Meadows has been incarcerated for 47 years, since the age of 16
On Sept. 23, Judge Bruce Morrow sentenced Meadows to 25-45 yrs. with a credit of 16,930 days; Chief Judge Timothy Kenny signed off on sentence
Prosecution appealed, demanding 60 year max; case awaits COA hearing
Support Edward Sanders and David Walton at re-sentencing Tues. Nov. 29 at 9 a.m. — Judge James Chylinski should look at Meadows case
“I really don’t feel that there should be every door slammed shut on a sixteen-year-old.” – Detroit Recorders Court Judge Susan Borman, 1975
By Diane Bukowski
November 25, 2016
Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Morrow
DETROIT – A ray of light has broken through the mean clouds surrounding Michigan’s draconic juvenile lifer re-sentencing processes, in the case of Zerious Bobby Meadows.
On Sept. 23, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Morrow re-sentenced Meadows to a term of 25-45 years with a time-served credit of 16, 930 days. The sentence was signed off on by Chief Criminal Court Judge Timothy Kenny. It should have meant Meadows’ immediate release.
However, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy appears determined to exact every pound of flesh possible from the county’s juvenile lifers, even if it means their dying in prison. She appealed Judge Morrow’s re-sentence of Meadows, without giving notice during the hearing. She claims that state statutes governing juvenile lifer re-sentencing MANDATE a maximum term of 60 years for those for whom the prosecutor does not re-recommend JLWOP. She has also asked for his case to be re-assigned to another judge. The case has now been stayed pending an appeals court decision.
Wayne Co. Pros. Kym Worthy at odds with Morrow, Kenny
Wayne County Circuit Court Criminal Chief Judge Timothy Kenny.
Mr. Meadows was sentenced to juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) for a crime of felony murder committed in 1970 when he was 16. He has now served 47 years in prison and is 62 years old. He has a stellar prison record, with only 3 misconducts in 47 years, the last 20 years ago. He also has a large number of family members and friends ready to support him on release, according to his attorney Melvin Houston.
At the time of Meadows’ sentencing on re-trial in 1975, then Recorders Court Judge Susan Borman challenged the practice of sending children to die in prison.
Recorders Court Judge Susan Borman (top r) with others inducted into Recorders Court in 1973 including noted Judge James Del rio (seated at right).
“. . . I really don’t feel that there should be every door slammed shut on a sixteen-year-old, Judge Borman said. “I think there should be some room after the serving of a very long sentence, true, there should be some room for eventual parole in a case such as this. I think that there is something wrong with the law that gives the court no discretion at all. Where the defendant has to spend the rest of his natural life behind bars, and it is particularly tragic in a case where it is a sixteen-year-old child that has been convicted.”
The Appeals Court has granted a prosecution motion for immediate consideration, but denied the prosecution’s motion to waive production of the transcripts. Once those are received, the higher court’s decision should affect the cases of hundreds of other juvenile lifers being automatically re-sentenced to the maximum term of 60 years. That maximum is referred to in state laws meant to undercut the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic Miller v. Alabama (2012) and Montgomery v. Louisiana (2016) rulings that juvenile life without parole is unconstitutional, “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Those juvenile lifers include individuals like Edward Sanders, who brought Meadows’ case to VOD’s attention, and David Walton.
Their re-sentencing hearing is set for Tues. Nov. 29 at 9 a.m. in front of Judge James Chylinski. They are asking family and friends to turn out in force. Both have been locked up 41 years since the ages of 17, for a drive-by killing in which they were not the shooters. Both have excellent prison records as well. Sanders graduated from college in prison and has become a jailhouse lawyer, while Walton
With regard to Meadows, Atty. Houston told the Court of Appeals that recent court decisions are not in line with Worthy’s stance.
He cites a 2016 decision by the Sixth Circuit Court in Starks v. Easterling, which says, “lengthy sentences that approach or exceed a defendant’s life expectancy, regardless of whether that sentence bears the title ‘life without parole,’ constitutes ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment when imposed on youth, and violates the constitutional mandates of Miller and Montgomery.” Wayne County is within the Sixth Circuit’s jurisdiction.
Parole board hearing
Houston continues, “Absent the court issuing an individualized sentence for Mr. Meadows based on the extensive evidence presented, the court would be abdicating its responsibility. Another ruling Atty. Houston cites from says, “Placing the decision with the Parole Board, with its limited resources and lack of sentencing expertise, is not a substitute for a judicially imposed sentence.”
In a 2015 article, How Parole Boards Keep Prisoners in the Dark and Behind Bars, the Washington Post reported, “In 1997, the Michigan board published a report trumpeting its transformation into “a Parole Board that is much less willing to release criminals who complete their minimum sentences — and much less willing to release criminals at all, forcing many to serve their maximum sentences.”
Former Michigan Gov. John Engler made parole nearly impossible.
Stephen Marschke, head of Michigan’s first Engler-appointed parole board.
Attorney Houston responded to the prosecutor’s appeal of Mr. Meadows’ re-sentencing under MCL 769.25a(4)(c).
That statute, Atty. Houston says, “sets the maximum as 60 years and does not prevent a term of less than 60 years. Therefore, Mr. Meadows’ sentence of 25-45 years is within the statute’s limits. The phrase ‘a maximum of 60 years’ means just that—the maximum must be 60 years. If the legislature wanted to deprive the sentencing court of any and all jurisdiction in this matter, it would easily have said ‘no less than 60 years.’ The People’s interpretation is not only contrary to Miller and Montgomery, it is inconsistent with some of the provisions recently addressed by the Michigan Supreme Court in People v. Lockridge . . .”
He compares this to language in MCL 769.25 which DOES include the language “not less than 60 years.”
“This supports the legislative intent to treat those who had already served long, unconstitutional sentences, like Mr. Meadows, and for whom the court had the opportunity to review the evidence of behavior and rehabilitation after years (in this case 47 years!) should have the authority to render a proportional sentence based on the evidence,” Atty. Houston writes.
Florida juvenile lifer Christopher Burton
As one precedent, he cites an unpublished decision by the 13th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, which struck down a state statute requiring a mandatory minimum sentencing of 40 years for juvenile lifers there, calling it unconstitutional. The case is State of Florida vs. Christopher Burton.
“Miller requires ‘that a sentence follow a certain process—considering an offender’s youth and attendant characteristics—before imposing a particular penalty,” Circuit Judge William Fuente wrote in the decision. “But the mandatory sentencing provision of section 775.082(1)(b) prevents a sentencing court from exercising the full extent of judicial discretion that Miller requires. This facet of the statute is irreconcilable with prevailing Eighth Amendment jurisprudence.”
Houston says Mr. Meadows at the age of 62 is not the same person he was at 16.
“Mr. Meadows was a juvenile when he was arrested in this case and has since matured into an adult; in other words, the person convicted of setting fire to the Turner’s home back in 1970 is not the same person who was resentenced on September 23, 2016. Mr. Meadows completed his G.E.D., as well as some post-high school education while incarcerated. He has also completed both AA and NA programs offered by the MDOC.
Meadows has extensive family support, says his attorney Melvin Houston.
“Mr. Meadows’ work performance has received numerous positive evaluations. . . These reports note that Mr. Meadows is a good worker, doing a good job, and that he takes pride in completing assignments. Mr. Meadows was recommended for and completed Machine Shop I and II. He has clearly taken advantage of the opportunities made available to him by the MDOC.”
