate handlers how to train our dogs, our dogs how to assist our handlers, and our veterans how to work with their new partner. However, every day spent instructing others has handed us our own lessons in return. If there’s anything that we’ve learned from our STaR Cadet program at Thumb Correctional Facility, it’s how incredible things can happen when a dedicated group of people work together for a common cause.”–Stiggy’s Dogs
One chance came when they successfully persuaded the prison administration to allow Stiggy’s Dogs, a non-profit dog rescue organization, to establish a behavior training and rehabilitation site at the Thumb Correctional Facility. This organization, with the help of these individuals, transforms battered, abandoned, and abused dogs into service dogs and pets for veterans living with PTSD and other traumatic brain injuries and elders that need companionship.
Are the men in this article a reflection of what rehabilitation looks like? Do you still fear these men and others like them, or are you simply still mad at them? If you believe in the rehabilitation system and that people are sent to prison for rehabilitation, when will you accept that the system works?
Families of juvenile lifers as well as some victims, known as “Second Chance,” joined together at Michigan State Legislature to demand an end to JLWOP.
VOD: Cortez Davis-EL is now 33, and was sentenced to juvenile life without parole in 1994, only after a Michigan Appeals Court overturned the original sentence of 10-14 years handed out by Judge Vera Massey-Jones. He has now served 22 years.
Judge Vera Massey-Jones
Prosecutor Kym Worthy
After the Miller decision, Judge Massey-Jones set a date to re-sentence him according to the Miller rules, but Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy appealed her action. Mr. Davis-El has now served far longer than the time intended by his original judge, who called JLWOP “unconstitutional” long before the U.S. Supreme Court rulings on JLWOP. Judge Massey-Jones, who is now retired after a long, illustrious career, said in 2012:
“I stayed here because I wanted to see justice done to my people. I followed my father around Recorder’s Court when I was a little kid . . . .I had a great deal of respect for him and for the other people who happened to be African-American lawyers, and really fought for people’s rights. And so, to me, doing the right thing was more important than anything else. And doing the right thing back then was not to sentence Mr. Davis to natural life in prison.”