LIFER TERRY WILSON FACES NEW TRIAL IN HISTORICALLY RACIST MACOMB COUNTY; CHANGE OF VENUE NEEDED

The newscast above was published in 2021; Terry Lamont Wilson has now been in the Macomb County Jail for three years.

Terry Wilson faces new trial in Macomb County this year after judge threw out 2014 conviction due to racist comments by member of all-white jury

Wilson’s mother says, “My son is still not safe in Macomb County,” and wants a change of venue.

Macomb County known for openly racist politicians, employees, courts and police, national neo-Nazi group

Wilson testified he was defending himself in chaotic scene during shooting death of  a friend, but had no intent to kill

R. Ferrell

“Unrepresentative juries . . .also produce wrongful convictions and unfair sentences that disproportionately burden Black people and people of color-” 2021 Equal Justice Initiative study

By Ricardo Ferrell, VOD Field Editor
 with Diane Bukowski, Editor

Terry Lamont Wilson (MDOC photo)

Terry Lamont Wilson, in prison since 2014 on a charge of first-degree murder, won a new trial in 2019 after his appellate attorney Wade Fink discovered that the jury foreman on his all-white jury, Harvey Labadie, repeatedly made racist remarks during deliberations.

Despite the testimony of four fellow jurors, Labadie denied making the remarks when confronted by a Channel 7 News reporter. “I didn’t say racist comments. I have never said racist comments in my life. I am a Democrat.

Fink said at the time, “Huge victory for our criminal justice system but also another reminder that pernicious racial bias continues to exist.”

Wilson is still locked up three years after Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Faunce, who presided over his original trial,  ordered a new trial because of Labadie’s comments. At the same time, she ordered him remanded to the Macomb County Jail without bond. She has repeatedly denied motions asking for changes in his terms of confinement due to his health issues.

Macomb Cty AP Jurji Fedorak, Judge Jennifer Faunce

Wilson’s mother LaShanda Kelley told VOD she fears that flagrant racial bias is still rampant in Macomb County and wants a change of venue.

“My son is not safe in Macomb County,” she said. “He needs a change of venue. Jurors openly discussed the trial on Facebook during deliberations and one referred to my son as a ‘n—r’ repeatedly. That juror called my son ‘ghetto,’ implying that is the way THEY all are. One juror said she felt bullied into voting in favor of the verdict. Even though Terry has been granted a new trial, I still worry that he won’t receive a fair trial again.”

Judge Faunce’s 2019 ruling vacating Wilson’s conviction was widely covered by the media, but little was said about the all-white jury.

The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), headed by nationally prominent Attorney Bryan Stevenson,  known for his historic U.S. Supreme Court victories on behalf of juvenile defendants, published a 2021 study, “Race and the Jury.”

It begins, “Unrepresentative juries not only exclude and marginalize communities of color, they also produce wrongful convictions and unfair sentences that disproportionately burden Black people and people of color. Our failure to remedy this longstanding problem of racial bias imperils the legitimacy of the U.S. legal system.”

The report says the entire judicial system plays a role in producing all-white and non-representative juries, including judges, prosecutors, and even defense attorneys who do not challenge such juries.

It notes that, historically, not one top court in the 50 states has upheld such a challenge. However, Michigan’s Supreme Court, which has recently issued many ground-breaking rulings on behalf of defendants, may want to take a look at Wilson’s case in the event that another non-representative jury is selected or other indications of racism occur.

http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/race-and-the-jury-digital-EJI.pdf

MACOMB COUNTY’S HISTORY RIFE WITH RACISM

Macomb County has been dominated for decades by white elected politicians, courts and police. In 1972, pro-segregation presidential candidate  George Wallace won the Democratic primary election there.

In recent history, leaders have included  long-time Warren Mayor Jim Fouts,  known for his comments likening Blacks to chimpanzees, using the “n” word, and imitating a monkey with a banana. Warren is the third largest city in Michigan. Its voters have elected and re-elected Fouts four times so far with majorities as large as 85 percent of the electorate.  He is currently seeking a charter revision so he can run a fifth time.

(L-r) Warren Mayor Jim Fouts, hate group leader Richard Spencer, Sterling Heights City Council member Paul Smith

Terry Wilson is from Clinton Township, also the birthplace of Richard Spencer, leader of the Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas, termed a neo-Nazi hate group by civil rights organizations.

The group has faced heated protests at Michigan State University and other colleges nationally where its leaders were scheduled to speak.

Another Foundation leader is Paul Smith, who ran for mayor in Sterling Heights, the fourth largest city in the state, and still has significant support there. Deadline Detroit said, “He and his wife, council candidate Moira Smith, refer to Latino immigrants as ‘wetbacks’ and gays as ‘fags.’ At one rally,  Smith displayed a protest sign depicting President Barack Obama’s severed head on a metal pole.” See: Deadline Detroit | Selweski: Hate Group Cozies Up to 2 Macomb Cities; What Does That Say About Them?

Macomb County Morgue

In 2020, three Macomb County Morgue employees were fired after allegations of sexual harassment and racism. They involved one worker bringing in a cake with a Black penis in its frosting  the day after the murder of George Floyd. They were also accused of mocking Black family members, including one incident where a worker said, ‘Show them a picture of his penis. Maybe they’ll recognize him by that.” 3 Macomb County morgue employees fired amid allegations of racism and sexism | Metro Detroit News | Detroit | Detroit Metro Times

Current and former Macomb County Prosecutors Peter Lucido (l) and Eric Smith (r).

Former county Prosecutor Eric Smith, who was in office during Wilson’s trial, was sentenced to 21 months in prison in February on charges of “obstruction of justice,” related to his theft of over $74,000 from his campaign funds, and suborning perjury from witnesses who testified in front of a federal grand jury.

Current Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido has faced allegations of sexist behavior since his time in the State Senate, which have been renewed by his current employees.

Lucido is quoted in the  Channel 4 broadcast at the top of this story saying that he is confident Wilson’s second trial will result in another murder conviction, although Judge Faunce introduced a third charge of voluntary manslaughter after hearing testimony at the first trial.  Assistant Prosecutor Jurji Fedorak argued for first-degree murder. Fedorak told the all-white jury, “He wanted to show how big of a man he is in his neighborhood.”

Wilson says prosecution wants him to accept plea deal to second-degree murder, with a minimum sentence of 25 years, by August 16

Willie Deon Clark

Wilson was 21 when he shot a lifelong friend, Willie Clark, 24 in Prince Drewry Park in Clinton Township during an argument witnessed by dozens of people. The argument involved not only Wilson and Clark, but Clark’s two brothers. Such confrontations among Black youths are becoming more common nationally as their living conditions and prospects for the future deteriorate.

