WRONGFUL CONVICTION DAY IN DOWNTOWN DETROIT–AUGUST 20, 2021–FREE THEM ALL!

Voice of Detroit reporters were not able to make this Aug. 20 protest in downtown Detroit, but Paula Wilson sent this excellent video of the event. VOD downloaded it onto Youtube and is re-publishing it here.

Experts who have investigated cases in the Michigan Department of Corrections say they estimate 30 percent of MDOC prisoners were wrongfully convicted, with estimates for Wayne County during the late 1990’s at 80 percent. Michigan has the second highest number of wrongful convictions in the U.S.

VOD editors Diane Bukowski and Ricardo Ferrell have covered or  committed to stories on the following wrongfully incarcerated individuals, who remain in the MDOC as of this date. (VOD has also published stories earlier on exonerated individuals, but they are not included in this post.) 

Those with VOD stories pending in the near future either have posts from their social media sites published here or are listed below.

(20+) Jason Bowers | Facebook

WILSON RIVERA Free-wilson-rivera-blog (freewilsonrivera.com) (20+) Facebook

Petition · Wilson Rivera’s Wrongful Conviction · Change.org

KEITH PORTER:

PAUL DAVIS: Paul Davis Wrongful Conviction Memorandum Lewis Dickstein.pdf

WILLIE MERRIWEATHER: B A N C O: The City of Detroit’s Corrupt Police Force (bhbanco.org)

KENNETH COOPER: story to be published this week.

VOD published stories (where more than one story has been done, the previous stories are linked within the story posted here. Available case documents are also linked in all stories.)

THELONIOUS ‘SHAWN’ SEARCY

MICH. SUPREME COURT NIXES WORTHY’S APPEAL OF STRONG COA RULING IN THELONIOUS SEARCY CASE | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

DARRELL ‘APPLE’ EWING, DERRICO ‘RICO’ SEARCY

DID WAYNE CO. PROS. HIDE KILLER’S CONFESSION TO MSP IN EWING-SEARCY CASE, USE DPD TO STOP RETRIAL? | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

RICKY RIMMER-BEY

MICHIGAN LIFER RICKY RIMMER-BEY: CONVICTED DRUG DEALER COP JAMES HARRIS FRAMED ME FOR MURDER | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

CARL ‘GHOST’ HUBBARD

TIME TO FREE CARL HUBBARD; AP GONZALES JAILED KEY PROS. WITNESS AFTER HE RECANTED AT TRIAL | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

DAVID SHELTON

EXPOSED!! RACIST FRAME-UP OF DAVID SHELTON BY OAKLAND COUNTY IN 1993 RAPE CASE | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

TEMUJIN KENSU

ADVOCATES DENOUNCE GOV. WHITMER’S DENIAL OF CLEMENCY TO INNOCENT MICH. LIFER TEMUJIN KENSU | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

VARGAS AND MARCO JOHNSON

MICH. LIFERS VARGAS & MARCO JOHNSON FIGHT 30-YR. FRAME-UP; CITE INKSTER COP FROM 2 EXONEREES’ CASE | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

EFRÉN PAREDES, JR.

STOP NEW WAVE OF COVID-19 DUE TO DELTA VARIANT IN MICHIGAN PRISONS–FREE EFREN PAREDES JR. | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

GLEN VARY

GLEN VARY FIGHTS 2004 FLINT MURDER CONVICTION INVOLVING POLICE MISCONDUCT, WITNESS COERCION | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

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Voice of Detroit sincerely thanks all who contributed to keep VOD on-line in the last 2 weeks! We have paid the quarterly webhosting fee of $435 as a result and are making renewed headway on other bills.

VOD is a pro bono newspaper, now devoting itself entirely to stories related to our PRISON NATION and POLICE STATE.

VOD’s editors and reporters, most of whom live on fixed incomes or are incarcerated, are not paid for their work. Ongoing costs include quarterly web charges of $435,00, P.O. box fee of $180/yr. and costs for research including court records and internet fees, office supplies, gas, etc.

Please DONATE TO VOD at:

https://www.gofundme.com/donate-to-vod

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END MASS INCARCERATION! NAT’L LIFERS OF AMERICA RALLY LANSING THURS. OCTOBER 14 @ 12-3 PM

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THELONIOUS ‘SHAWN’ SEARCY ON ‘OPEN MIKE,’ AS PROS. DELAYS RELEASE 17 YRS. AFTER WRONGFUL CONVICTION

RELEASE & EXONERATE THELONIOUS SEARCY 

VOICE OF DETROIT HAS COVERED SHAWN SEARCY’S BATTLE AGAINST HIS WRONGFUL CONVICTION SINCE 2017.

THELONIOUS SEARCY is now a Certified Paralegal, after graduating with honors from the Blackstone Career Institute.

All VOD stories linked below include court opinions and extensive coverage of the evidentiary hearing at which the real killer, hitman Vincent Smothers, confessed in great detail to the 2004 murder of Jamal Segars outside Detroit City Airport.

The Court of Appeals vacated Shawn’s  conviction in February, declaring that now Chief Wayne Co. 3rd Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny “abused his discretion” in ruling that Smothers’ confession was not believable. They also exposed the lies told to the jury by Kenny and Asst. Prosecutor Patrick Muscat about the forensics and ballistics evidence, including the caliber of the bullets which killed Segars.

Shawn is currently confined to home on a tether, under an appeal bond granted by Wayne Co. 3rd Circuit Court Judge Thomas Hathaway. There is a huge backlog of cases in that court which is forcing prisoners in Wayne County Jail to wait far beyond the constitutional requirements for a “speedy trial.” Why doesn’t the prosecutor drop the charges against Searcy, instead of spending taxpayers’ money to further clog the court’s docket?

Call Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy at 224-5777 to ask her why she is insisting on a new trial instead of RELEASE AND EXONERATION.

MICH. SUPREME COURT NIXES WORTHY’S APPEAL OF STRONG COA RULING IN THELONIOUS SEARCY CASE | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

THELONIOUS ‘SHAWN’ SEARCY WINS NEW TRIAL; MICH. APPEALS COURT CITES HITMAN’S CONFESSION, BALLISTICS | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

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ATTICA REBELLION 1971, 50 YEARS LATER: PRISON NATION, USA–FREE THEM ALL! BRING OUR LOVED ONES HOME NOW

This Sept. 10, 1971 file photo shows inmates of Attica State Prison as they raise their hands in clenched fist salutes to voice their demands during a negotiating session with New York’s prison Commissioner Russell Oswald. AP File Photo

Demands meant to “Bring closer to reality the demise of these prisons”–L.D. Barkley, a leader of the Attica uprising September 9, 1971, who died with 32 other prisoners Sept. 13, 1971
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 Today marks the 5oth Anniversary of the heroic rebellion at Attica Prison in New York. In the wake of the assassination of Black Panther Party Field Marshal George Jackson at California’s San Quentin Prison Aug. 21, hundreds of incarcerated men rebelled Sept. 9, 1971, took 42 prison guards hostage, and maintained control of the prison for four days. Their rebellion electrified the nation and the world. On Sept. 13, 1971, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller ordered state police to open fire on the men in D Yard, killing 43 people, including ten of the hostages, and 33  inmates.