Houston adds, “On a personal note, Mr. Meadows enjoys broad support from his large circle of family and friends. He has seven surviving siblings, along with numerous nieces and nephews. Since his incarceration began, the record shows Mr. Meadows has received at least one visit each month from either his mother (his father, who passed away about twenty years ago, was also a frequent visitor), one of his sisters, one of his brothers, the children of his siblings, or one of his many friends. Because of this large support network, Mr. Meadows will have a stable place to live with the support of people who love him.”
The Appeals Court panel that will rule on Mr. Meadows’ re-sentencing is composed of Christopher M, Murray, Presldlng Judge, and Judges Karen M. Fort Hood and Michael J, Riordan.
Cornell Squires (in yellow shirt) at twenty-year memorial for Lamar Grable, dead at the hands of serial killer kop Eugene Brown and his partner Vicki Yost Sept. 21, 1996. To Cornell’s right are Lamar’s mother and brother Arnetta and Aaron Grable. Lamar’s father Herman Vallery is seated at right, being interviewed by TV Media. Others are Juanita Young, seated in front of Cornell, Mertilla Jones, grandmother of Aiyana Jones, and Joshua Lopez. Oct. 22 Coalition members Young and Lopez flew in from New York for the event. Cornell Squires along with Arnetta Grable and Herman Vallery helped co-found the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality.
CORNELL’S GRANDCHILDREN CORDAI AND ARI, BY HIS BELOVED SON CORNELL EMMANUEL, LOVED THEIR GRANDPA, WHO THEY CALLED “PAPA BEAR.”
UPDATE: FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS:
KERNAN FUNERAL HOME
1020 FORT STREET, LINCOLN PARK
VISITATION SUN. NOV. 27 1-5 PM
SERVICE MON. NOV. 28 AT FUNERAL HOME
FAMILY HOUR 10 A.M. SERVICE 10:30 A.M.
CORNELL EDWARD SQUIRES, Sunrise JUNE 18, 1957 Sunset NOVEMBER 19, 2018 Loving father of Cornell. Cherished son of Vester and the late Eugene. Dear brother of Eugene Jr., Jeanette and Calvin (Kelly). Proud grandfather of Cordai and Ari. Loved dearly by nieces and nephews Freddie, Maurice, Morgan and Camille.
The late Mayor of Jackson, MS. Chokwe Lumumba at appeals court hearing where Mr. Lumumba represented Squires. They are now both at rest with the ancestors.
DETROIT — The world is a much smaller place today since the passing of our beloved brother, dear friend to so many, dear son, father, brother and grandfather, and fellow activist Cornell Squires on Nov. 19, 2016, at the age of 59.
His heart was larger than that world. It will never be the same without him; we will mourn him for the rest of our lives, but be assured that we will follow in his footsteps as well. He taught so many so much and was an inspiration for the ages.
Cornell Squires, born June 18, 1957, passed away unexpectedly but peacefully, likely of a heart attack, as he was assisting his long-time dear friend Arnetta Grable, Sr. at the hotel where she was temporarily staying in Southfield, Michigan. He took a brief rest in a chair, and went to sleep. Then he went home to Allah, the Great Spirit, God, or the many other names under which people know that eternal life force. Cornell himself was extremely spiritual and began each day by calling his dear mother Vester Squires to pray with her.
Cornell Squires (r) and supporters of his son and young cousins who had been framed up by “Robocop” William Melendez march on Detroit’s old 4th Precinct in 2000. This was three years before the feds charged Melendez and 17 other cops with running a Ramparts-style ring that terrorized the southwest side. Squires’ son was falsely accused of attempted carjacking; his young cousins’ home was invaded by Detroit police who planted drugs there. Squires himself was previously assaulted by Detroit cop Robert Feld, a beating which Squires father Eugene Squires and mother Vester Squires stopped.His father had a heart attack which later proved fatal. Cornell was a co-founder of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality along with Arnetta Grable and Herman Vallery.
Mrs. Squires, Cornell’s son Cornell Emmanuel and Cornell Emmanuel’s mother Carla, grandson Cordai, Cornell’s brothers, Mrs. Grable and her son Aaron Grable and daughter’s friend Shae gathered at the hotel after his death, along withseveral fellow activists including this writer, to grieve his passing. His family will be announcing his funeral arrangements shortly, which will be published here.
Cornell Squires () with anti-foreclosure activists (l to r) Beverly Kindle-Walker, Kamala El, and Queen Mother Dr. Nefertiti-El.
“It’s time for younger and older men alike to stand against corruption, police brutality, and all injustice in our communities,” Cornell, a reporter and photographer for Voice of Detroit, wrote in an article April 9, 2015, last year.
“Americans must stand up for the truth and our personal freedom! All human beings have a constitutional right for equality and God given rights no man can take away! God is the true lawgiver.”
Cornell Squires (2nd from r) with Rev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor, framed up and imprisoned by Whirlpool’s political lapdogs, and other Detroiters including Cindy Darrah, Marcina Cole, and Kim Green. They traveled to Benton Harbor May 24, 2014 for Pinkney court hearing.
Cornell Squires cannot be replaced. He was unique in that he had no personal agenda. He was motivated by a true love for the people, as Che Guevara said. He cared about each individual he worked with, their families, and their individual problems. He freely gave his heart and hard work to each person he worked with for justice.
When called to help, he would arrive with his large, calm, reassuring presence, comfort those who needed it, and go on with whatever work was needed for them.
Cornell fought to free juvenile lifer Charles Lewis, attending and covering his court hearings. He was a dear friend of Lewis’ mother and sister Rosie and Wendy Lewis.
As a paralegal with We the People for the People, RicoBusters, the Detroit Active and Retired Employee Association (DAREA), the Coalition to Free Rev. Edward Pinkney, the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, the National Oct. 22 Coalition, the Detroit Black Farmers, and numerous other groups, he personally assisted thousands of people across Detroit and Michigan in saving their homes, their children from state kidnapping and from prison, and their very lives in the battle against police murders.
Cornell recently did tireless paralegal work to stop the outrageous imprisonment of Mary Stafford, sentenced to 1-10 years by Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Michael Hathaway after a “deed fraud” trial of Mrs. Stafford and her husband Clifford Stafford, rife with judicial and prosecutorial misconduct, and based on falsified evidence.
Cornell took on the battle against the Dearborn police in the case of Terry Jerome Jones, injured for life by Dearborn police for “walking while Black,” down Michigan Avenue on Sept. 4, 2011. He helped Jones’ cousin Antoinette Austin initiate and fight an ongoing lawsuit against the city and the police. He went on to cover the brutal killing of Kevin Matthews, another mentally challenged man, by a Dearborn cop on Dec. 23, 2015.
VIDEO BELOW BY CORNELL SQUIRES
Earlier, with his dear friend the late great attorney Leonard Eston, one of the last great legal warriors from the 1960’s, Cornell fought hundreds of cases, many times with no compensation. Cornell and Leonard Eston successfully restored the law license of the late people’s hero and Mayor of Mississippi, Chokwe Lumumba, also a friend of Cornell’s.
One of the people they helped was Ed Wilcox, a Detroiter whose neck was broken by the six white Southfield cops in 2009. They pulled him out of his car, threw him on the ground, put a foot on his neck, and tasered him four times. He nearly died from the beating.