“I honestly feared for my life when Willie came galloping towards me yelling angrily after first going to his car,” Wilson told VOD. “I thought he had retrieved a gun because he was known to carry one. I was outnumbered and one of his brothers was twice my size. One brothert initiated the verbal argument and that caused the arguing between Willie and myself. Plus I suffered from an eye condition which made it difficult for me to see clearly and precisely what exactly Willie and his brothers were doing. This was happening real fast causing confusion and heightened my fear. So, I reacted instinctively thinking that I was in imminent danger of harm.

Macomb Cty. Asst. Public Defender Gary F. Kennedy II

“Yes, I am responsible for Willie’s death, but there was never any intent and I didn’t commit or plan any premeditated murder. I have been held in jail for three long years awaiting a new trial. And I have a legitimate concern that somehow the same thing will occur again with a jury not being fair and impartial. I pray that a lesser charge of manslaughter be offered by the Macomb County Prosecutors Office, as the circumstances, evidence and facts surrounding this case supports such a resolution.”

But Wilson said his current defense attorney, Gary F. Kennedy II,  told him the prosecution is offering him only a plea deal involving conviction of second-degree murder with a minimum 25 year sentence. The prosecution wants his decision on whether to accept the deal by a “final pre-trial hearing” August 16. The hearing is one of a series of previous “final” pre-trial hearings on Wilson’s court docket.

VOD’s legal consultant says no prosecutor can guarantee any sentence since that function is up to the judge. Even a second-degree murder conviction can result in a sentence up to “parolable life.” There are still dozens of so-called “parolable lifers” in prison in Michigan, many for decades, due to a parole board that often refers only to the original crime, not evidence of rehabilitation, in its assessments. Michigan has the longest sentences in the country, with individuals in the Department of Correction currently serving an average of 126 percent of their minimum sentences so far.

HISTORY OF THE TRIAL AND RE-TRIAL

The racist comments by jury foreman Harvey Labadie were revealed by fellow jurors, who testified at an evidentiary hearing in 2018 that he referred to Wilson as a ‘n—–,’ and had already formed an opinion inside the jury room, as to what the punishment should be.

Harvey Labadie/photo from current Facebook page

Judge Faunce held the evidentiary hearing in June, 2018 after Wilson filed a motion for relief from judgment in her court.  She granted the motion Aug 9, 2018, vacating Wilson’s conviction, but also ordered that he continued to be held without bond pending a new trial.  OPINION & ORDER GRANTING DEFT TERRY WILSON’S MTN FOR RELIEF FROM JDGMT; DEFT’S CONVICTIONS ARE VACATED; DEFT TO BE HELD W/NO BOND -SGD

Labadie initially complained about being selected for jury duty in Wilson’s trial, then posted comments on his Facebook page during deliberations which showed he had already formed an opinion on his verdict. At least one improper Facebook post by Juror Gary Ludwig was made inside the jury room, as jurors were going over the case.

It should be noted there are municipalities within Macomb County with populations up to approximately 47 percent Black, including Warren, Roseville, Eastpointe, and others. Macomb County’s entire population of Black residents has risen from 11 percent in 2010 to 18 percent in 2020 showing the rapid growth. AP Jurji Fedorak evidently excluded Black jurors from Terry Wilson’s jury to ensure that an all-white jury would be impaneled. But there is no evidence on the record available to VOD that his defense attorney at trial challenged that selection. The EJI report says defense attorneys are frequently too fearful of prosecutors to do so.

A just remedy would be to offer a ‘Nolo Contendere’ plea to Manslaughter and in a showing of good faith, grant Wilson a bond pending the completion of trial proceedings. If that does not happen, the Michigan Supreme Court may eventually find that Wilson has cause for demanding a change of venue.

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MICHAEL THOMPSON PROJECT FIGHTS FOR CLEMENCY FOR 11 MICHIGAN PRISONERS WHO HAVE SERVED 30-40-50 YRS.

Video above courtesy of Michael Thompson Clemency Project on Facebook

MTCP FIGHTS FOR FREEDOM ON JUNETEENTH–Cresco Labs, Sponsor

“State of Michigan is worst state in the country on sentencing” –Sheldon Neely, Mayor of Flint, uncle of Michael A. Thompson

Featured June 19 in Flint: “The Sentence of Michael Thompson,” currently featured at film festivals nationally

Ricardo Ferrell

Mike McCurdy

By Ricardo Ferrell, VOD Field Editor

& Mike McCurdy, Co-Director MTCP

FLINT MI – Freedom fighters from the Michael Thompson Clemency Project (MTCP) and multistate cannabis operator Cresco Labs hosted an event at the historic Capitol Theater in downtown Flint on Juneteenth which marks 157 years ago today that slaves in Galveston, Texas were told, and finally realized, that they were free. Now, in that same spirit of freedom, the MTCP is working to achieve freedom for several deserving individuals through clemency who have served 3, 4, 5 decades behind bars. Earlier this year the MTCP received a grant from Cresco Labs to help in their efforts in preparing and presenting applications for commutations of the small group to the governor’s office.

Michael A. Thompson dedicated the Flint Juneteenth event to the memory of his  son. MTCP Facebook

The event featured a special screening of the documentary ‘The Sentence of Michael Thompson’, a documentary short that has yet to be publicly released and is currently screening at film festivals nationwide. The attendees included; politicians, civic leaders, attorneys, advocates, families and friends, all supporting the event. At the conclusion some shared these reflections:

LEROY WASHINGTON, DAUGHTER LAUREL

Leroy Washington

“Although we’ve remained in touch by daily phone calls, frequent Jpay emails, and monthly visits, it’s nothing compared to actually having your loved one at home.

As I was getting things in order, so I could board a flight to Detroit, my recollection of my father being free permeated in my mind. I was just turning 4 years-old when my father and I last saw one another on the outside.

My father’s absence for these past 27 years, has been so hard to bear. However, the strength that he’s shown has resonated in me. I can honestly say, it was my father’s guidance, inspiration and unconditional love from behind those walls that has helped me become the successful woman I am today. Despite being in prison, my father was able to create a curriculum for my Anti-Bully Crusaders Organization.

Lauren Washington

While I was in college, I shared with him my passion for wanting to rid all learning institutions of bullying and making them all ‘Bully Free Safe Zones’. He sprung into action and helped me create this life changing and saving program. I am very proud of my father LeRoy Washington, and want to see him get a second chance. I applaud the efforts by the Michael Thompson Clemency Project to advocate for my father’s release and well-deserved freedom. I am so happy that I traveled all the way from Dallas, Texas to first come visit my father on Father’s Day morning, then attend this phenomenal event on the day that celebrates freedom,”

RICARDO FERRELL, BROTHER STEVON

Stevon Ferrell

“Late last month, I had already planned to travel to Ohio to spend the Juneteenth weekend with my daughter Jahne’ and my grandchildren, as my granddaughter Dalylah would be celebrating her 4th birthday on June 19th. Also, I would be there for Father’s Day. But those plans quickly changed when I learned of this event.