The demands they fought for are listed here, meant to “bring closer to reality the demise of these prisons, institutions that serve no useful purpose to the People of America but to those who would enslave and exploit the People of America.” — Elliot ‘L.D.’ Barkley,  brutally murdered along with 32 other prisoners in Attica’s D Yard on Sept. 13, 1971 at the direction of NY Governor Nelson Rockefeller.

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The Five Demands

To the People of America:

L. D. Barkley, 2nd from right, and other prisoners present demands to NY prisons commissioner Russell Oswald Sept. 10, 1972

The incident that has erupted here at Attica is not a result of the dastardly bushwhacking of the two prisoners Sept. 8, 1971, but of the unmitigated oppression wrought by the racist administration network of the prison, throughout the year.

WE are MEN! We are not beasts and do not intend to be beaten or driven as such. The entire prison populace has set forth to change forever the ruthless brutalization and disregard for the lives of the prisoners here and throughout the United States. What has happened here is but the sound before the fury of those who are oppressed.

We will not compromise on any terms except those that are agreeable to us. We call upon all the conscientious citizens of America to assist us in putting an end to this situation that threatens not only our lives, but each and every citizen as well.

We have set forth demands that will bring closer to reality the demise of these prisons, institutions that serve no useful purpose to the People of America but to those who would enslave and exploit the People of America.

Our Demands Are Such:

  1. We want complete amnesty, meaning freedom from any physical, mental, and legal reprisals.
  2. We want now, speedy and safe transportation out of confinement, to a non-imperialistic country.
  3. We demand that the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT intervene, so that we will be under direct FEDERAL JURISDICTION.
  4. We demand the reconstruction of ATTICA PRISON to be done by inmates and/or inmate supervision.
  5. We urgently demand immediate negotiation thru Wm. M. Kunstler, Attorney-at-Law, 588 Ninth Ave., NYC, Assemblyman Arthur O. Eve of Buffalo, the Solidarity Committee, Minister Farrakhan of MUHAMMAD SPEAKS, Palante, The Young Lords Party Paper, the Black Panther Party, Clarence Jones of the Amsterdam News, Tom Wicker of NY Times, Richard Roth of the Courier Express, the Fortune Society, David Anderson of the Urban League of Rochester, Blond-Eva Bond of NICAP, and Jim Ingram of Democrat Chronicle of Detroit, Michigan. We guarantee the safe passage of all people to and from this institution. We invite all the people to come here and witness this degradation, so that they can better know how to bring this degradation to an end. — THE INMATES OF ATTICA PRISON

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THE 15 PRACTICAL PROPOSALS

  1. Apply the New York State minimum wage law to all state institutions. STOP SLAVE LABOR.
  2. Allow all New York State prisoners to be politically active, without intimidation or reprisals.
  3. Give us true religious freedom.
  4. End all censorship of newspapers, magazines, letters, and other publications coming from the publisher.
  5. Allow all inmates, at their own expense, to communicate with anyone they please.
  6. When an inmate reaches conditional release date, give him a full release without parole.
  7. Cease administrative resentencing of inmates returned for parole violations.
  8. Institute realistic rehabilitation programs for all inmates according to their offense and personal needs.
  9. Educate all correctional officers to the needs of the inmates, i.e., understanding rather than punishment.
  10. Give us a healthy diet, stop feeding us so much pork, and give us some fresh fruit daily.
  11. Modernize the inmate education system.
  12. Give us a doctor that will examine and treat all inmates that request treatment.
  13. Have an institutional delegation comprised of one inmate from each company authorized to speak to the institution administration concerning grievances (QUARTERLY).
  14. Give us less cell time and more recreation with better recreational equipment and facilities.
  15. Remove inside walls, making one open yard, and no more segregation or punishment.

ATTICA PRISON LIBERATION FACTION, MANIFESTO OF DEMANDS, 1971

“[I]nspired by events at Folsom … the demands were made following several thousand inmates seizing control of the prison in protest against the usual issues of, overcrowding, racism, and brutality from prison staff.”

We, the men of Attica Prison, have been committed to the New York State Department of Corrections by the people of society for the purpose of correcting what has been deemed as social errors in behavior. Errors which have classified us as socially unacceptable until reprogrammed with new values and more thorough understanding as to our values and responsibilities as members of the outside community. The Attica Prison program in its structure and conditions have been enslaved on the pages of this Manifesto of Demands with the blood, sweat, and tears of the inmates of this prison.

The program which we are submitted to under the façade of rehabilitation are relative to the ancient stupidity of pouring water on a drowning man, inasmuch as we are treated for our hostilities by our program administrators with their hostility as medication.

In our efforts to comprehend on a feeling level an existence contrary to violence, we are confronted by our captors with what is fair and just, we are victimized by the exploitation and the denial of the celebrated due process of law.

In our peaceful efforts to assemble in dissent as provided under this nation’s U.S. Constitution, we are in turn murdered, brutalized, and framed on various criminal charges because we seek the rights and privileges of all American People.

In our efforts to intellectually expand in keeping with the outside world, through all categories of news media, we are systematically restricted and punitively remanded to isolation status when we insist on our human rights to the wisdom of awareness.

MANIFESTO OF DEMANDS

  1. We Demand the constitutional rights of legal representation at the time of all parole board hearings and the protection from the procedures of the parole authorities whereby they permit no procedural safeguards such as an attorney for cross-examination of witnesses, witnesses in behalf of the parolee, at parole revocation hearings.
  2. We Demand a change in medical staff and medical policy and procedure. The Attica Prison hospital is totally inadequate, understaffed, and prejudiced in the treatment of inmates. There are numerous “mistakes” made many times; improper and erroneous medication is given by untrained personnel. We also demand periodical check-ups on all prisoners and sufficient licensed practitioners 24 hours a day instead of inmates’ help that is used now.
  3. We Demand adequate visiting conditions and facilities for the inmate and families of Attica prisoners. The visiting facilities at the prison are such as to preclude adequate visiting for inmates and their families.
  4. We Demand an end to the segregation of prisoners from the mainline population because of their political beliefs. Some of the men in segregation units are confined there solely for political reasons and their segregation from other inmates is indefinite.
  5. We Demand an end to the persecution and punishment of prisoners who practice the Constitutional Right of peaceful dissent. Prisoners at Attica and other New York prisons cannot be compelled to work as these prisons were built for the purpose of housing prisoners and there is no mention as to the prisoners being required to work on prison jobs in order to remain in the mainline population and/or be considered for release. Many prisoners believe their labor power is being exploited in order for the state to increase its economic power and to continue to expand its correctional industries (which are million-dollar complexes), yet do not develop working skills acceptable for employment in the outside society, and which do not pay the prisoner more than an average of forty cents a day. Most prisoners never make more than fifty cents a day. Prisoners who refuse to work for the outrageous scale, or who strike, are punished and segregated without the access to the privileges shared by those who work; this is class legislation, class division, and creates hostilities within the prison.
  6. Prisoners at MDOC’s Jackson CF organized a Prisoners Labor Union in the wake of the Attica Rebellion.