He survived chiefly by yelling just so he could breathe before a friend took him to the hospital, and doctors discovered a disc had nearly severed his spine, which would have left him a paraplegic. He still suffers from seizures causing his arms and legs to shake, pain, and has to take medication just to sleep.
Cornell and Leonard Easton worked with him on a federal lawsuit which got thrown out of the Eastern District six times before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals sent it back and ordered the district to deal with it. After Eston passed, Cornell kept working with Wilcox, filing a case with the U.S. Department of Justice, going to U.S. Rep. John Conyers, and also to Barbara McQuade of the Detroit Attorney General’s office.
Gwen Mingo, still at home in Brush Park.
Another dear friend Cornell went all out to support in her battles against her own eviction and the gentrification of Brush Park was Gwendolyn Mingo. She herself became a leader of hundreds, fighting to preserve the homes of families who had lived there for decades. The area has now become a playground for the well-to-do, including a complex of sports arenas for the Red Wings, Pistons, Tigers, and Lions, all of them owned by multi-billionaires, surrounded by luxury condo developments, restaurants and retail establishments. But through Gwen’s efforts, aided by Cornell, Arnetta Grable, Ron Seigel of the Michigan Citizen, and numerous others, she still lives in her own home there.
Cornell was also a City of Detroit retiree. He worked for 12 years as an EMS technician, and fought the administration to get better ambulances and conditions for the workers. Then he was forced to fight for his disability pension, which he only started receiving last year, many years after he had to leave the job due to stress and harassment by management.
Cornell Squires (rear) interviewed and reported on massive lay-offs taking place in the Detroit Water and Sewerage Dept. He is shown here with (l to r) laid-off workers Sammy Barber, Edward Collins, and Dean E. Fox Sr. after interview at Bert’s.
He joined the struggle with the Detroit Active and Retired Employee Association after the emergency manager takeover of Detroit, and the phony bankruptcy which followed. He worked on the legal committee which helped draft ongoing lawsuits against the drastic cuts retirees experienced to their annuity savings fund and health care.
Cornell worked with Bert Dearing of Bert’s Warehouse and Theater to draft a federal lawsuit which put a stay on the foreclosure and takeover of Dearing’s property, part of the assault on Black-owned businesses in Detroit. Cornell himself was previously a business owner, of a car lot on Detroit’s southwest side. He also worked tirelessly to find opportunities for the youth in his distressed far southwest neighborhood for recreation and employment.
Photo by Cornell Squires at Doll’s Go-Kart Track on Oakman near Grand River. Cornell was good friends with owners Ron and Darleen Hereford, and worked with them to stop theft of this property, and the frame-up of their son.
Cornell recently began attending meetings of New Era Detroit, held at Bert’s Warehouse every Thursday. He was excited to see young Detroiters beginning to organize independently for the future of the youth and of Detroit.
All of those who benefited from Cornell’s love and hard work will have many stories to tell. The Voice of Detroit invites all to contribute to the coverage of this great man’s life by either submitting their comments below or writing their own articles and sending them to email@example.com or the Voice of Detroit, P.O. Box 32684, Detroit, MI 48232.
Cornell Squires speaks at rally against tax foreclosures and home auctions. He called all foreclosures illegal because of the lack of yearly property assessments. He was recently working on exposing the fact that all the Wayne County Sheriff’s Deeds in these foreclosures have been illegally notarized with a rubber stamp, not a signature, and are invalid.
Cornell’s death felt like a grenade lobbed through our chests, leaving a huge hole that will nonetheless eventually heal, cradling him and his heart and spirit at the center of our beings.
Part of the story of Cornell’s life with the Voice of Detroit, the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, the Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association, and the battle for Michigan’s juvenile lifers is portrayed here in photos. There will be much more to come after his home-going ceremonies are complete.
Cornell, you carried out your mission with courage, bravery, unbounded love, and unflagging determination and you were loved by thousands. When God felt it was time and your mission was complete, he called you home. Rest in his loving arms and the arms of your late father Eugene Squires, and late brother Odell Squires, in power and in peace, and in our love.
The world as we know it will never be the same without you. Love you forever, Cornell.
At April 28, 2015 rally for Terrance Kellom, 19, executed by ICE and Detroit police earlier that month, members of the Original Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality: (l to r) Lamar Grable with his mother Arnetta Grable Jr., Butch Carrington, Arnetta Grable Sr., Herman Vallery, and Cornell Squires.
Cornell (right) marched with protesters in Inkster April 3, 2015 against the brutal beating of Floyd Dent by “Robocop” William Melendez, the same cop who framed Cornell’s son.
Cornell (center) helped his dear friends Luis and Cecilia Espinoza fight for custody of their youngest child against CPS in 2011. He also worked with them to stop the foreclosure of their home.
Cornell Squires with dear friends
Cornell is shown at right with (l to r) Mailauni Williams, her mother Lennette Williams, behind them Ron Hereford, and Arnetta Grable, Sr. He and Arnetta fought for Lennette to maintain custody of her daughter and control of her finances against vicious Probate Court officials who savaged a settlement awarded to the Williams family related to hospital neglect in Mailauni’s birth.
CORNELL SQUIRES WAS AN ACTIVE MEMBER OF RICOBUSTERS. ONE OF THEIR MANY VIDEOS IS SHOWN BELOW.
Lead kills brain cells, but it took a federal judge to order that households in Flint, Michigan, be delivered four cases of bottled water to prevent further damage to their health. Meanwhile, the perpetrators of the mass poisoning “were rewarded with blanket immunity and protection by the State.” One wonders, “How different the reaction of the Obama administration would have been had ISIS claimed responsibility.”
“The Flint water crisis is the pathway for future genocidal acts against Africans in America just as the Tuskegee experiment was the pathway to Flint.”
For nearly one year, EPA and state officials (and presumably the president) knew, according to Congressional testimony, that residents of Flint, Michigan, were drinking, bathing, washing dishes in lead-poisoned water, and providing formula laced with poisoned water to infants. There is little hope for Flint’s predominantly black children who have ingested, and absorbed dangerous levels of lead. The poisoning of Flint’s water supply was simply the latest act of domestic terrorism towards Africans in America.
Ice sculpture at State Capitol Building in Lansing, MI.
But, the horror of the Flint water crisis has not stopped. What has stopped is the corporate media coverage of the carnage.
This week, a federal judge, David Lawson, ruled that residents of Flint who continue to face lead contamination of their water supply are entitled to delivery of free bottled water to their homes. State officials must deliver each week four cases of bottled water to Flint households that don’t have “properly installed taps.” This ruling, while important, clearly falls short of the dignity and respect Flint residents deserve. In fact, the State of Michigan, without remorse or shame, has argued against such provisions.
“If the residents of Flint were considered fully human or valued citizens why should they have to fight for the provision of clean water?”
Flint residents have complained that the approximate $234 million that has been committed by the state of Michigan is inadequate to replace lead service lines, provide additional healthcare, clean water and water filters. Victims of this crisis have voiced concern that phone lines to arrange for water delivery and staffing at water stations have proved insufficient to meet the needs of the community. In addition, the State reduced service hours and eliminated service at water supply stations altogether on Sundays. One resident complained:
“Most of the people who’ve called [the phone service] never had people come out. It’s just not staffed.”
The late Tashi Kiya at protest against mass water shut-offs in Detroit.