My brother Ricky, who you all know as Ricardo, went away to prison when I was only 3 years-old, I’m 44 now. I called my daughter and told her I had to go up to Flint to support her uncle. I said, “Nae Nae, I’m still going to be there Saturday for the birthday party, but I’ll have to leave by one pm on Father’s Day to make it to Flint in time. I wasn’t going to miss this event. And, I will like to extend my thanks to Michael Thompson and everyone who is working to secure my brother’s freedom.”

Sheldon Neeley, Mayor of Flint/photo Michigan Radio

Other speakers included the Mayor of Flint, Sheldon Neeley and Charlie Batchell, CEO and Co-Founder of Cresco Labs. Both spoke strongly and passionately about the need for prison reform in the State of Michigan and supporting the work of MTCP.

With there now being a focus on criminal justice reform, antiquated policies and practices that often keep low risk elderly individuals in prison, this outdated practice definitely needs rethinking.

The star of the documentary and featured speaker of the evening Michael Thompson spoke about having served 25 years in prison before getting granted a commutation by Governor Whitmer. He spoke about how he will spend the rest of his life fighting for those still unjustly incarcerated.

Charlie Batchell, CEO of Cresco Labs (l), Marshall Clabeaux, MTCP (r).

Following Michael Thompson’s remarks the codirectors of MTCP Mike McCurdy and Marshall Clabeaux spoke about each of the 11 incarcerated individuals whom MTCP is currently fighting for. As each name of an incarcerated individual was announced, family and supporters yelled and cheered from the audience. Let freedom ring, like it has for Michael Thompson, for these individuals who are more than ready and deserving to be reintegrated back into their communities, where they can follow in the footsteps of Michael Thompson and be examples of hope, transformation and change.

Hopefully Governor Whitmer, who has said she is a strong believer in second chances, will move to grant the MTCP eleven submitted individuals clemency.

RELATED:

Home – Cresco Labs

RICARDO FERRELL, VOD Field Editor, has written more than 40 articles for the Voice of Detroit over the previous years. Put his name in the Search Engine to see those stories. Below is his article on the Anti-Bully Crusaders:

LEROY WASHINGTON, DAUGHTER CO-FOUND NATL. ANTI-BULLYING PROJECT TO CHANGE, SAVE LIVES | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

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MICH. LIFER RICKY RIMMER CITES RACIST, VIOLENT HISTORY OF DPD COPS HAIDYS, HARRIS IN MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL


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Ricky Rimmer’s motion for new trial/relief from judgment was filed Jan. 10, 2022 and is on the docket of 3rd CC Judge Christopher Blount

DPD Sgts. Leo Haidys and James Harris were chief architects of Rimmer’s conviction for 1975 murder of car dealer Joseph Kratz on Detroit’s east side

Haidys was tried for felonious assault during infamous Veterans Memorial Incident in 1968; white cops attacked Black youths at church event

Harris tried for murder in Rochester Street Massacre of Wayne Co. Deputy Sheriffs in 1971, later convicted, spent 20 years in prison for protecting int’l drug shipments; now on Wayne Co. Prosecutor’s Brady list

“I want Rimmer, get your stories straight” — Harris to three other Black youths at DPD HQ 1975; motion says he used them as “police agents.”

By Diane Bukowski

August 8, 2022

DETROIT — “I have done 47 years for a crime I did not commit,” Ricky Rimmer, now 68, told VOD today.

“Sgt. James Harris told me to sell drugs for him, and I refused. He used to come through our neighborhood squeezing guys, shaking guys down, pushing them up against the cars. I wasn’t going to do that for him. I was young and scared of him, everybody in the  neighborh00d was scared of him, they knew he was a dirty cop, putting guys in jail who hadn’t done anything. I knew he would set me up or kill me for refusing. He did both when he put me in here for life.”

Rimmer said he told his defense attorney Warfield Moore, Jr. that he wanted to testify at his trial about Harris’ attempt to have him sell drugs, but Moore would not let him.

He said he wishes he had known then that Harris was tried f0r murder in the notorious “Rochester Street Massacre” of Wayne County Deputy Sheriffs in 1971, and that Sgt. Leo Haidys, the Chief Investigating Officer (CIO) on his case, had been tried for felonious assault during the infamous  “Veterans Memorial Incident” in 1968, a mob attack on Black youths by white cops.

During Harris’ 1971 trial, the Sheriffs’ Office said Harris blatantly lied that the Sheriffs initiated the gunfire and continued firing at the DPD S.T.R.E.S.S. cops, a claim not backed up by any forensic evidence. Harris was acquitted, but was later convicted and sentenced to 30 years in 1991 for taking bribes to protect international drug deliveries in Detroit. He is now on Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s 2020 Giglio-Brady list.

In his pro se motions set for an initial hearing Aug. 10, Rimmer says his conviction must be vacated, citing the prosecution’s failure to disclose the two officers’ prior records under Brady v. Maryland and related cases, in addition to his innocence of the crime. See:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/RICKY-RIMMER-MOTIONS-FOR-NEW-TRIAL-EVIDENTIARY-HEARING-BRIEF-IN-SUPPORT-ET-AL-2.pdf.

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 1968 Veterans Memorial Incident involving, among others, DPD Sgt. LEO HAIDYS, OIC at RICKY RIMMER trial in 1976

“How is it possible that the DPD only fired one police officer after a violent and racist mob-style mass attack on [Black] teenagers, and that only one of the dozens of white [officers] involved was prosecuted at trial? It is important to emphasize that what activists labeled ‘police brutality’ and ‘police misconduct’ also represented police illegality, criminality, and often felony wrongdoing. By creating a system in which criminality by police officers went unpunished, or at most received mild discipline as a violation of DPD ‘rules and regulations,’ the police department had become one of the largest and most well-organized, and certainly the most legally untouchable, criminal organizations in Detroit.”  Veterans Memorial Incident · Detroit Under Fire: Police Violence, Crime Politics, and the Struggle for Racial Justice in the Civil Rights Era · Omeka Beta Service (umich.edu)

James Harris in
“Detroit Under S.T.R.E.S.S.” documentary

1971 Rochester Street Massacre of  Wayne Co. Sheriffs  involving among others:                                                                      Sgt. JAMES HARRIS, witness at RICKY RIMMER trial 

“Why did a STRESS unit invade a private apartment with guns blazing, killing and wounding other law enforcement officers? To the growing anti-STRESS movement, the Rochester Street Massacre was either the latest example of the unit’s murderous shoot-first mentality, or an even more sinister illustration of the massive corruption at the heart of the Detroit Police Department, perhaps even tied to an internal law enforcement battle for control of the profits from the city’s illegal narcotics markets.” Rochester Street Massacre · Detroit Under Fire: Police Violence, Crime Politics, and the Struggle for Racial Justice in the Civil Rights Era · Omeka Beta Service (umich.edu)

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AP account of murder of Joseph Kratz in 1975.