    We Demand an end to political persecution, racial persecution, and the denial of prisoner’s rights to subscribe to political papers, books, or any other educational and current media chronicles that are forwarded through the U.S. Mail.

  7. We Demand that industries be allowed to enter the institutions and employ inmates to work eight hours a day and fit into the category of workers for scale wages. The working conditions in prisons do not develop working incentives parallel to the many jobs in the outside society, and a paroled prisoner faces many contradictions of the job that add to his difficulty in adjusting. Those industries outside who desire to enter prisons should be allowed to enter for the purpose of employment placement.
  8. We Demand that inmates be granted the right to join or form labor unions.
  9. We Demand that inmates be granted the right to support their own families; at present, thousands of welfare recipients have to divide their checks to support their imprisoned relatives, who without outside support, cannot even buy toilet articles or food. Men working on scale wages could support themselves and families while in prison.
  10. We Demand that correctional officers be prosecuted as a matter of law for any act of cruel and unusual punishment where it is not a matter of life and death.
  11. We Demand that all institutions using inmate labor be made to conform with the state and federal minimum wage laws.
  12. We Demand an end to the escalating practice of physical brutality being perpetrated upon the inmates of New York State prisons.
  13. We Demand the appointment of three lawyers from the New York State Bar Association to full-time positions for the provision of legal assistance to inmates seeking post-conviction relief, and to act as a liaison between the administration and inmates for bringing inmates’ complaints to the attention of the administration.
  14. We Demand the updating of industry working conditions to the standards provided for under New York State law.
  15. We Demand the establishment of inmate worker’s insurance plan to provide compensation for work-related accidents.
  16. We Demand the establishment of unionized vocational training programs comparable to that of the Federal Prison System which provides for union instructions, union pay scales, and union membership upon completion of the vocational training course.
  17. Parole hearing

    We Demand annual accounting of the inmates Recreational Fund and formulation of an inmate committee to give inmates a voice as to how such funds are used.

  18. We Demand that the present Parole Board appointed by the Governor be eradicated and replaced by the parole board elected by popular vote of the people. In a world where many crimes are punished by indeterminate sentences and where authority acts within secrecy and within vast discretion and given heavy weight to accusations by prison employees against inmates, inmates feel trapped unless they are willing to abandon their desire to be independent men.
  19. We Demand that the state legislature create a full-time salaried board of overseers for the State Prisons. The board would be responsible for evaluating allegations made by inmates, their families, friends and lawyers against employers charged with acting inhumanely, illegally or unreasonably. The board should include people nominated by a psychological or psychiatric association, by the State Bar Association or by the Civil Liberties Union and by groups of concerned involved laymen.
  20. We Demand an immediate end to the agitation of race relations by the prison administration of this State.
  21. We Demand that the Dept. of Corrections furnish all prisoners with the services of ethnic counsellors for the needed special services of the Brown and Black population of this prison.
  22. We Demand an end to the discrimination in the judgment and quota of parole for Black and Brown people.
  23. We Demand that all prisoners be present at the time their cells and property are being searched by the correctional officers of state prisons.
  24. We Demand an end to the discrimination against prisoners when they appear before the Parole Board. Most prisoners are denied parole solely because of their prior records. Life sentences should not confine a man longer than 10 years as 7 years is the considered statute for a lifetime out of circulation, and if a man cannot be rehabilitated after a maximum of ten years of constructive programs, etc., then he belongs in a mental hygiene center, not a prison.
  25. We Demand that better food be served to the inmates. The food is a gastronomical disaster. We also demand that drinking water be put on each table and that each inmate be allowed to take as much food as he wants and as much bread as he wants, instead of the severely limited portions and limited (4) slices of bread. Inmates wishing a pork-free diet should have one, since 85% of our diet is pork meat or pork-saturated food.
  26. We Demand an end to the unsanitary conditions that exist in the mess hall: i.e., dirty trays, dirty utensils, stained drinking cups and an end to the practice of putting food on the table’s hours before eating time without any protective covering over it.
  27. We Demand that there be one set of rules governing all prisons in this state instead of the present system where each warden makes rules for his institution as he sees fit.

State troopers prepare to re-take Attica Prison.

IN CONCLUSION

We are firm in our resolve and we demand, as human beings, the dignity and justice that is due to us by our right of birth. We do not know how the present system of brutality and dehumanization and injustice has been allowed to be perpetrated in this day of enlightenment, but we are the living proof of its existence and we cannot allow it to continue.

The taxpayers who just happen to be our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters and sons should be made aware of how their tax dollars are being spent to deny their sons, brothers, fathers and uncles of justice, equality and dignity.

 

 

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EMERGENCY ALERT! VOICE OF DETROIT NEEDS FUNDS NOW TO KEEP FIGHTING FOR PRISONERS’ FREEDOM!

Publisher Expiration Notice: $431.97 due Sept. 19

APPEAL to families and friends of prisoners, especially those whose cases we are covering–please chip in–any amount is appreciated!

VOD tells the WHOLE story about prisons and police–mainstream media has endorsed the politicians who continue policies of mass incarceration

WE NEED YOUR HELP TO KEEP PUBLISHING!

SEPTEMBER 7, 2021

EDITOR:  The Voice of Detroit has been publishing without interruption since August, 2010, due to the efforts of its editor Diane Bukowski, field editor Ricardo Ferrell, legal advisor, and several others, all of whom are unpaid and live either on limited fixed incomes or are incarcerated. Since earlier this year, VOD has been devoted exclusively to stories about this PRISON NATION and POLICE STATE.

Most stories are about prisoners from Detroit and Michigan who were wrongly convicted, sentenced as juveniles, or serving lengthy and natural life terms in the only country in the world that actually sends people to die in prison.  Since the historic June 4 rally against wrongful convictions outside Frank Murphy Hall, many families have been contacting VOD seeking stories about their loved ones inside the walls. We are keeping a list of stories to be done in the near future, and are committed to following up.

Children from family of Tamerra Washington at rally June 4, 2021

VOD TELLS THE WHOLE STORY, IN DETAIL, ABOUT THESE CASES, unlike the mainstream media, which will not confront the politicians responsible for mass incarceration. We have no corporate funding, and count solely on our own incomes and donations. Our sole motivation is the passion we feel about bringing our brothers and sisters home!!

The chief writers of these stories are Diane Bukowski and Ricardo Ferrell, who interview everyone involved, then research the cases on court websites, newspaper articles, and other on-line sources. Court hearings are covered as needed, and photographs and videos of events like the June 4 rally are taken. The editor then lays out the stories, including links to court documents and previous related VOD stories.

BUT WE NEED YOU to KEEP Voice of Detroit going!!

DONATE NOW TO VOD at:

https://www.gofundme.com/donate-to-vod.

Other donation devices are also used, including CASH APP (call editor Diane Bukowski at 313-825-6126 or email diane_bukowski@hotmail.com for details.) We are grateful for any amount you can give!

 RELATED:

DETROIT: FAMILIES OF WRONGFULLY CONVICTED TELL PROS. KYM WORTHY, POLICE, JUDGES–‘FREE THEM ALL’ | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

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DID WAYNE CO. PROS. HIDE KILLER’S CONFESSION TO MSP IN EWING-SEARCY CASE, USE DPD TO STOP RETRIAL?