The State has argued that water delivery to qualifying households is an additional unnecessary expense costing $9 million. It was this same kind of argument that led the City Manager appointed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder in April, 2014, to switch the city’s water supply to the polluted Flint River and then failed to require the city, because of financial considerations, to use corrosion controls to prevent lead from leaching off water pipes to private homes.
If the residents of Flint were considered fully human or valued citizens why should they have to fight for the provision of clean water? As humans and citizens this is their right! The State has shown, once again, that Black lives do not matter in Flint and that residents will have to fight for life-sustaining water.
The poisoning of Flint water should be considered an act of terror and should have been prosecuted under US terrorism laws and all involved indicted for domestic terror. But not one senior EPA or state official was fired or indicted — criminal blame was reserved for low-level technicians. The poisoning was never treated as an “emergency” situation. In fact, until residents of Flint started to protest, federal and state officials were content to allow the poisoning to continue.
“Victims of this crisis have voiced concern that phone lines to arrange for water delivery and staffing at water stations have proved insufficient to meet the needs of the community.”
Pres. Obama greeted by Mich. Gov. Rick Snyder on his arrival in Flint.
What this crisis has clearly exposed is that Flint was a deliberate poisoning of a low-income Black community. The perpetrators of this terrorist act were rewarded with blanket immunity and protection by the State. The EPA Administrator and Governor of Michigan will soon reap the benefits of being “good Germans” as they leave public service for lucrative private sector positions.
It took President Obama nearly two years to travel to Flint for what was promoted as a “briefing.” How different the reaction of the Obama administration would have been had ISIS claimed responsibility for poisoning Flint.
The EPA had the power to issue a cease and desist order against the State of Michigan under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA Section 1431) that allows the EPA to seize control of State’s water system:
“… Upon receipt of information that a contaminant that is present in or likely to enter a public water system or an underground source of drinking water … that may present an imminent and substantial endangerment to the health of persons, the EPA administrator may take any action she deems necessary to protect human health.”
According to congressional testimony by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the EPA’s paltry excuse for not invoking congressionally mandated emergency powers was that they wanted to allow Michigan State agencies enough time to settle this matter. In the interim, women suffered miscarriages, Flint residents suffered strokes, and children developed neuro-toxic levels of lead poisoning that impact their intellectual and cognitive function.
“The EPA Administrator and Governor of Michigan will soon reap the benefits of being ‘good Germans’ as they leave public service for lucrative private sector positions.”
EPA head Gina McCarthy testifying at Congress Sept. 15, 2015 about Flint water crisis. That is obviously NOT a jug of Flint water at her side.
Members of Congress called for the resignations of both the Michigan Governor and the EPA Administrator. While Obama did not have the power to unseat an elected Governor, he has the power to fire EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy who serves at the pleasure of the president.
His decision was to leave McCarthy in place presumably because of the good job she performed in Flint. What is perhaps most revealing about the background story of the poisoning incident is that President Obama, by leaving McCarthy as head of the EPA, reaffirmed his faith in her abilities to carry out the mandate of his administration, including handling the more than over 300 additional water systems throughout the country, primarily in Black and low income communities, that indicate toxic levels of lead in the water.
History will judge that the Flint water crisis is the pathway for future genocidal acts against Africans in America just as the Tuskegee experiment was the pathway to Flint. One should note that the Tuskegee experiment (1932-1972), conducted by the US Public Health Service, consisted initially of a sample size of 399 Black men. The Flint water poisoning “experiment” (starting in 2014) consisted of a city of nearly 100,000 residents. The escalation of organized violence, such as Tuskegee and Flint should trigger a mass movement to protect African life particularly as we contemplate policies of the Trump Administration.
Dr. Marsha Adebayo is the author of the Pulitzer Prize nominated: No FEAR: A Whistleblowers Triumph over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA. She worked at the EPA for 18 years and blew the whistle on a US multinational corporation that endangered South African vanadium mine workers. Marsha’s successful lawsuit led to the introduction and passage of the first civil rights and whistleblower law of the 21st century: the Notification of Federal Employees Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (No FEAR Act). She is Director of Transparency and Accountability for the Green Shadow Cabinet and serves on the Advisory Board of ExposeFacts.com.
In late 2012, Peter Turchin, a professor at the University of Connecticut made a startling claim, based on an analysis of revolutionary upheavals across history.
He found there are three social conditions in place shortly before all major outbreaks of social violence: an increase in the elite population; a decrease in the living standards of the masses; and huge levels of government indebtedness.
The statistical model his team developed suggested that, on this basis, a major wave of social upheaval and revolutionary violence is set to take place in the US in 2020. His model had no way to predict who would lead the charge; but this week’s election gives an indication of how it is likely to unfold.
Let’s take the first condition, which Turchin calls “elite overproduction,” defined as “an increased number of aspirants for the limited supply of elite positions.” The US has clearly been heading in this direction for some time, with the number of billionaires increasing more than tenfold from 1987 (41 billionaires) to 2012 (425 billionaires). But the ruling class split between, for example, industrialists and financiers, has apparently reached fever pitch with Trump vs. Clinton.
As Turchin explains, “increased intra-elite competition leads to the formation of rival patronage networks vying for state rewards. As a result, elites become riven by increasing rivalry and factionalism.” Indeed, based on analysis of thousands of incidents of civil violence across world history, Turchin concluded that “the most reliable predictor of state collapse and high political instability was elite overproduction.”
Homeless in downtown Detroit’s Campus Martius, now a gentrified playground for the rich. Fifty-nine percent of Detroit’s children live in poverty.
The second condition, popular immiseration, is also well advanced. Forty-six million US citizens live in poverty (defined as receiving an income less than is required to cover their basic needs), while over 12 million US households are now considered food insecure. While this figure has been coming down consistently since 2011 (when it reached over 15 million), it remains above its pre-recession (per-2007) levels.
Trump’s policies are likely to sharply reverse this decrease. Trump’s second promise in his ‘contract with voters’ is a “hiring freeze on all federal employees,” amounting to a new onslaught on public sector jobs. This is in addition to what seems to be a promise to end the direct funding of state education (to, in his words, “redirect education dollars to…parents”), and to end all federal funding to so-called ‘sanctuary cities’, that is cities which do not order the state harassment of immigrants or force employers to reveal the nationalities of their workers. These cities are some of the most populated in the country, including NYC, LA, Dallas, Minneapolis and over two dozen others.
Well-to-do partiers across the street from homeless in Campus Martius.
In concert with his avowed intention to lower taxes on the wealthy, including slashing business tax from 35 to 15 percent; to smash hard fought workers’ rights (under the mantra of ‘deregulation’); and to scrap what little access to healthcare was made available to the poor through Obamacare – not to mention his threat to start a trade war with China – poverty looks set to skyrocket. It is not hard to see how social unrest will follow.
As for the third condition–government indebtedness – it is hard to see how the massive tax breaks Trump has proposed can lead to anything else.
Turchin writes that “As all these trends intensify, the end result is state fiscal crisis and bankruptcy and consequent loss of military control; elite movements of regional and national rebellion; and a combination of elite-mobilized and popular uprisings that manifest the breakdown of central authority.”
Detroit Police raid team approaches home of Aiyana Jones, 7. They shot her to death as her two little brothers, parents, grandmother and other relatives looked on: Detroit, May 16, 2010
But Trump is also preparing for that. Exempt from his public spending cuts, of course, are police and military budgets, both of which he promises to increase. And when questioned on the issue of police brutality last year, Trump said he wanted to see the police be given more powers. In other words, the tacit impunity which currently exists for police violence looks set to be legalized. And history shows that there is nothing like police impunity to spark a riot.