Two parties in the case, Rimmer’s co-defendant  and a witness who police involved in the trial at 16 years old, came forward last year.

They swore out affidavits stating that Sgt. Harris conspired to have them falsely testify that Rimmer shot Joseph Kratz during a robbery at Delta Motor Sales, which he owned.

(On the morning of the trial, Sgt. Haidys took the stand and testified outside the presence of the jury, before Judge Henry Heading. He said that a third witness called him the morning of the trial and said he could not testify because he did not want to be labeled as a “rat.”

This witness did in fact appear that morning and testified outside the presence of the jury that he did not tell Sgt. Haidys that he did not want to testify. He said he called Sgt. Haidys and informed him that he lacked transportation to get to court. He further testified that he lied at Rimmer’s preliminary exam, because Sgt. Harris told him falsely that Rimmer and his co-defendant had killed his little brother, and he wanted revenge. But instead, Heading ordered his exam testimony to be read to the jury afterwards.)

In their affidavits, Rimmer’s co-defendant and the second witness swore that Harris placed them all in a room at DPD headquarters and told them to get their stories together, because he wanted them to say that Rimmer was the one who shot Kratz.

The 16-year-old witness had testified at trial. The prosecution declared him a hostile witness after he denied much of the statement he signed for Harris earlier. In his affidavit, he says, “most of the contents of that statement were Sgt. Harris’ thoughts and ideas. I agreed to it because I had been told that Ricky Rimmer killed my best friend. . .”

In his affidavit, Rimmer’s co-defendant says, “. . . . At no time during my interview with Sgt. James Harris did I tell him that I saw Ricky Rimmer chasing the car salesman while shooting at him. Ricky Rimmer was not present during the robbery of the car salesman.”

The co-defendant’s conviction was later overturned by the Michigan Supreme Court, which ruled that Judge Heading should not have told the jury that he deemed his  “confession” to be voluntarily given.

When that ruling was remanded to Heading’s court, Heading dismissed not only the co-defendant’s conviction, but also Rimmer’s. An appeals court overturned the dismissal of Rimmer’s conviction, with one judge dissenting.

Judge Stewart Newblatt of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan later granted Rimmer’s  writ of habeas corpus on the basis of Judge Heading’s refusal to have the third witness testify before the jury, a Sixth Amendment confrontation violation. But Judge Newblatt rescinded the grant after an objection from the prosecution.

Rimmer’s motions and brief rest on key legal grounds not often cited by mainstream attorneys and other professionals, among them:

MCL 770.1  Statutory RELIEF WHEN JUSTICE HAS NOT BEEN DONE

“MCL 770.1 stands as a substantive ground for relief independent of any provided by the Michigan Court Rules. As stated, the State of Michigan enacted MCL 770.1 to correct wrongful convictions within the State of Michigan by providing for substantive relief from the trial court when it appears to the court that “justice has not been done.” In other words, the law makers have given the trial court the exclusive authority to correct a miscarriage of justice in a criminal conviction at any time when good cause is shown. See MCL 770.2(4).”

MCR 6.502 (G)(2) amended: SIGNIFICANT POSSIBILITY OF INNOCENCE

“The Michigan Supreme Court has amended MCR. 6.502(G)(2), adding  “The court may waive the provisions of this rule if it concludes that there is a significant possibility that the defendant is innocent of the crime. For motions filed under both (G)(1) and (G)(2), the court shall enter an appropriate order disposing of the motion.” MCR 6.502(G)(2) as amended September 20, 2018.”

CREDIBLE RECANTATION EVIDENCE can prove ACTUAL INNOCENCE

“Credible recantation evidence can be sufficient to prove actual innocence. To determine whether the recantation is reliable, a court should consider the context of the original statement as well as the context of the recantation. Known causes of wrongful conviction, like unreliable and coercive interrogation tactics, can explain why a witness offered false testimony at trial and why a reasonable juror applying the Schlup (Schlup Delo, 513 US 298 (1995)) standard would find a subsequent recantation more reliable.”

ACTUAL INNOCENCE is ABSENCE OF GUILT beyond reasonable doubt 

“A Schlup claim is not based on affirmative proof that the defendant did not commit the crime; it is based on the absence of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Schlup, at 328. A defendant is “actually innocent” under Schlup if the court finds it is more likely than not that no reasonable juror could find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in light of the newly presented evidence. Under Schlup, Mr. Rimmer is not required to eliminate all inference of guilt. House v. Bell, 547 US 518, 553-54 (2006). Mr. Rimmer is required, instead, to show the likely effect of the new evidence on a juror applying the reasonable doubt standard. House at 539.”

The video above recounts the 1991 arrests of DPD’s James Harris and Willie Volsan after they agreed to protect international drug shipments to Detroit.

RELATED:

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

http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Wayne-County-Prosecutor-GIGLIO-BRADY-LIST-12-7-2020-2.pdf

I AM NOT BITTER, BUT I DO HOPE AND PRAY THAT RESTORATIVE JUSTICE PHILOSOPHIES AND PRACTICE PROVE TRUE IN MY HAVING A SECOND CHANCE AT LIFE ON THE OUTSIDE.   Ricky Rimmer-Bey

Write Ricky Rimmer at: 

Ricky Rimmer #133464 

Carson City Correctional Facility  

10274 Boyer Road
Carson City, MI 48811-9746

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Donations for the Voice of Detroit are urgently needed to keep this paper, which is published pro bono, going. Among ongoing expenses are quarterly HostPapa web charges of $460.00, costs for research including court documents, internet fees, office supplies, gas, etc. The editor and reporters are not paid for their dedicated work, and many live on fixed incomes or are incarcerated. Please, if you can:

 DONATE TO VOD: 

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GROUP WANTS DPD COP DEWAYNE JONES FIRED FOR 2018 BEATING OF DISTRESSED WOMAN SHELDY SMITH IN ER


Detroit cop DeWayne B. Jones slugged Sheldy Smith, naked and in distress,  9 times in the ER at Detroit Receiving Hospital Aug. 1,  2018

Jury found Jones guilty of misdemeanor assault in 2019, but he won new trial set  for Sept. 8 on appeal; final pre-trial rescheduled to Aug. 10

“It’s Not Over — Justice for Sheldy Smith!”–Marilyn Jordan, President, Detroit People’s Task Force

“It’s not only Jones, it’s the entire system,” — Scotty Boman, Pres. DRACO: Police union, dozens of cops supported Jones’ assault on woman

Activists say Jones must be removed from the DPD and have felony charges reinstated

By Diane Bukowski

August 2, 2022

DPD officer DeWayne Jones at court hearing in 2018.

DETROIT — Four years to the day after Detroit Police officer DeWayne B. Jones viciously beat Sheldy Smith, a young Black woman in mental distress, in the Detroit Receiving Hospital ER while she was naked,  Detroit activists swore that they will never let Jones or the criminal justice system off the hook. They demanded that he be fired and have felony charges reinstated against him.