Atty. Lillian Diallo celebrated with families of Derrico Searcy, Darrell Ewing after they won new trial Oct. 25, 2019. Ewing’s mother LaSonya Dodson at rear, center. Wayne Co. Pros. Kym Worthy vainly appealed ruling to higher courts. VOD photo.

“A DARK DAY FOR THE PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE” — Oakland Co. Prosecutor Karen McDonald on Aug. 30 denounced police, prosecutor  misconduct that led to wrongful conviction of Juwan Deering 2o years ago

On DARK DAY for Wayne Co. Pros., Darrell Ewing, Derrico Searcy attys. tell judge that Wayne Co. AP’s Kam Towns, Jon Wojtala did not disclose 2017 murder confession by real killer, recruited Detroit police to derail new trial

“Nothing more exculpatory than a man confessing to a homicide with Miranda warnings.  .  .” Blase Kearney, Searcy attorney

Kam Towns “hit on all [the jury’s] terrors and fears dealing with Black men and gangs.” Lillian Diallo, Ewing attorney

Judge Williams-Clayborne sets next hearing date Wed. Oct. 27 after filing of motions and rebuttals re: Brady violations, prosecutorial misconduct

Screenshot of Aug. 30 hearing: Darrell Ewing and atty. Lillian Diallo (top r); atty. Blase Kearney and client Derrico Searcy (bottom r); AP Kam Towns (bottom l).

By Diane Bukowski 

September 1, 2021

Juwan Deering (l) during sentencing in 2000; he said he was  innocent of arson fire that killed 5 children. Oakland Co. Pros. Karen McDonald (r) agreed Aug. 30, 2021, 20 yrs. later.

DETROIT—“A dark day for the Prosecutor’s office,” Oakland County, Prosecutor Karen McDonald said as she announced the likely exoneration of Royal Oak Township resident Juwan Deering Aug. 30, citing extensive prosecutorial and police misconduct. A similar bombshell dropped in a Wayne County courtroom, in the case of Darrell Ewing and Derrico Searcy.

During a hearing on the same “dark day” in front of Wayne Co. Third Circuit Court Judge Darnella Williams-Claybourne, defense attorneys Blase Kearney and Lillian Diallo angrily denounced the alleged failure of Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s office to timely disclose Tyree Washington’ s detailed confession to the 2009 murder of J.B. Watson, given to the Michigan State Police in 2017. Ewing and Searcy have been incarcerated since 2010 in the case.

Top: Darrell Ewing (l), Derrico Searcy (r); bottom: WCP Kym Worthy on NBC National News Aug. 4; Worthy said she is re-trying the 2 men on the same evidence used in their 2010 trial.

Kearney and Diallo said they will be filing motions alleging violations of the 1963 Brady v. Maryland U.S. Supreme Court ruling that requires disclosure of exculpatory evidence to the defense, and alleging prosecutorial misconduct.

“Tyree Washington wrote a letter to the MSP in December, 2016, saying I committed these murders, the wrong men are in jail,” Searcy’s attorney Blase Kearney said. “The MSP sent a detective to interview him in Feb. 2017.  He engaged in a Mirandized interview where he acknowledged that he was taking legal responsibility and his statements could be used against him in court. And he gave a full confession—motive, means, opportunity, details. This while my client and his co-defendant were pursuing a new trial based on jury misconduct related to evidence that Tyree Washington committed the homicide.”

Wayne Co. AP’s Kam Towns (l), Jon Wojtala (r).

The confession came to light when Asst. Prosecutor Kam Towns provided discovery to the defense last week, after trying unsuccessfully for four months to get the contents sealed pending re-trial. She cited the city’s danger of civil liability for the request.  

Transcripts show that Washington’s attorney gave Towns his client’s sworn confession to the murder during the Ewing-Searcy trial, but Washington was not allowed to testify. Instead, the FBI presented federal informant Christopher Richardson, a cousin of the man driving the van carrying Watson when he was killed, who gave hearsay testimony.

During the Aug. 30 hearing, Towns contended that was sufficient, because that “thread of information was brought in front of the original jury.”

“It is not an excuse,” Kearney said. “It does not excuse a Brady obligation to say we have a theory as to why that confession isn’t true . . . you could not call anything more exculpatory than a man confessing to a homicide with Miranda warnings.  .  . Further, it appears that [Worthy’s head of appeals] Jon Wojtala asked the Detroit police to engage in an investigation of the [trial] jurors to stop these men from getting a new trial.”

Judge Michael Hathaway (l), Juror Kathleen Byrnes

WCCC Judge Michael Hathaway granted Ewing and Searcy a new trial in October, 2019, after listening to impassioned testimony from juror Kathleen Byrnes, who said she was pressured by other jurors to change her not-guilty vote. The jurors illegally used social media to elaborate on Towns’ theory that Washington was taking the fall for Ewing because he occupied an inferior position in the “gang” which Towns contended was involved. 

Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy unsuccessfully appealed Hathaway’s ruling to the Michigan Appeals and Supreme Courts, as she had appealed multiple state and federal rulings in the defendants’ favor earlier.

Attys. Blase Kearney, Neighborhood Defender Service (l), Lillian Diallo, Legal Warriors, PLLC (r).

“Michigan ranks second in the country for wrongful convictions,” Ewing’s attorney Lillian Diallo said. “Most come from Wayne County and they are disproportionately Black men. Mr. Ewing actually took a polygraph and passed it. . . . You would think that maybe, when the federal government tells you may have the wrong people, and you couple that with the Tyree Washington information — at the end of the day not only am I  disappointed, but disgusted.”

Darrell Ewing polygraph exam, 2010.

Diallo said Towns’ presentation to the trial jury “rationalized and empathized and hit on all their terrors and their fears dealing with Black men, when you say this is part of a gang and this person, without having to show anything, confessed because of that.  Tyree Washington is not getting anything–all he will get is a life sentence. The Prosecutor has to do more than just stand here and facilitate convictions, they must do justice.”

She said the case should go to Worthy’s Conviction Integrity Unit to be dismissed.

Towns objected to Diallo’s remarks, saying attorneys should confine their statements to legal matters only.

Attys. Kearney and Diallo said they will file detailed motions alleging  Brady violations and seeking charges of prosecutorial misconduct. Kearney said matters involving Brady will likely require evidentiary hearings involving multiple witnesses including prior counsel for Ewing and Searcy.

Private investigator Scott Lewis interviewed Tyree Washington for the defense Aug. 1, 2017, in a broadly reported audio confession (below). But Kearney and Diallo allege that the Wayne Co. Prosecutor already had Washington’s confession to the Michigan State Police, given in Feb. 2017. Legal experts say his Mirandized confession to the Michigan State Police in 2017 carries substantially more weight at trial.

Judge Williams-Clayborne set the next pre-trial hearing on the case for Wed. October 27, asking the defense to submit their motions and other matters by Oct. 13, with the prosecutor to respond by Oct. 20. AP Towns said the Prosecutor’s office may require additional time to respond to defense motions.