Meanwhile, as his policies fail to deliver the land of milk and honey he has promised, the demonization of scapegoats will continue. Having already vowed to round up and deport two million immigrants, and to ban Muslims from entering the US, it is already clear who these scapegoats will be. However, as well as migrants, popular anger will also be directed toward whatever namby-pamby liberals have blocked him from waging his promised war against them: be it Congressmen, judges, trade unions, pressure groups, or whoever. A combination of increased executive powers plus the use of his newly mobilized mass constituency will be directed toward purging these ‘enemies within’.
Trump is already planning to move auto jobs from Michigan.
“My model suggests that the next [peak in violence] will be worse than the one in 1970” says Turchin, “because demographic variables such as wages, standards of living and a number of measures of intra-elite confrontation are all much worse this time”. All that remains to be seen is – who will win.
*Dan Glazebrook is a freelance political writer who has written for RT, Counterpunch, Z magazine, the Morning Star, the Guardian, the New Statesman, the Independent and Middle East Eye, amongst others. His first book “Divide and Ruin: The West’s Imperial Strategy in an Age of Crisis” was published by Liberation Media in October 2013.
It featured a collection of articles written from 2009 onwards examining the links between economic collapse, the rise of the BRICS, war on Libya and Syria and ‘austerity’. He is currently researching a book on US-British use of sectarian death squads against independent states and movements from Northern Ireland and Central America in the 1970s and 80s to the Middle East and Africa today.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
By BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
November 8, 2016
(Photos added by VOD)
Donald Trump, the white nationalist that claimed to oppose the corporate establishment, appears to have won the U.S. presidency. But, “even the victory of the openly bigoted Trump poses an opportunity to right our political ship.” The Democrats were not “our” party, but the party that thought they owned us. Their “rejection must be complete and blame must be laid squarely at their feet” for raising those chickens that have come home to roost.
“The Democrats were so entrenched in their corruption and self-dealing that they didn’t see the Bernie Sanders campaign for modest reform as the savior it might have been.”
This columnist did not see a Donald Trump victory coming. The degree of disgust directed at an awful candidate was more than I had predicted. Neither the corporate media, nor Wall Street nor the pundits nor the pollsters saw this coming either. Their defeat and proof of their uselessness is total. Those of us who rejected the elite consensus and didn’t support Hillary Clinton should be proud.
Bill Clinton and Barack Obama at Democratic National Convention,
Black people are now in fear and in shock when we ought to be spoiling for a fight. All is not lost. Even the victory of the openly bigoted Trump poses an opportunity to right our political ship. Not the electoral ship, the political one.
For decades Black Americans have been voting for people who have done them wrong. Bill Clinton got rid of public assistance as a right, and undid regulations that kept Wall Street in check. He put Black people in jail and yet Black people didn’t turn on him until he and his wife tried to defeat Obama. But Obama gave us more of the same. Bailouts of Wall Street, interventions and death for people all over the world, and a beat down of Black people who still loved him. Despite the fear of Republican victory we end up losing whenever a Democratic presidential candidate wins.
Linda Willis at protest in Detroit, 2012; Detroit is now stripped of its assets under bankruptcy; banks profit.
“Obama bailed out banks, insurance companies, Big Pharma and even Ukraine.”
Victory is ours if we dump the Democrat Party and their Black misleaders. The Democrats were so entrenched in their corruption and self-dealing that they didn’t see the Bernie Sanders campaign for modest reform as the savior it might have been.
Instead they marched in lock step with a woman who was heartily disliked. Sanders went along as the sheep dog who led his flock straight over the cliff. The Democrats inadvertently galvanized people who had stopped participating in the system and who want change from top to bottom.
One of our biggest problems lies not in facts but in perceptions. What did Democrats do for Black people? The Democrats ship living wage jobs off shore in corrupt trade deals like NAFTA and TTP. They don’t prosecute killer cops or raise the minimum wage. Trump will be hard pressed to deport more people than Obama did. The list of treachery is very long.
Protest against Flint water crisis/Photo: Record Eagle
When Donald Trump asked Black people, “What have you got to lose?” his words were met with derision. But in reality he posed a good question. What do we have to show for years of Democratic votes?
Obama bailed out banks, insurance companies, Big Pharma and even Ukraine. But he didn’t rebuild Detroit or New Orleans. The water in Flint, Michigan is still poisoned and the prisons are still full.
“There may be opportunity in this crisis if we dare to seize it.”
The outpouring of love for Barack Obama was purely symbolic. In state after state, Black people who gave him victory in 2008 and 2012 stayed home. They loved seeing him and his wife dressed up at state dinners but they were never fully engaged in politics because that is not what Democrats want. The love was phony and void of any political intent. Donald Trump will be president because of that veneer of political activism.
South African President Nelson Mandela and Libyan Pres. Muammar Gadhafi after first U.S. bombing; Hillary Clinton later gave the orders to assassinate Gadhafi in final US/NATO annihilation of Libya.
As for white people who voted for Trump, of course many of them are racists. However they are not without valid complaints. They don’t want neoliberalism but Black people don’t either. They don’t want wars around the world and neither do Black people. We corrupt our own heritage of radicalism in favor of shallow symbolism.
While we slept walk in foolish nostalgia for Obama and cried at the thought of him leaving office, white people kept their hatred of Hillary to themselves or lied to pollsters. They want America to be great again, great for them. White nostalgic yearnings are dangerous for Black people, and we must be vigilant. But there may be opportunity in this crisis if we dare to seize it.
Republicans have been the white people’s party for nearly 50 years. Trump just made it more obvious. He didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. We don’t have to be the losers in this election. Let us remember what we have achieved in our history. Half of Black Americans didn’t even have the right to vote in the 1960s yet made earth shattering progress in a short time. But we must understand the source of that progress. It came from struggle and daring to create the crises that always bring about change.
“The dread of redneck celebration should not be our primary motivation right now.”
Black Panther Party led revolutionary movement in 1960’s and 70’s, fighting for self-determination.
Yes white people will strut for president Trump but that doesn’t mean we must submit as if we are in the Jim Crow days of old. We have ourselves to rely on and we can reclaim our history of fighting for self-determination. The dread of redneck celebration should not be our primary motivation right now. Before we quake in fear at white America we must send the scoundrels packing.
The Black politicians and the Democratic National Committee and the civil rights organizations that don’t help the masses must all be kicked to the proverbial curb. The rejection must be complete and blame must be laid squarely at their feet.
Those of us who voted for the Green Party ticket of Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka must stand firmly and proudly for our choice. We must strategize on building a progressive party to replace the Democrats who never help us. We must applaud Julian Assange and Wikileaks for exposing their corruption. There should be no back tracking on the fight to build left wing political power.
“We must strategize on building a progressive party to replace the Democrats who never help us.”
The Black people who didn’t return to the polls shouldn’t be blamed either. Those individuals must have personal introspection that is meaningful and political. Their lack of enthusiasm speaks to Democratic Party and Black misleadership incompetence. We should refrain from personal blame and help one another in this process as we fight for justice and peace.
The end of the duopoly is the first step in liberation. Staying with a party that literally did nothing was a slow and agonizing death. Sometimes shock therapy is needed to improve one’s condition. If we don’t take the necessary steps to free ourselves this election outcome will be a disaster. Instead, why not bring the disaster to the people who made it happen? The destruction of the Democratic Party and creation of a truly progressive political movement is the only hope for Black America.