Members of Detroit Residents Advancing Civilian Oversight (DRACO), the Detroit People’s Task Force, the National Action Network, schools and church activists gathered outside 36th District Court Aug. 1, where a court hearing on charges against Jones was scheduled, pending a second jury trial set for Sept. 8. Jones had appealed a 2019 guilty verdict on misdemeanor assault charges, and won a new trial.

“It’s not over,” Marilyn Jordan, president of the Detroit Peoples’ Task Force said. “Our system is not broken. It does exactly what it is supposed to do. We’re not just gathering here because we want justice. We know justice is not given, it has to be taken. Justice for Sheldy Smith!”

36th DC Judge Kenneth King

On August 1, 2018, Jones took Smith to the Detroit Receiving Hospital ER after picking her up on a  “lewd and lascivious” call at Brainard and Trumbull. She was unclothed and non-resisting, evidently having a breakdown. But after she was in the ER and again naked, he assumed a boxer’s stance and slugged her nine times in the face and chest, severely injuring her, in view of other officers, hospital staff and patients. One observer secretly videotaped the attack. Jones and police union President Mark Diaz claimed Smith was out of control and attacked him.

“A person can definitely be maimed by someone biting onto them so the officer did what he felt at that time was appropriate,” Diaz told Channel 4 News in 2018.

In 2018, the Detroit chapter of the NAACP issued a lengthy statement condemning that assault on Smith, but has not commented since. (See box below for excerpts.)

Scotty Boman, head of Detroit Residents Advancing Civilian Oversight (DRACO), said dozens of police officers turned out at a 2018 Police Commission meeting to support Jones against a disciplinary suspension, testified that he acted appropriately, and that they would have done the same thing.

“It is not just about Jones,” Boman observed, “it’s about the entire system.”

“Dewayne Jones was able to get a promotion in spite of being a convicted violent criminal,” he explained. In spite of the conviction he wasn’t held accountable.  Now he is trying to be exonerated while Sheldy Smith remains captive and isolated from her family.  This isn’t justice.”

Pastor Eric Blount, of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, said he attended a private meeting with former DPD Chief James Craig where police bodycam videos were shown.

“Please do not believe the false narrative that she was trying to bite someone,” Blount said.” Channel 4 News reported that Smith was “passive” and non-resisting when Jones first picked her up.

Boman said Smith has never been able to speak for herself because she has been kept out of public view under a guardianship set up by Wayne County Probate Court. Notoriously abusive guardian Mary Rowan, who was profiled in an earlier series of VOD stories. has been assigned to her case. Smith’s sister has continued appealing the guardianship in ongoing court proceedings.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy originally charged Jones with a felony count of “misconduct in office,” and misdemeanor assault. A legal observer told VOD that Jones should have also faced a felony weapons charge since he was armed with his DPD-issued gun during the assault.

Judge E. Lynise Bryant

Thirty-Sixth District Court Judge Kenneth King dismissed the felony “misconduct in office” charge without prejudice, meaning it can be re-instated, before a jury trial in 2019.

The jury found Jones guilty of the misdemeanor charge. King sentenced him only to one-year probation and various corrective measures like anger management classes.  Jones appealed the verdict and sentence citing improper jury instructions.

Judge E. Lynise Bryant heard the appeal and granted him a new trial. She continues to preside over his hearings.

In the interim, DPD promoted him to sergeant, overriding a vote by the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners. The BOPC did not appeal the DPD’s action. Instead, they voted to reinstate him to the force as Sergeant Jones after his suspension was over.

ASHLEY SMITH

Sheldy Smith’s sister Ashley Smith told Detroit News reporter Oralandar Brand-Williams last year that she was outraged by Bryant’s decision to grant Jones a new trial.

“It is ridiculous that the city of Detroit stood behind police brutality again,” Smith said. “Everywhere else, cities are trying to improve relations with their communities, especially in light of the George Floyd case . . . not promote (officers accused of wrongdoing) . . . not be behind them. Yet the city continues to protect him. This is gross negligence. It’s disrespectful. We saw him beating my sister on video.”

RELATED:

JUSTICE FOR SHELDY PRESS RELEASE, D.R.A.C.O.

http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/8-1-2022Justice4SheldyRelease.pdf

DETROIT COP DEWAYNE JONES BEAT MENTALLY ILL WOMAN AT HOSPITAL, GOT PROBATION, THEN GOT PROMOTED | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

WAYNE CO. PROBATE JUDGE TERRANCE KEITH, GUARDIAN MARY ROWAN FORCE VET GAYLE ROBINSON, 84, TO FLEE | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

Only known photo of Mary Rowan (seated in blue as she berates reporter for covering her kidnapping of Mailauni Williams (right) in 2015.

SERIAL KIDNAPPER? ATTY. MARY ROWAN TAKES SECOND ADULT WARD FROM HOME WITHOUT COURT ORDER | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

ROSA PARKS’ GODCHILD MAILAUNI WILLIAMS FOUND; JUDGE GEORGE, GUARDIAN ROWAN REMOVED FROM CASE | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

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MICH. SUPREME COURT STRIKES DOWN 1-MAN GRAND JURIES; UNCONSTITUTIONAL, ‘CAN’T CUT CORNERS’


PEOPLE v PEELER, v BAIRD, v LYON, 2022 Mich Lexis 1267. Download at peeler-op.pdf (michigan.gov)

 Judges CANNOT issue charges, MUST hold preliminary examinations

“The Flint water crisis stands as one of this country’s greatest betrayals of citizens by their government,” but prosecution cannot cut c0rners – Justice Richard Bernstein

Darrell Ewing

“If it’s unconstitutional for one, it’s unconstitutional for all” — Lillian Diallo, chair of the Wayne County Criminal Defense Bar Association

By Darrell Rashard Ewing

with VOD editor Diane Bukowski

July 18, 2022

DETROIT–Ruling unanimously, the Michigan Supreme Court blew the use of “one-man grand juries” in Michigan courts out of the water June 28. The high court handed down a game-changing decision, holding that state statutes in effect since 1912 “only authorize a judge to investigate, subpoena witnesses and issue arrest warrants. But they do not authorize the judge to issue indictments” which authorize criminal charges against defendants.  (See state statutes at MCL 767.3 and 767.4.)

The Court said that even after a judge takes such initial actions, defendants still have the right to “preliminary examinations.”

The high court targeted Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s use of the one-man grand jury in the criminal prosecutions of former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and other state officials at the root of the ‘Flint Water Crisis’ that rocked the nation in 2014.

But the ruling affects hundreds and perhaps thousands of other grass-roots defendants in Michigan as well.

“The Flint water crisis stands as one of this country’s greatest betrayals of citizens by their government,” Justice Bernstein noted, stressing that the high court still wants justice for the people of Flint. He cites dozens of studies covering the breadth and life-long impact of the harm done to Flint residents by the corporate-sponsored contamination of their water with toxic levels of lead, E. coli, and Legionella bacteria.