During Pros. Karen McDonald’s press conference on the likely exoneration of Juwan Deering Aug. 30, she cited a report from Special Prosecutor Beth Greenberg Morrow which detailed multiple Brady violations by the previous prosecutor’s office under Jessica Cooper, and by local police officers. (See video of press conference above, also http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/PR-08.31.21-press-release-OCP-Deering.pdf.)

Children who died in fire that Juwan Deering was falsely accused of setting.

“What the Special Prosecutor found is extremely troubling,” McDonald said in a release.

“There was important information in our files and the investigation files that was not given to Mr. Deering’s attorney.”  The release said that information included part two of  a videotaped interview of one of the children who survived the fire, who told police he did NOT see Juwan Deering setting the fire.

“As prosecutors, we have an ethical obligation to turn over all of the evidence regardless of whether it is exculpatory or inculpatory,” McDonald said. “We have to do the right thing, even if it hurts our case. That didn’t happen here.”

Michigan AG Dana Nessel

McDonald said sadly, “My office contacted the parents of the children who died and told them what we found, and what it meant. They have lived with the tragedy for two decades, and I can’t imagine the pain of having to relive it again and again.”

During comments at the press conference, McDonald named officials involved, including one who has now been suspended from his subsequent duties at the Michigan State Attorney General’s Office. She told reporters that investigations would be ongoing to see if the players in the Deering case committed similar offenses in other Oakland County cases.

VOD contacted Wayne Co. Prosecutor Worthy’s office earlier this year to inquire whether they were investigating AP Patrick Muscat’s role in the acknowledged wrongful convictions of Kenneth Nixon and Davontae Sanford, and the conviction of Thelonious Searcy. In Searcy’s case, a state appeals court denounced the conduct of the prosecutor and of the trial judge Timothy Kenny, citing “abuse of discretion” on Kenny’s part. 

The prosecutor’s office has since told VOD that all AP’s involved in its 29 cases of  exoneration were reviewed, and that no prosecutorial misconduct had been found. Last week, AP Mahmoud Awad, head of the WCPO FOIA unit, denied a request under FOIA and Brady for information on INDIVIDUAL records in its possession related to DPD officers Lance Newman, Anthony Jackson, and Michael Carpenter, because the officers are not on the current WCPO Giglio-Brady list, and the office is not required to compile additional lists. 

The City of Detroit Law Department earlier told VOD that all Brady requests should go to the WCPO because the Law Department does not keep such records, despite the fact that the Law Department represents nearly all City of Detroit officers sued for misconduct. 

VOD’s legal advisor is looking into the contentions made by both the WCPO and the City of Detroit, and VOD will publish his analysis here at a later time.

Related:

The cases of Ewing and Searcy have been featured on various national wrongful conviction websites, including a series of six episodes in which legal criminal conviction experts have reviewed the Ewing-Searcy case and found it woefully wanting in evidence to convict.

Darrell Ewing | Actual Innocent Prisoners

Rico Searcy | Actual Innocent Prisoners

Undisclosed Podcast (undisclosed-podcast.com)

https://www.unjustandunsolved.com/post/episode-8-darrell-ewing

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MARCH/WHEEL FOR ARMANI SHARPE VS. RACIST CHARGES MON. AUGUST 23 4:30 PM, HAZEL PK. & FERNDALE

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GLEN VARY FIGHTS 2004 FLINT MURDER CONVICTION INVOLVING POLICE MISCONDUCT, WITNESS COERCION

Glen Vary’s co-defendant Frederick Relerford swears accomplice was Julius McElroy, not Vary

Flint police found gun used to kill victim Robert Montgomery in McElroy’s pocket after he was killed by his girl friend 

Ricardo Ferrell

Flint police misconduct?  Flint Police Sgt. Shawn Ellis prompted 2 other witnesses to ID Vary, known as ‘Bay Bay’  based on third party hearsay

Witness later met Vary, said he “knew that the wrong person had been locked up for shooting DJ.”

Jury ignored alibi witnesses; study says this happens more frequently in cases of Black defendants

By Ricardo Ferrell, VOD Field Editor 

With Diane Bukowski, VOD Editor

Glen Vary (MDOC photo)

DETROIT — Flint native Glen Vary, now 37, has been serving a life without parole sentence for 17 years since his conviction for the 2003 murder of Robert “DJ” Montgomery and the wounding of Darwin McMullen outside a house in Flint.

Vary’s co-defendant Frederick Relerford, and three other witnesses have testified or executed sworn affidavits over the years stating that he was definitely not involved in the Montgomery killing.

During Vary’s trial, victim McMullen testified that his identification of Vary in a photo line-up was prompted by Flint Police Sgt. Shawn Ellis, the officer in charge of the case. He said Ellis told him that a third party known only as “Alex” told police Vary was involved.

Witness Cawon Lyles said Ellis similarly told him Vary (known as ‘Bay Bay’) was the killer. But after later meeting Vary at the prison where both were incarcerated, he said it was definitely not him.

Judge F. Kay Behm

After Vary’s second motion for relief from judgment, Genesee County Circuit Court trial Judith Anne Fullerton set an evidentiary hearing for Dec. 17, 2017  to hear testimony from witness Cowan Lyles and others corroborating his claim of innocence.

But that hearing has been postponed over and over again, first pending a hearing on federal charges against Lyles, then due to the transfer of his case to a second and then a third judge, as well as scheduling conflicts. No new date for a hearing in front of Genesee County Circuit Court Judge F. Kay Behm has yet been set.

Vary’s case was sent to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s Conviction Integrity Unit, but Vary says they told him to wait until after the long-delayed evidentiary hearing is held. The AG’s press representative told VOD, “We can confirm that we received an application, but cannot comment on an open file. It should be noted that Mr. Vary has counsel.”

Atty. Phillip Comorski with client Michael Powels during 2019 court hearing where Powels was exonerated.

VOD called Vary’s attorney Phillip Comorski, but had not heard back from him by press time.

Comorski emphatically presented his client’s case in a federal habeas proceeding in 2010, saying that there was no real evidence at trial implicating Vary.

“The victim who survived the shooting (the driver, Darwin McMullen) testified that when he spoke to Sgt. Ellis during the ongoing investigation, he informed him that he “heard” from other third parties (namely an individual named Alex) that Petitioner was one of the persons involved in the incident (T, Vol II, pp 108-111; 119; 143-144). It was then that he was able to “identify” Petitioner from a photograph, because he did not even know Petitioner or the other defendant, and was supplied the information concerning their complicity from third parties (T, Vol II, pp 143-145). This is hardly identification testimony that is “merely flawed”; rather, the evidence presented at trial clearly demonstrates that the identification of Petitioner (the only real evidence that implicated him in the crime) was generated by hearsay and rumor information supplied by third parties.” See http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Glen-VARY_REPLY-TO-AUSA-RESPONSE-6-4-10-2.pdf.

Exonerees Justly Johnson (l) and Kendrick Scott (r) with PI Scott Lewis at Proving Innocence conference in 2019.

Private Investigator and former TV news reporter Scott Lewis was hired in 2014 to investigate Vary’s case and has done extensive work on it. Lewis told VOD, “I don’t know why this case is still languishing in court. It sure does seem like a pretty strong case of actual innocence.”