Video below: Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report speaks at Black is Back Coalition meeting in April, 2016.
(Video above shows Atty. Bryan A. Stevenson, who argued and won Miller v. Alabama case in Supreme Court, which declared JLWOP unconsitutional)
In prison since the age of 16, Kincaid re-sentenced to 30-60 years, recommended for immediate parole by judge
“If given the opportunity for release, I want to help juveniles outside” –Kincaid
“I only wish his mother could have been here to see this”—Aunt Mattie Fudge
By Diane Bukowski
November 8, 2016
(VOD: apologies for quality of photos; IPhone camera flash was off in court, forgot to turn it back on outside court.)
Judge James Callahan
DETROIT—“Ostensibly, this is going to be a wash,” Wayne County Circuit Court Judge James Callahan said as he re-sentenced juvenile lifer Timothy Kincaid to 30-60 years during a hearing Nov. 4.
“According to the probation officer, the surviving victim believes she is still alive through the intercession of Mr. Kincaid, in light of his protective conduct during the shooting. She even visited him while he was housed in the Department of Corrections.”
Judge Callahan noted that pre-sentence report guidelines indicated Kincaid had already served years past the time recommended, and that the probation officer believed Kincaid had been rehabilitated.
“The Judge wanted him released today,” Evelyn told Kincaid’s family and friends afterwards. “But he still has to see the parole board to determine the accuracy of the guidelines, and he also has good time they have to look at.”
Timothy Kincaid and attorney Gerald Evelyn
Evelyn said that although Michigan’s juvenile lifer resentencing statutes ban the use of good time, negotiations are proceeding on that issue in a federal lawsuit, Hill v. Snyder, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. It is currently in front of U.S. District Court Judge John Corbett O’Meara in Ann Arbor, with the next hearing set for Tues. Nov. 17 at 10:15 a.m.
Evelyn said it helped that Kincaid still had a “6500 motion” proceeding before Judge Callahan, which VOD covered (date). Otherwise known as a motion for relief from judgement, a 6500 motion is the last chance to raise and exhaust issues in state court.
“I want to express my remorse to the court, to my family and to the victims,” Kincaid said. “I’ve been locked up 36 years now, and if given the opportunity for release, I would like to help juveniles outside. I was working in preventive programs while I was in prison.”
Timothy Kincaid supporters (l to r) maternal Aunt Mattie Fudge, Greg Kelly, Mike Hudson, Min. Ervin Bell
Kincaid has served 36 years of a juvenile life without parole sentence for the first-degree murders of three women, carried out by two older men in 1976, when Kincaid was 16. He testified at his trial in 1982 that he took the fourth woman into another room and aimed a shotgun at the floor to make the others think he had killed her.
Kincaid’s aunt Mattie Fudge, who attended with her granddaughter Matysha Neeley, was joyful at the outcome, as were three childhood friends of Kincaid’s, Minister Ervin Bell, Greg Kelly and Mike Hudson.
“I’m glad it’s finally over,” Fudge said. “I only wish his mother could have been here to see this.” She said Kincaid now has a grandson.
Odessa Kincaid with her sons Timothy and Waymon Kincaid. Photo: Obituary
Kincaid’s mother Odessa Kincaid passed away in 2011, before either of her sons finally saw release from Michigan’s increasingly restrictive prison system. She and her daughter Vivian Kincaid campaigned both against juvenile life without parole and former Governor John Engler’s changes to the status of “parolable lifers.”
Waymon Kincaid was 19 in 1975 when he was sentenced to parolable life for second-degree murder. He was a plaintiff in a federal class action lawsuit filed by U of M’s Clinical Law program in April, 2005 on behalf of Kincaid, John Alexander, Kenneth Foster-Bey, William Sleeper, Robert Weisenauer, Eric McCollum, Gerald Lee Hessel and over 800 other “parolable lifers” in Michigan’s system.
Sister Vivian Kincaid Facebook
Prior to Engler’s term, judges sentenced defendants to “parolable life,” intending that if they showed evidence of rehabilitation, they could be released starting from 10 to 15 years after sentencing. Engler converted the civil service parole board into a board appointed by the governor.
One of the new parole board’s declarations was that “life means life.” It began keeping “parolable lifers” indefinitely, causing skyrocketing costs to the state’s prison budget.
The lawsuit did not ultimately succeed. However, Waymon Kincaid reportedly has finally been paroled subsequent to a Sept. 1 hearing, and John Alexander’s case is set for parole board consideration Nov. 14. The other named plaintiffs were all paroled far beyond the terms their judges intended.
Jeremaine Tilmon, stepfather of Davontae Sanford, found murdered on Detroit’s east side Nov. 2
Great joy of Sanford’s release turns into great sorrow for his mother, Taminko Sanford-Tilmon, family and youth he mentored
Tilmon worked tirelessly to stop gang violence in his community
Police investigating–still many questions
By Diane Bukowski, Editor Voice of Detroit
November 3, 2016
Jeremaine Tilmon, at back, stands with Davontae, his beloved wife Taminko Sanford-Tilmon, Pastor W.J. RIdeout, and at side, former Channel 7 news reporter Bill Proctor at press conference June 9 after Davontae’s release. Proctor reported from the beginning on Davontae’s innocence.
DETROIT — The staff of Voice of Detroit expresses our absolute shock, grief and condolences to the family and world-wide circle of supporters of Davontae Sanford, regarding the brutal execution-style murder of his stepfather Jeremaine Tilmon yesterday, Nov. 2, 2016.
Prayers outside Frank Murphy Hall for Davontae’s release in 2012. Jermaine Tilmon is at center.
Channel Two news reported, “According to Detroit Police, Jeremaine Tilmon was killed in the 3600 block of Chatsworth on Detroit’s east side Thursday morning around 2:30,” and more as in video above.
Jeremaine Tilmon was a Rock of Gibraltar for the family all through Davontae’s nine-year ordeal, present at all rallies, press conferences, court hearings, prayer breakfasts and other events. At a candlelight vigil Nov. 3, youth from East English Village Academy mourned the loss of this stalwart man who guided them away from the violence of the streets.
Tilmon married the love of his life Taminko Sanford before Davontae was finally freed June 8, 2016, after the 14-year-old child spent nine years since the age of 14 in Michigan’s prison system, for crimes he did not commit.
Jeremaine Tilmon stands at right holding his wife-to-be Taminko Sanford-Tilmon and grandnephew as family gathered at Appeals Court in support of Davontae Sanford. The Court of Appeals issued a resounding victory in the case.
Mr. Tilmon was outspoken in support of Davontae throughout all the events. He also headed a choral group that sang at a prayer breakfast for Davontae last February and was reportedly a school counselor.
Jeremaine Tilmon with his stepdaughters during rally April 23, 2012.
Voice of Detroit interviewed him numerous times, and has photos and videos of him beginning from the early years of the battle for Davontae’s release, which are published here.
Hitman Vincent Smothers confessed to the murders of the four people in an alleged drug house in 2007 blamed on Davontae, shortly after the child was sentenced by Judge Brian Sullivan.