“Yet the prosecution of these defendants must adhere to proper procedural requirements because of the magnitude of the harm that was done to Flint residents,” he says. “The prosecution cannot simply cut corners in order to prosecute defendants more efficiently.”

Instead of teams of special prosecutors issuing criminal complaints and then holding preliminary examinations in open court, at which Snyder et. al. could have heard and challenged the evidence against them, Nessel et. al. shimmied their way through and secretly cut corners.

They proceeded under a hundred-year-old 1912 law, which nowhere authorizes a one man grand jury to hear evidence and criminally indict. Lillian Diallo, one of the most vigorous defense attorneys in Detroit and President of the Wayne County Criminal Defense Bar Association, told Fox 2 News reporter Amy Lange, “I always knew it wasn’t right.”

MICH. AG DANA NESSEL APPOINTED THIS TEAM TO PROSECUTE FLINT CASE #2 AFTER DISMISSING CASE #1, WHICH INCLUDED PRELIMINARY EXAMS

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy responded, “This is a blow to us, in terms of prosecutorial tools.” But Prosecutor Worthy has her own name in the Flint game.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel appointed Worthy and former Wayne Co. Asst. Prosecutors Fadwa Mahmoud and Molly Sattler to handle the criminal case against Snyder et. al. She fired key prosecutors on former Attorney General Bill Schuette’s team and dismissed the charges they brought against 15 former state and local officials.

Schuette’s team did use preliminary exams in those charges. It was also planning to pursue racketeering charges targeting the Wall Street bond market’s role in dismantling the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department and privatizing Flint’s water services, according to a recent article in the Guardian (see link below story).

Flint residents protested the WATER POISONING for profit of their entire city.

Worthy has been one of the only prosecutors in the State to often use the one-man grand jury (“18-20 cases a year”). She claims it is the only way of getting witnesses who fear coming forward and cooperating, to testify.

However, Legal Warrior Attorney Diallo shatters that position:  “They say oh, we can’t get the people in to testify, but you get them to come in and testify for a grand jury.” That’s a point prosecutors can’t dispute, and certainly not in the case of the ‘Flint Water Crisis’. Residents of Flint steady protest and cry for aid to this day!

It’s been uncloaked that the ruling has created another issue as Attorney Diallo made clear: “If it’s unconstitutional for one, it’s unconstitutional for all.” She advised all four hundred attorneys in the Wayne County Criminal Defense Bar Association to immediately file motions for dismissal for any clients of theirs who were indicted under this now indisputably illegal one-man grand jury procedure.

“If you ask me even those in prison should be let out” she added, ” If you want to retry them release them, then retry them. Starting with a preliminary exam. ”

Related:

VOD’s stories on the Flint water crisis, including this 2015 article, with links to other VOD Flint coverage. It begins: 

“The mass lead poisoning of the people of Flint, Michigan, a cold-blooded act of domestic terrorism, was contrived for the profit of the Wall Street bond market, corporations and politicians by both Republicans and Democrats with their own agendas.” BI-PARTISAN DEAL LED TO FLINT WATER POISONING FOR PROFIT: THE KAREGNONDI WATER AUTHORITY (KWA) | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

Picking up on VOD’s depiction of water poisoning for profit,  the Guardian newspaper published this article analyzing the Flint prosecutions in Jan. 2021. It begins:

“The former criminal prosecution team investigating the Flint water crisis was building a racketeering case against state officials. Then the team was dismantled.”  Revealed: the Flint water poisoning charges that never came to light | Flint water crisis | The Guardian

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WRONGFULLY CONVICTED OF DRUG CRIMES, TRACY COWAN SERVED 20 YRS; NOW CONTINUES BATTLE TO SAVE OTHERS

Tracy Cowan’s wrongful imprisonment impelled her to study law and help other prisoners, especially young women

Campaign led by Rick Wershe, state lawmakers led to Gov. Whitmer’s grant of clemency in Jan. 2022

VOD’s Ricardo Ferrell pays tribute to Cowan for her continued life of  helping women dealing with domestic and other abuses

Ricardo Ferrell

By Ricardo Ferrell

VOD Field Editor

July 11, 2022

On January 27, 2022, Tracy Cowan, 60, walked out of the doors of the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Pittsfield Township to greet a crowd of family members, supporters and news reporters. She had served nearly two decades there on trumped up drug charges.

Cowan was arrested by authorities in Sept. 2002, in a raid of a home on Appoline in Detroit. Cowan and her children were staying the night there, when the raid team rushed in.  That arrest resulted from a web of lies concocted by her ex-boyfriend, drug dealer Richard ‘Maserati Rick’ Carter, to shift blame and broker a deal with police and prosecutors to avoid going to prison himself. Cowan was set up to take the fall for something she absolutely had no culpability of.

Earlier that day, Farmington Hills police drove a confidential informant around to several locations to conduct a ‘controlled buy’ of  cocaine. Their route included the Appoline St. address.

During the raid, they allegedly found about 1,500 grams of cocaine, a pound of marijuana and two loaded firearms in two separate locked locations in the home.

Tracy Cowan didn’t own the home, but she was arrested and charged with possession of those drugs and guns.

According to police reports and court records, Carter made a sell of cocaine vicariously to the Farmington Hills police through the named informant in the case, while Cowan wasn’t there.  Not only was Cowan not at the residence when the ‘controlled buy’ took place, she also didn’t have any actual or constructive knowledge of the stashed drugs, guns, marijuana or the transaction itself.

So, for the next 20 years, Cowan sat in prison vigorously fighting to prove that she’d been wrongfully convicted. Cowan saw first hand how broken the criminal justice system is, and used that insight as a motivator to study and interpret the law. Her own legal wranglings prompted her to spend a great deal of time in the prison’s law library.  She became a foremost legal mind among “jailhouse lawyers,”  crafting legal pleadings for herself and follow prisoners alike. Many lawyers and even judges have commended her work on cases, including at least two successful pleadings on a first degree murder conviction.

Tracy also has a passion for helping the youth. While incarcerated, she didn’t let her situation devalue her. Instead, she landed a job working as a mentor in the prison’s youth unit, counseling younger women on how to get their lives back on track. She got through to many young women, employing her listening skills, and a caring demeanor when talking with them. Tracy would encourage the younger women and the older inmate population to grab ahold of hope, find their purpose, and extend a helping hand whenever possible to others in need.

Protesters outside Huron Valley Women’s Prison Jan. 17, 2022/Photo: Final Call

Now she’s been given a new lease on life, after being granted clemency by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer late last year. Tracy wants her story to be more of a cautionary tale rather than some misperceived glamorization of her life and the men she once dated, including Rick Carter. According to federal authorities, Carter was believed responsible up to 80 percent of the cocaine distribution in the metropolitan Detroit area in the 80s. Tracy wants her message and story to get the attention of young girls and women, who may find themselves in compromising and vulnerable predicaments,  so they won’t have to experience the sort of setbacks in their lives, similar to her own.