Lewis took a sworn affidavit  from Vary’s co-defendant, Frederick Relerford, who is also serving life without parole, in 2019. Relerford said his accomplice at the crime scene was Julius McElroy, now deceased. He said Vary had nothing to do with the crime and that he didn’t even know him then.

Previously, Vary said in his motion for habeas relief, he had planned to have Relerford testify at his sentencing hearing in 2004, but Relerford was not called to do so. In his 2010 brief, Comorski attributed that to the “ineffective assistance” of Vary’s trial counsel.

http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Frederick-Relerford-Affidavit-2.pdf

In his report, Lewis said, “The investigator learned through court records that a man named Julius McElroy, who was shot and killed by his girlfriend in Flint in 2004, had the murder weapon from the Glen Vary case in his pocket when authorities arrived at the scene. Also, in a court proceeding, McElroy’s girlfriend, Nikki Minor, testified that McElroy had this weapon in his possession from November of 2002, before the murder.”

Julius McElroy in Flint PD photo obtained by Scott Lewis.

In his affidavit, Relerford explained that he and McElroy were first approached by a man looking to buy marijuana on Dec. 18, 2003, but McElroy pulled out a gun after the potential customer pulled out “a few dollars,” robbed the man and took his phone. He says they walked away to Mt. Elliott Street, and that McElroy approached a car with two men in it and decided to take the car, telling Relerford to drive it. (See link to full affidavit above.)

“McElroy came around to the driver’s side to help,” Relerford said. “That’s when I heard three shots go off . .  McElroy went up to the car and it looked like he was about to pull the dead guy out of the car. I said, ‘I’m out of this bitch,’ and took off running. McElroy started running too and we ran all the way to our homeboy’s house.”

Feronda Smith – National Registry of Exonerations (umich.edu)

In his 2014 interview with P.I. Lewis, Cawon Lyles said that Flint police [Sgt. Ellis, the chief investigator] told him that one of the gunmen who robbed him just before the murder of Robert Montgomery was Vary, known as “Bay Bay.” He told Lewis that he knew “DJ,” the murder victim, from the neighborhood. He said he went to buy marijuana from him, but was robbed near DJ’s house just before the murder.

Gus Harrison CF in Ionia, MI 

Lewis wrote further. “Lyles stated that he first met Bay Bay through a chance encounter after he was incarcerated at the Gus Harrison Correctional Facility in Adrian. . . . Lyles stated that as he was walking toward the gym he saw three guys walking and one was a familiar face.

“He said that he asked who was from Flint and one of the men said, “we all from Flint.” Lyles stated that he asked the guy from Flint if Bay Bay was there because he wanted to confront him about robbing him years earlier. He stated that one of the men said, “I am Bay Bay and I never robbed you.” Lyles said he then asked if there was another person in from Flint named Bay Bay in level 2, and Bay Bay stated, “No, I’m the only one.”

Lyles said he then asked Bay Bay what he was locked up for and Bay Bay stated, “for something I didn’t do.” Lyles stated he then asked Bay Bay if he was locked up for shooting DJ and he replied, “yes.”  Lyles stated that’s when he knew that the wrong person had been locked up for shooting DJ because Bay Bay was not one of the men who robbed him and then walked down Mt. Elliott toward the area where DJ was.

Lewis said he then conducted a “blind sequential photo array” of 11 photos which he showed Lyles one at a time, with the proviso that the man who robbed him was not necessarily in the photos.

“Approximately three or four photos into the array, Mr. Lyles asked the investigator to put a picture face down on the table and let him view the rest of the photos. Upon completion of viewing all eleven photos, Lyles pointed to the picture lying face down on the table and stated, “that’s the man who robbed me.” The investigator then turned the photograph over and marked it with an X. The photo chosen by Lyles was the mug shot of Julius McElroy that the investigator obtained from the Flint Police Department.

Prof. Colin Miller, Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

Two alibi witnesses, Vary’s former girl friend and her mother, testified at trial that Vary was with them the entire day of the murder, celebrating the holiday season. Vary’s trial jury evidently did not believe them.

Professor Colin Miller is with the University of South Carolina School of Law. The ABA Journal named him of their top WEB 100 in 2017, citing his podcasts “Evidence Prof,” and “Undisclosed.”

In an Undisclosed podcast on the case of Darrell Ewing, extensively covered by VOD, he observed, “As we see all too often, in the American criminal justice system, jurors tend to reject alibis by African American witnesses, even if there is no evidence refuting their recollections. Perhaps the most infamous case in this vein is the case made famous by Bryan Stevenson in his book “Just Mercy” and the ensuing film: the case of Walter McMillian.”

In the movie “Just Mercy” a witness recantation saved defendant Walter McMillian from execution, exonerated him.

Ricardo Ferrell: In the meantime Vary remains locked up for a crime that evidence shows he’s innocent of, and the longer his case is delayed, the longer he’ll be in prison. We have a justice system that supposed to be fair to all under the law, but in the Vary case there’s a grave travesty of justice.

When Gilbert Poole was exonerated in May, Attorney General Dana Nessel was quoted saying, “This serves as an example of the important work being done by our CIU,” Nessel said. This is another case where such work needs to be done and should be immediately reviewed by the Statewide Conviction Integrity Unit, in order to exonerate Glen Vary for an obvious wrongful conviction.

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MICHIGAN BILL HB 4999 WOULD END ENHANCEMENT OF ADULT SENTENCES WITH JUVENILE CONVICTIONS

Michigan HB 4999 WAS INTRODUCED BY REP. JEWELL JONES, with Reps. Jones, Whitsett, O’Neal, Neeley, Brenda Carter, Coleman, Rabhi, Bolden, Tyrone Carter, Aiyash and Rogers and referred to the Committee on Judiciary.

Support HB 4999 by signing online petition at: https://www.change.org/SupportMIHouseBill4999

Juvenile laws are in the spotlight again for criminal justice reforms 

Lauren Washington

By Lauren Washington

with Ricardo Ferrell, VOD Field Editor

August 17, 2021

Currently, Michigan laws allow for a juvenile conviction to be used to enhance an adult’s criminal sentence. But House Bill 4999 was introduced on June 16 to change that, in line with previous U.S. Supreme Court decisions outlawing mandatory juvenile life without parole.

“I disagree with the current law that allows juvenile convictions to be used as factors for adult enhancements,” State Representative Jewell Jones (D-Inkster)  says. ” Prior to the pandemic my colleagues and I were working with a team of lawyers from our legal department and legislators from the other side of the isle, on a bill that would change this law.  This bill, if passed, will prohibit prosecutors from using a crime committed before the age of 18 as a factor for an adult enhancement.”

(http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/2021-HIB-4999.pdf.)

State Rep. Jewell Jones

Referring to U.S. Supreme Court rulings in Miller v. Alabama (2012) and Montgomery v. Louisiana (2016),  outlawing mandatory juvenile life without parole, he added, “The stage was set by these rulings. Brain science research has already been done on the topic of a juvenile’s mental development, capacity and culpability. This bill will prohibit prosecutors from using juvenile convictions and waivers.”