Despite that, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy and Circuit Court Judge Brian Sullivan refused to relent in their persecution of this child until broad support for his cause forced them to back off. However, both Kym Worthy’s press conference on Davontae’s release, the joint motion to dismiss without prejudice (meaning charges can be brought back) by Worthy and SADO attorney Valerie Newman, and Judge Sullivan’s court order granting that motion painted a negative picture of Davontae as Worthy sought to salvage her reputation.
Taminko Sanford and Jermaine Tilmon are married in a fairytale wedding.
Sullivan did the same, defending his years-long trial of Davontae despite clear evidence of a child’s false confession, and even questioning the validity of Vincent Smothers’ confession. Worthy and Sullivan left open to question whether Davontae was actually innocent and leaving him open to possible repercussions from others.
At Davontae’s press conference June 9, a cordon of Detroit police officers including Gang Squad members hovered outside, allegedly to protect the family because it had received threats from the Runyon Street victims’ families. Police continued to escort Davontae on his speaking engagements afterwards.
Where were they when a vicious gunman shot Davontae’s beloved stepfather down to the ground and then pumped more bullets into him? Who executed Jeremaine Tilmon and why? Will the DPD truly investigate this case or will there be another cover-up?
Jeremaine Tilmon stands protectively over his family at back, at press conference called by Innocence Clinics, who filed the Motion for Relief from Judgment in April, 2015 that finally got Davontae freed.
The Michigan State Police report and other sources showed that Worthy and the Detroit Police knew Davontae was not guilty almost from the beginning, as indicated in the list of stories below. Eyewitnesses at the scene of the Runyon Street killings, including a woman inside the house, identified a man taller and older than Davontae.
Jeremaine Tilmon is at center with choral group at prayer breakfast for Davontae held in February, 2016.
We’re just too heartsick to continue right now, but are publishing the photos we have of that loving family, so filled with joy at Davontae’s release, and now so overwhelmed with grief, as well as links to VOD’s stories on Davontae and his family.
We will continue to follow events in Jermaine’s killing as they develop.
Below: Jeremaine Tilmon speaks in video about his stepson, Aiyana Jones, and Trayvon Martin, by VOD videographer Kenny Snodgress.
Lewis motion: rulings vacating convictions where partial court files were lost or corrupted must be applied in his case, where entire record is missing
APA Jason Williams wants life without parole; “defense” atty. Valerie Newman wants 40-60 years, under juvenile lifer statutes
Judge Lillard, Gov. Rick Snyder appointed, celebrates his new appointee to 3rd Circuit Court; Mich. has strongly opposed JLWOP changes
Angry family demands Lewis’ release, condemns Newman’s stance
Court Register of Actions shows next Lewis hearing set for Nov. 23, 2016
Next Detroit juvenile lifer hearings for Timothy Kincaid Nov. 4, Edward Sanders and David Walton Nov. 29
Hearing on ACLU motion in Hill v. Snyder challenging state statutes Nov. 17
By Diane Bukowski
October 31, 2016
Updated Nov. 7, 2016
DETROIT – Should Charles Lewis, 58, in prison for 41 years, have his conviction and sentence of life without parole vacated due to the loss of his entire official court file, as he has asked in his court motion, which cites U.S. Supreme Court and Michigan court precedents with that outcome?
The motion also says Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Edward Ewell was the last judge to actually read Lewis’ file before ruling on Oct. 17, 2012 that he should be re-sentenced. This was before controversial state statutes on re-sentencing were passed in 2014. Lewis contends that any further proceedings should go before Judge Ewell. (Link to motion below story.)
Charles Lewis (l) asks Judge Qiana Lillard (r) to follow the law.
“All these cases have the same remedy—to vacate the sentence,” Lewis told Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Qiana Lillard Oct. 28 regarding the precedents in his motion. “I am asking you as judge to follow established law. You have to evaluate both sides and decide.”
The Detroit News’ Oralandar Brand-Williams reported Nov. 6, “Wayne State University Law School professor Peter Henning, who is also a former federal prosecutor, says a lost file could have serious consequences.
“In the absence of documentation it could make it impossible to impose a life sentence again,” Henning said. “There is no basis to impose it if (the court file) is missing. What is the appropriate sentence? How does the judge make a decision in the dark? The court is really hamstrung on whatever sentence it can impose.”
Rosie Lewis with her son Charles in 1977, shortly after his conviction. He played in a prison band called the “Gospel Cavaliers.”
Or should Lewis be re-sentenced as Asst. Prosecutor Jason Williams and State Appellate Defender’s Office Attorney Valerie Newman contend, under draconic state statutes, concocted in the wake of the USSC’s 2012 Miller v. Alabama ruling that juvenile life without parole is unconstitutional?
The statutes are currently being challenged as unconstitutional in federal court in the ACLU’s Hill v. Snyder case, and negotiations are going forward regarding alterations. The next hearing on that case is November 17 in front of U.S. District Court Judge John Corbett O’Meara.
Lillard said at the conclusion of the Lewis hearing she would issue a ruling within 14 days. She wants to conduct ex parte consultations with Chief Criminal Court Judge Timothy Kenny and Chief Judge Robert Colombo, and meet with Assistant Prosecutor Jason Williams and court-appointed Attorney Valerie Newman, to go over copies of the records they claim to have. She did not indicate that Lewis, himself a party in the case with his own motions on the record, would be present.
“You see what I have here,” Lillard said, holding up a slim file. “I need what you have.”
Lillard signaled to a Deputy Sheriff to remove Lewis from the hearing before discussing those meetings, as can be seen in the video above, where Lewis is missing. He objected because proceedings were continuing. Newman did not object to his removal.
Deputy Sheriff removes Lewis from hearing without cause Oct. 28, before it had concluded.
The Court’s Register of Actions (ROA) now shows a hearing on Lewis’ case will be held Nov. 23 at 9 a.m.
Lillard’s impartiality in this case has been in question because she is an appointee of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. Snyder and other Republican state officials have strongly opposed any changes in laws on juvenile life without parole, as has Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy.
Judge Kenny earlier removed Lillard from the case involving Theodore Wafer’s second-degree murder of Black Detroit teen Renisha McBride due to her ties with members of the Prosecutor’s Office on Facebook.
The State Court Administrator’s Office has not returned a call from VOD asking whether records retained by others than the County Clerk can be considered part of a court file. State law mandates that the County Clerk supervise and protect all court records.
Lewis’ family and friends packed the courtroom, calling afterwards for his immediate release and condemning his court-appointed defense attorney Valerie Newman’s betrayal of his wishes, even calling for her disbarment. His family calls him by his middle name “Lamont.”
(l to r) Mother Rosie Lewis, sister Wendy Lewis, brother Mark Lewis
Lewis along with numerous eyewitnesses, including the partner of Detroit police officer Gerald Swypitowski, have maintained his innocence of killing the officer on July 31, 1976 during two trials held in 1977, the first of which was mysteriously concluded before sending it to the jury. The testimony of his alibi witnesses was never taken. Transcripts of those hearings should be in his missing court file.
Not only is Lewis’ official court file missing, but his computerized Register of Actions has been savaged. It falsely says he was convicted on April 3, 2000 in front of Judge Gershwin Drain and lists only actions after that date. Lewis has been in prison since 1977.
Wayne County Deputy Court Clerk David Baxter had control of files, Register of Actions
Wayne County Deputy Clerk David Baxter testified during the hearing about the loss of the physical court files themselves. Asked earlier by VOD how 23 years of the computerized Register of Actions was also lost, Baxter excused that. He said the Court’s computer system had been converted. VOD, however, has not noted such egregious deletions in numerous other criminal cases.