Since her exodus from prison, Tracy has been offered book and movie deals to tell her life story, but she respectfully declined because she doesn’t want her story to be glamorized. For now, she’s content on concentrating on her mission, which involves helping women she left behind, advocating for women facing domestic violence and abuse, and helping to save at-risk youth from going down a dead-end road to prison.

Tracy’s aspires to obtain her law degree, pass the bar exam, and become a lawyer in fulfillment of her childhood dreams. She’s also written a children’s book and is working on a memoir on her life.

JOSEPH

Anyone who’s heard Tracy’s compelling story must be wondering how a wrongfully convicted woman could hold her head up everyday in a place where there’s so much hopelessness and despair and not be bitter. Being able to show her dignity, compassion, humility, forgiveness, and ability to move forward and triumphant over something like that, is beyond commendable.

Writer’s final thoughts: Every time I read or hear Tracy’s heart touching story, its quite reminiscent of the biblical figure Joseph. He was betrayed, lied on, and imprisoned for something he didn’t even have knowledge of, and served 13 years suffering an incredible injustice, but God showed favor and blessed him before, during and after his imprisonment.

Although Tracy was wrongfully convicted and incarcerated 20 years, she equates the experience itself, as a life lesson to be shared with others, so they can beware of toxic and unhealthy relationships with abusive partners. Now she’s able to be a service and blessing in many ways. Kudos to this amazing woman who’s committed and dedicated to helping others.

Related:

‘Trauma in the highest form’ The suffering, the culture of abuse and still harrowing plight of women in prison – Final Call News

Inmates Expose Abuse and Inhumane Conditions of Michigan Women’s Prison (yahoo.com)

http://www.easternecho.com/article/2022/01/ypsilanti-community-rallies-support-for-female-prisoners-at-huron-valley-correctional-facility

Tracy Cowan – FAMM

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MICH. HIGH COURT GRANTED ROOSEVELT PETTIFORD’S APPEAL 2 YRS. AGO; NO ACTION FROM CIU AFTER 4 YRS.

 Above: 2018 Rally  vs. Wrongful Convictions of  Pettiford, others. Prior to court hearings Aug. 3, 2018, families gathered outside the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in Detroit to protest wrongful convictions of loved ones including Roosevelt Pettiford. Afterwards, Pettiford received word that Wayne County Conviction Integrity Unit was taking his case. They have not yet announced any resolution.)

DPD PO Gerald Williams, AP Molly Kettler falsely claimed major direct eyewitness to murder gave a fake address to avoid testifying 

Prosecution’s main witness recanted ID at trial, but Judge Annette Berry allowed jury to hear previous false statement

No physical evidence at trial

Michigan Supreme Court granted Pettiford appeal March 18, 2020, denied Wayne Co. CIU’s request to delay ruling

Four years after Wayne Co. CIU took case, Pettiford remains among 1700 prisoners still on “wait” list 

By Diane Bukowski

(Ed. Note: VOD reviewed extensive documentation in Pettiford’s case, including court records and defense counsel filings. before publishing this story.)

July 3, 2022

   ROOSEVELT PETTIFORD       Family photo

DETROIT— Lifer Roosevelt Pettiford is one of 1700 applicants whose cases have been in limbo at the Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) of the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, in his case, for almost four years.

“No decision has been made,” Maria Miller, Chief of Communications for Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy, told VOD. “The case has not been presented to Prosecutor Worthy.”

But the Michigan Supreme Court granted Pettiford’s motion for relief from judgment tw0 years ago, on March 18, 2020. They ordered an evidentiary hearing on his claims that police lied about witness testimony that would have exonerated him. The high court refused to grant the CIU’s motion to suspend the ruling while it investigated the case.

That hearing has yet to happen. See MSC ruling at: http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Roosevelt-Pettiford-MSC-evidentiary-hearing-order-3-18-2020-1.pdf

Pettiford was convicted of the Nov. 1, 2005 murder of Vinson Ellington, 24, at a Marathon Gas station located at 2844 E. Grand Blvd. and Oakland Ave. Ellington was shot multiple times, first in the back while standing at a gas pump, and then as he lay on the ground.

Sheila Vincent, mother of Roosevelt Pettiford’s son.

The CIU initially took Pettiford’s case after the protest by Pettiford’s supporters and others (shown above). After the MSC ruling, they talked Pettiford and others into allowing them to continue their investigation prior to the evidentiary hearing granted by the high court.

“I’m here to free my son’s father because he is innocent,” Sheila Vincent told VOD during the 2018 protest. “He’s in there because of folks lying that they could not find the person that would set him free.”

She referred to the trial testimony of the Detroit Police Officer in Charge (OIC) of Pettiford’s case, Gerald Williams.

Williams, who died in 2016, claimed a direct eyewitness to the murder of Vinson Ellington Nov. 1, 2005, Joyci Riley, had given him a fake address to avoid testifying. Asst. Prosecutor Molly Kettler backed up his testimony to the judge and jury, citing “the overall  unwillingness of people to come to court and testify.”

That testimony was thoroughly debunked on appeal.

Police and court records show that Riley gave her 2005-06 address of 2500 W. Grand Blvd. to police during an interview directly after the killing.  That address is Young Manor,  a well-known 12-story federally subsidized property. Williams claimed the closest building to that address was the former GM Building at 3044 W. Grand Blvd., 1.2 miles away from Young Manor.  Riley also gave other addresses for her job and her church where she could be found. Williams did not testify that he actually went to any address to find her.

DPD interview with Joyci Riley shortly after murder of Lamont Ellington.

But the warrant for the case cites Yolanda Browning as the key witness, with no mention of Joyci Riley. In listings of witnesses, Riley is shown as an “unknown witness.”  But Riley was seen at the location of the murder by other prosecution witnesses, as well as a DPD officer who responded to the scene. Browning recanted her testimony at trial, where she said that her original statement to the police was false, and that she was angry because she claimed Pettiford had assaulted her niece in an unrelated incident. Another witness swore that Browning was at her home, not at the site of the killing when it happened.

In 2018, Private Investigator Scott Lewis obtained a sworn affidavit from Riley giving more extensive details regarding what she witnessed. See: http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/R-Pettiford-Ex-A-to-CIU-Spp-Summary-Joyci-Riley-Transcript-of-Second-Interview-2.pdf

(Top l to r) DPD Det. Gerald Williams, AP Molly Kettler; (Bottom) Young Manor, 2500 W. Grand Blvd. where key witness lived in 2005. Williams and Kettler claimed she gave them false address.

Police records show that officers at the crime scene talked eagerly to multiple individuals who claimed Pettiford had hurt or killed their  relatives in unrelated cases, even enlisting them as key witnesses although they did not see the murder and their  statements were nothing more than hearsay. Police devoted many pages to each hearsay report.