Rep. Jones is no stranger to the law. He is a highly decorated state legislator, National Guard reservist, and Auxiliary Inkster Police Officer. He recently had his own run in with the authorities, but could not comment on that because of a pending investigation.

“Having grown up in a disproportionately served community, I understand the need for second chances, all too well,” Jones said. “I will never let my own personal bad experiences with the authorities, jade my respect for the law or interfere with my duty to the people.”

The U.S. Supreme Court rulings cited brain science research headed by Dr. Laurence Steinberg, a professor at Temple University. ”An adolescent’s brain is not fully developed and thus that youth shouldn’t be held to the same standard of reasoning and culpability as an adult,” Dr. Steinberg testified during the Miller v. Alabama hearings.

”In light of the change in the law by the highest court in the land, and brain science research, how can we reasonably continue to allow the law to enhance the punishment of any person for a crime committed as an adolescent?” asks Shawanna Vaughn, Director of Silent Cry, Inc. who was recently appointed Ambassador of Reform Alliance Michigan.  Reform Alliance was founded by rappers Meek Mill and Jay-Z to address reforms in parole and probation.

She went on, “There are men and women incarcerated that are role model prisoners, meet the objectives of rehabilitation, have aged out of crime and fall into the lowest percentage of recidivism. Unfortunately, we can’t help them gain their freedom because of these antiquated and draconian laws that are long overdue for change.”

She said one such prisoner is Leroy Washington.

Shawanna Vaughn organized rally outside Gus Harrison CF in Ionia, MI to decry COVID-19 storm in MDOC. Dec. 11, 2020

Thirty six years ago, in 1985 at the age of 16, Washington was waived into adult court, and sentenced to five to 15 years, but paroled in 1990. In 1995, he again found himself in trouble with the law and was convicted of second degree murder. The low end of his guidelines would have been up to 25 years for his first adult felony; however, because he was waived as an adult at 16, his current sentence was enhanced to 2nd habitual and he is now serving 42 to 60 years. He has now served 25 years.

Washington has had no misconducts in the last 20 years. During his time in MDOC, Washington earned a Masters of Business Administration  (MBA), graduating Magna Cum Laude with a 3.69 GPA. He is currently enrolled in a Distant Learning Doctorate Program. He is a certified paralegal, having graduated from the Blackstone Institute. At the Thumb Correctional Facility, he was a Mentor for Youth Offenders & HYTA’s (Holmes Youthful Trainee Act).

He has taught and written corrective behavior curriculums and precollege modules. He authored a series of children’s nursery rhyme books, and wrote a ground breaking anti-bullying curriculum for the national Anti-Bully Advocates Project, with his daughter, aimed at eradicating bullying and reducing violence. To date, that program has  provided workshops and seminars for tens of thousands of students in both Texas and Michigan.

Leroy Washington

“I am deeply sorry, with every fiber of my soul, for the crime I committed,” Washington told VOD earlier. “As a man, I accept full responsibility for what I did. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in prison. I have so much more to give and so much to offer. I just want one more chance to show the world that I am capable of redemption. Another chance to share my hard-earned wisdom by making a positive contribution to the economic stability of my family and community, while demonstrating that my life has value beyond the sum of my errors.”

Vaughn added,  “Here’s a perfect example of a person the current law affects that we could take a chance on. I’m not trying to minimize his crime with his good behavior and accomplishments. His personal accolades speak volumes about who he has become, in and of itself! Nor are we saying that he shouldn’t have gone to prison. Even if the laws were to change it would still be up to the parole board to determine who gets released. What I’m saying, as criminal justice reform advocate, the law is wrong. I will never agree that we should punish a person a second time, as an adult for a bad decision made as a child. This is an institutional and systemic injustice that we can fix.”

CLOSING THOUGHTS: Most legislators (Federal & State) agree that our youth fall into a special class when it comes to crime and punishment. Even Michigan’s top official, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation in 2019 that raised the age of the juvenile court jurisdiction to age 18. Gov. Whitmer said, “This law will help 17-year-olds get aged appropriate treatment, prohibit some 17-year olds from being held in adult facilities, and gives greater discretion to judges and prosecutors.”

Sponsors of Michigan HB 4999.

To further support this position, our laws recognize that an individual must have the cognitive and social maturity to make sound judgments and act responsibly before being allowed to: vote, serve on juries, run for public office, join the armed forces, make legal contracts, get married, gamble, purchase property, alcohol, tobacco, etc.

They set the age of civic participation at eighteen and in some instances twenty one. This same recognition should be applied within our criminal justice system, not to excuse unlawful behavior by children but rather to acknowledge their lack of developmental maturity, which lessens their criminal culpability and competency.

Michigan is known for it’s institutional and systemic injustices and normally takes a hard stance against criminal justice reforms. Michigan disproportionately, over charges and over sentence our offenders. As a result we spend upward of 2.2 billion dollars a year on our prison system. Nearly, one quarter of our entire general budget to perpetuate these atrocities.

These are not white or nonwhite issues. They’re humanitarian issues. If we know of these social, systemic and institutional injustices, then we the people have to do something to change this or put lawmakers in office that have our best interest at heart.

To show your support please sign our online petition at: https://www.change.org/SupportMIHouseBill4999

WE WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT THIS BILL. Please leave a comment below.

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STOP NEW WAVE OF COVID-19 DUE TO DELTA VARIANT IN MICHIGAN PRISONS–FREE EFREN PAREDES JR.

PROTEST OUTSIDE SANTA RITA JAIL IN CALIFORNIA.

Virus has re-emerged in 9 Michigan prisons, likely due to Delta variant

“All 5  of the top 5 clusters of COVID-19 infections” in the U.S. are in prisons

COVID-19 can cause 200 symptoms in ten different bodily organs; many linger after virus leaves body

“Efforts to control COVID-19 in the community are likely to fail” if it runs rampant in prisons and jails

Sign Michigan Prison Reform petition to stop double-bunking, release prisoners to homes on tethers, other measures @ http://Bitly.com/MichPR.

Efrén Paredes, Jr.

By Efrén Paredes, Jr.

August 10, 2021

“Since the first case of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was confirmed in the United States on January 21, 2020, the largest clusters of infection have occurred within prisons and jails, distantly followed by meatpacking plants and nursing homes.”

Authors Camille Strassle and Benjamin E. Berkman made that observation in their 2020 academic journal article published in the San Diego Law Review titled “Prisons and Pandemics.

They added, “All five of the top five clusters of COVID-19 infections around the country are in carceral facilities, and incarcerated people are at least two-and-a-half times more likely than the general population to acquire COVID-19.”

The virus has re-emerged in nine of Michigan’s prisons this past week. A large number of the cases are likely the result of the highly contagious Delta variant which accounts for 93% of COVID-19 cases nationwide. Its ability to shut off the body’s immune system long enough to produce substantial, and sometimes irreversible damage, is particularly troubling.

Once the disease begins proliferating inside prisons we are going to witness it produce potentially catastrophic results once again. While vaccination numbers may help curtail surges of hospitalizations and deaths, it won’t prevent people who have been vaccinated from the possibility of experiencing long-term symptoms.