“A register of actions is a chronological list of events in the life of a case and is required for all cases, except district court civil infractions,” the Michigan State Court Administrator’s Office says in its General Records Retention and Disposal Schedule #16.
“Courts may keep these records permanently, but if they do not want to maintain them and the records still exist on the approval date of this schedule, the records must be transferred to Archives of Michigan. The records may not be destroyed.”
The schedule specifies that transfer to the archives can only take place 50 years after completion of a case. Similarly, according to the State of Michigan’s General Retention Schedule #19, files in capital cases (any crime with a life sentence) must be retained “until final disposition of the case plus 50 years, or the felon dies, whichever is sooner.”
Also testifying was Lisa Denise Peterson of the Clerk’s office, who denied any knowledge of Lewis’ case. Lewis told VOD afterwards, “I talked to her at least 20 times, and my attorneys from Foley & Lardner did so as well. She told me she had the files and records in her hands as we spoke.”
Asst. Prosecutor Jason Williams and supervisor appear to have a chortle over the matter.
Assistant Prosecutor Jason Williams and Attorney Valerie Newman of the State Appellate Defenders Office, Lewis’ court-appointed defense attorney, both argued for Lewis’ re-sentencing under the contested juvenile lifer state statutes, against his wishes.
Williams wants to keep Lewis in prison until death, while Newman said she wants a term of 40-60 years, despite Lewis’ age and poor health.
Both said they have some portions of Lewis’ court files.
Williams is proceeding on the original motion filed by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy July 21, which says only, “Defendant’s crime in the current case was not the result of unfortunate yet transient immaturity, but, rather, evinced irreparable corruption that requires a Life without Parole sentence.”
It gives no specifics regarding the alleged “irreparable corruption.” Worthy has also asked that 62 other Wayne County juvenile lifers die in prison, the highest actual number in the state. Ninety-eight percent of the county’s 147 juvenile lifers are Black.
The U.S. Supreme Court said in Miller and Montgomery that “only the rarest” juvenile should be sentenced to die in prison.
“Regarding case law on missing transcripts or records, there is no authority that I am aware of,” Williams said during the hearing. “Miller factors concern the offense and I do have transcripts of Mr. Lewis’ trial in this case that resulted in conviction, the original Detroit Police Department homicide file, and Mr. Lewis’ institutional record from the Michigan Department of Corrections. Any pleadings subsequent to conviction are not an appropriate consideration.”
Atty. Gerald Evelyn defended Lewis in Pearson hearing in 1981.
However, a relevant Pearson evidentiary hearing was held on Lewis’ case Jan. 16-20, 1981, with representation by defense attorney Gerald Evelyn.
Five additional Detroit police officers at the scene after the killing contradicted the testimony of Detroit officer Lorraine Williams at Lewis’ original trial in 1977. Williams had claimed that the partner of the officer killed was too intoxicated to have identified the real killer, after copying down his license plate number.
At the time, state law held that the prosecution must produce all res gestae witnesses relevant to the charges, whether favorable to the prosecution or the defense, within a certain time limit. Lewis’ Pearson hearing was held long after the limit. He had contended that required dismissal of the case under then existing law.
Lewis has a copy of a court order signed by then Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Gershwin Drain dismissing his case on April 3, 2000, which an MDOC worker gave him ten years after it was issued.
Lewis filed for enactment of the order after he saw it, but Drain denied issuing it in 2012. In a letter rubber-stamped (not signed) with Drain’s name, he claimed that his signature on the order had been forged and also that Lewis had somehow altered court computer records.
There is no way to determine the truth of THAT situation without access to ALL of Lewis’ court files and the complete Register of Actions.
Newman filed a motion almost identical to the one Lewis filed, citing the same three court precedents he used, along with another one from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. In contrast to the remedies applied in those cases, she asked that Lewis be re-sentenced to 40-60 years, under the separate juvenile lifer laws.
After the hearing, Lewis’ uncle Lorenzo told VOD that he overheard Newman ask Lewis why he would ask for another attorney, in what he interpreted as a “threat.” He called for her disbarment. Lewis said he did not think her statement was an actual threat.
Newman announced for the first time that she has possession of FIVE boxes of court files on Lewis’ case, which she said can be used during a “Miller” hearing to re-sentence her unwilling client.
Valerie Newman talks with Charles Lewis, overheard by his uncle Lorenzo.
Where those files came from, whether she has read them, or may even have tampered with them is open to question. Newman said only that three of Lewis’ younger co-defendants testified at his original trial, against him.
She failed to mention the testimony of eyewitnesses including police officer Dennis Van Fletering (Swypitowski’s partner), William Eichman, an employee at Oty’s Saloon outside of which the shooting took place, and of Jay Smith, Gloria Ratachek, Kim Divine and Donald DeMarc, who happened to be on Harper at the scene.
Those witnesses all testified that gunfire from a white Lincoln Mark IV, later determined to be owned by Leslie Nathanial, caused Swypitowski’s death. Several also said they saw no other cars in the narrow width of Harper Avenue at the time. That contradicted the testimony of the juveniles, who claimed they and Lewis drove a yellow Ford Gran Torino to the scene, and Lewis got out of it to rob and kill Swypitowski. The three juveniles were not charged in exchange for their testimony.
1977 Lincoln Continental Mark IV: eyewitnesses testified that gunfire from such a car caused death of Detroit police officer in 1976.
Newman also failed to mention the testimony of police officers Joseph Grayer, Michael Kudle, Andrew Kuklock, Michael Yanklin, and Gerald O’Connor contradicting officer Lorraine Williams’ testimony at the Pearson hearing in 1981.
VOD has copies of those transcripts which were attached to several U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals rulings in Lewis’ case. However, they would not be considered part of the official court file, which is maintained only under the direct supervision of the Wayne County Clerk.
VOD also submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the City of Detroit Law Department Police Division for records of witness interviews and forensic matters Sept. 19, but has not yet received a response.
Lewis told VOD he has given copies of crime scene photos from the trial and the names of his alibi witnesses to Newman, but she has refused to raise them in proceedings.
Still upcoming are re-sentencing hearings on Detroit juvenile lifers Timothy Kincaid this Friday, Nov. 4 at 9 a.m. in front of Judge James Callahan, and on Edward Sanders and David Walton in front of Judge James Chylinski on Tues. Nov. 29 at 9 a.m. Kincaid was 16 at the time of his offense, Sanders and Walton were 17.
U.S. District Court Judge John Corbett O’Meara.
According to the office of U.S. District Court Judge John Corbett O’Meara, a hearing in the Hill v. Snyder case, whose amended plaintiffs’ motion challenges Michigan’s juvenile lifer statutes, has been adjourned until Thurs. Nov. 17 at 10:15 a.m.in Ann Arbor. O’Meara ruled in 2013 that ALL Michigan juvenile lifers are eligible for parole after 10 years.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that ruling, but remanded the case back to O’Meara for the parties to update the motions they filed. The state has taken that opportunity to try to wipe out the entire case including O’Meara’s 2013 ruling, while the ACLU is trying to negotiate changes to the state statutes including the restoration of “good time” in juvenile lifer re-sentencings. The state statutes discriminatorily bar that only for juvenile lifer defendants.
These supporters of Charles Lewis demonstrated for him during his Oct. 11 hearing.
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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