In a disturbing study published in LANCET last month researchers reported finding that COVID-19 can cause 200 symptoms in ten different bodily organs. In places like prisons that act as reservoirs or petri dishes for the virus the potential for this to occur is far greater than for members of the general public.

Vulnerable people caged in Michigan prisons who are powerless to extricate themselves from crowded living areas and other shared spaces desperately need your help to break the chain of COVID-19 infection and transmission.

To help combat this problem we are asking members of the public to please take a few moments to sign the Support Michigan Prison Reform (SMPR) online petition which can be accessed at http://Bitly.com/MichPR.

Each time a person signs the petition an email is sent to their respective State Representative and State Senator calling on them to support passage of legislation reflecting the 10-Point Michigan Prison Reform Platform.

The SMPR petition includes calling on lawmakers to end the inhumane practice of double-bunking and separating all beds in housing units by at least six feet to reduce transmission of deadly viruses.

If implemented this change can significantly reduce the population density in prisons and result in the release of thousands of people who would can be safely managed in the community and would pose no danger to society.

Through expanded use of the tether program people can still be held accountable for their crimes. Not only    could they protect their health and become productive members of society, they could also continue to be supervised electronically until the completion of their sentence.

The World Health Organization makes the valid argument that during a pandemic prison health should be equated with public health:

“The risk of rapidly increasing transmission of the disease within prisons or other places of detention is likely to have an amplifying effect on the epidemic, swiftly multiplying the number of people affected. [P] Efforts to control COVID-19 in the community are likely to fail if strong infection prevention and control (IPC) measures, adequate testing, treatment and care are not carried out in prisons and other places of detention as well.” (Regional Office for Eur., World Health Org., “Prevention and Control of COVID-19 in Prisons and Other Places of Detention” 1 (2020)).

In June, the World Health Organization issued this warning.

COVID-19 outbreaks in prison are a deadly public health emergency that demand a solution proportional to the size of the problem. That includes amplifying our voices to ensure our demands for change are persistently heard by every state lawmaker to help prevent incarcerated people from being silently stalked by a deadly virus.

Please act now and sign the petition. If you have already signed the petition please share the link widely in your social network and invite others to sign and share it as well.

Efrén Paredes, Jr.
Support Michigan Prison Reform
http://Bitly.com/MichPR

SMPR Facebook Group:
http://fb.com/groups/MichPR

SMPR Poster:
http://Bitly.com/MichPR-Poster

NEW JUVENILE LIFER COURT HEARING FOR EFREN PAREDES, JR.  SEPTEMBER 10, 2021

Michigan has highest number of juvenile lifers not yet resentenced in U.S.

70% of state juvenile lifers are people of color

94% of state juvenile lifers who have been re-sentenced got term of years

By Necalli Ollin

After postponing court hearings three times for Efrén Paredes, Jr since March 2021, Berrien County Trial Court Judge Charles LaSata has scheduled a court hearing in the case to be convened September 10, 2021.

The court hearing will be to decide whether LaSata will grant retired Berrien County prosecutor Michael Sepic’s motion seeking a life without parole (LWOP) sentence in Paredes’s case or dismiss the motion and grant Paredes a subsequent resentencing hearing.

Paredes is one of the individuals who received a mandatory LWOP sentenced when he was a minor who are commonly referred to as “juvenile lifers.” He was arrested at age 15 for a 1989 murder and robbery in St. Joseph, Michigan, which forensic evidence and witness statements made under oath since his trial establish he did not commit.

Berrien Co. Judge Charles LaSata

In 2012 the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling in the case of Miller v. Alabama abolishing mandatory LWOP sentences for juvenile offenders. The Court ordered the 2,500 people impacted by the ruling nationwide to have their cases reviewed for resentencing consideration.

Of the 367 juvenile lifers in Michigan at the time of the Supreme Court ruling an astonishing nearly 70% are people of color. Nine years after the 2012 high court ruling Michigan shamefully leads the nation in the number of juvenile lifers it incarcerates and has not yet resentenced.

The resentencing delays in these cases are due in large part to prosecutors who filed motions seeking undeserving LWOP sentences in many juvenile lifer cases. Their decisions require judges to conduct costly mitigation court hearings to be held requiring expert witnesses paid for at taxpayer expense in dozens of cases.

Efren Paredes Jr. with wife Maria Luisa Zavala (r) and family.

According to the U.S. Supreme Court, only juvenile offenders who are irreparably corrupt and forever incapable of change or rehabilitation can receive a LWOP sentence again. Anyone who demonstrates the capacity for change and rehabilitation must receive a term-of-year sentence.

To date 94% of people originally sentenced to LWOP when they were children in Michigan who have been resentenced have received a term-of-year sentence averaging 30.5 years. Only six percent have received LWOP again.

Despite prosecutors having their motions seeking LWOP sentences in juvenile lifer cases being denied by judges the overwhelming majority of the time they recklessly persist pursuing the extreme sentence.

Today Paredes is a social justice changemaker, thought leader, husband, and parent. A review of his extensive body of work and impressive record of accomplishments behind bars the past 32 years make it abundantly clear he is not a candidate to receive a LWOP sentence again.

He has developed a remarkable sense of self-awareness and has persistently evolved spiritually and intellectually. He is also a sound consequential thinker and problem solver who has developed a profound appreciation for the sanctity of life.

Berrien Co. Pros. Steve Pierangeli (l),  Exoneree Corey McCall with family (r).

The retired prosecutor seeking a LWOP sentence against Paredes, Michael Sepic, was the original prosecuting attorney in the case in 1989. Prior to trial Sepic engaged in misconduct by providing false and misleading information to the media about the case to taint the jury pool and wrongly convict Paredes. He stonewalled Paredes’ JLWOP case for years.

The Michigan Supreme Court has stated, however, that “a court cannot base its sentence even in part on defendant’s refusal to admit guilt.” (People v. Hatchett, 477 Mich. 1061 (2009); People v. Jackson, 474 Mich. 996 (2006)).

Newly elected Berrien County prosecutor, Steven Pierangeli,  swore Sepic in as an assistant prosecutor after his retirement to continue working on the Paredes case. Pierangeli recently vacated the conviction of Corey McCall at the request of the State Attorney General Dana Nessel’s Conviction Integrity Unit.

After 32-and-a-half years it’s long overdue that Paredes receive a fair ruling free of the taint of prosecutorial misconduct and abuse of power. He deserves to be granted a term-of-years sentence proportional to the average sentence other similarly situated juvenile lifers have received when resentenced.

Readers are invited to “Like” the Free Efrén Paredes, Jr. Facebook page to support his campaign for freedom, listen to his radio and podcast interviews, read his latest essays, and access links to social justice and criminal penal reform issues and events. The page is available at http://fb.com/Free.Efren.

Related on Berrien County cases:

Local juvenile lifer cases reflect the challenge across Michigan in re-examining whether justice was served | News | heraldpalladium.com

Police in St. Joseph taking new look at Benton Harbor teen’s 1991 death (freep.com)

RELATED on or by:  LIFER EFREN PAREDES, JR. REPORTS ON COVID-19 IN MDOC; PRISONERS IN GRAVE DANGER WORLD-WIDE | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

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