“Joyci Riley said that the killer was short and wore a mask,” paralegal Roberto Guzman, who worked on Pettiford’s appeal to the Supreme Court, told VOD. “Her description of him wearing a mask was something the jury never knew. It undercut Yolanda Browning’s two statements to police falsely identifying Roosevelt as the killer.”

Riley elaborated on her witness statement in a sworn affidavit obtained by private investigator Scott Lewis in 2018.

Browning told police pre-trial that the killer had no mask or head covering and that she clearly saw his face. Other prosecution witnesses said the killer did have his face obscured. Browning also claimed the victim was shot first in the face, a version contradicted by autopsy reports.

Roberto Guzman with Sherena Cotton, mother of exoneree Marvin Cotton, in 2016. Guzman has worked on that case and many others for decades.

“No one has ever testified that Pettiford killed the victim.” Guzman said. “The only evidence before the jury was Browning’s out of court statement, and this unsworn document made the difference between a guilty or a not guilty verdict. This is why it was so important for Sgt. Williams and the prosecutor not to have Ms. Riley come to court and testify, because her testimony that the killer wore a hood and had on a mask would have caused a not guilty verdict.  What you have in this case is a witness and a prosecutor who lied to a sitting jury in a capital case.”

Since Pettiford’s trial, other witnesses have come forward, one of whom said that he saw the actual shooting by a man he named. That man is now deceased.

Valerie Newman, Director of the Wayne Co. Prosecutor’s Conviction Integrity Unit, has communicated frequently with Pettiford’s attorney Cornell Pettiford (his uncle) and paralegal Guzman during the years his case has been under review by them. In a recent email, Newman told Atty. Pettiford that her review of the case was completed, and it was awaiting a decision by Prosecutor Worthy, a claim that was denied by Maria Miller on Worthy’s behalf in the statement at opening of the story.

Polygrapher James Hoppe (l) CIU Dir. Valerie Newman (r)

The CIU required Pettiford to pass a polygraph exam, as they frequently have done with other applicants for exoneration. Newman recommended polygrapher James Hoppe, a  former FBI agent, for a second exam after the first was inconclusive.  Defense Atty. Pettiford hired him, and he conducted a second polygraph exam.

But he allegedly revealed the results to Newman,  although he should have gone instead to defense Atty. Pettiford. Afterwards, Pettiford passed a third polygraph exam with a different examiner.

Hoppe is currently at the center of a dispute in an Oakland County murder case, where the defendant Floyd Galloway was convicted of the 2016 murder of Danielle Stislicki, who worked in the office building where Galloway was a security guard. Hoppe, hired by Galloway’s defense attorney, allegedly revealed the results of his polygraph to a personal friend, who then revealed them to the Farmington Hills Police Chief Charles Nebus. Nebus used the results to get warrants to search Galloway’s car, phone and home. His defense attorney is calling for the suppression of that evidence.

On its application, the Wayne County CIU says, “All claimants who file papers with CIU should be aware, however, that the evidence developed by CIU during its investigation will be shared with other units within the Prosecutor’s Office.” This disclaimer is at the end of the application, but many individuals believe the CIU is independent of the Prosecutor’s Office.

Philly DA Larry Krasner with exonerees from his CIU unit.

The CIU Application used by Philadelphia D.A. Larry Krasner includes a much clearer caveat: “The prosecutors in the CIU at the District Attorney’s Office do not represent you and cannot offer you legal advice. A prosecutor cannot legally or ethically be your attorney. If you do not understand any of the above, you should consult an attorney immediately.”

Pettiford says he is currently weighing his options as he approaches his 16th year of incarceration. He no longer faces Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Annette Berry if he opts to continue with the court proceedings and leave the CIU review.

He is now on the docket of Judge Paul Cusick, appointed to the bench by former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder in 2016, Ricardo Guzman told VOD. Judge Cusick graduated from Notre Dame University and got his law degree at Wayne State University. His Ballotpedia website note says he was an assistant attorney general prior to becoming judge.

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 VOD’s staff lives either on limited fixed incomes or is incarcerated. We are not paid; we publish the newspaper pro bono. Help keep us afloat by chipping in so stories on this Prison Nation and Police State, and related matters, can keep coming! Any amount is appreciated.

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MICH. LIFER NOSAKHARE ONUMONU WON NEW TRIAL BEFORE JUDGE TRACY GREEN DEC. 2021, FIGHT GOES ON

LIFER NOSAKHARE ONOMONU (bottom) REACTS WITH JOYFUL TEARS DEC. 20, 2021 AS JUDGE TRACY E. GREEN GRANTS MOTION FOR RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT

Judge Tracy E. Green granted  Michigan lifer Nosakhare Onumonu’s motion for new trial Dec. 21, 2021, after his pro se presentation 

Through FOIA, Onumonu acquired substantial evidence favorable to defense that had been suppressed by DPD, prosecution

Judge Green patiently examined evidence, agreed with Onumonu that if it had it been presented at trial, acquittal more likely than not

Judge Green currently on paid administrative leave pending resolution of JTC complaint, can still dispose of matters on cases previously in progress

Next hearing date July 27, 2022

By Diane Bukowski

June 29, 2022

Nosakhare Onumonu with (l to r) Niece Deserae, Mother Denise, and Sister Lisa.

DETROIT — “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit,” O.J. Simpson’s attorney Johnnie Cochran famously told his client’s jury regarding a glove found at the scene of the 1995 murder of Nicole Brown. It didn’t fit, and Simpson was acquitted.

Nosakhare Onumonu, convicted in 2015 of the 1999 murder of 94-year-old Helen  Klocek of Plymouth, MI asks a different question about the glove used to convict him–did it exist? The glove doesn’t appear in police department criminal records until 2007, and was not examined for trace DNA evidence until 2011, according to reports viewed by VOD.

The Detroit Police Department sent the glove in question to the Michigan State Police Forensic Lab for what testing of what is known as “touch trace” DNA evidence only after Onumonu was belatedly identified as a suspect in 2011.

“This whole case revolves around a glove and then it’s built on inference after inference after inference,” Onomuno told Third Circuit Court Judge Tracy E. Green at the opening of arguments on his motion for relief from judgment in 2021.

(L) Glove allegedly found in victim’s car in Onumono case; (r) Johnnie Cochran with gloves he cited in O.J. acquittal.

Acting in pro per, Onumonu continued with a powerful presentation on his case which countered subsequent media accounts depicting a depraved Black man preying on an elderly white woman. (e.g. DNA on glove helps solve 1999 Detroit cold case (clickondetroit.com).

Murder victim Klocek lived in Plymouth, Michigan and had gone out for lunch at a local restaurant before her murder. Her body was found in an alleyway behind Joy Rd. in Detroit on March 2, 1999. Her white Ford Escort car, which had been torched, was found Mar. 4 several miles away in a church parking lot on Grand River.

Onumonu’s  presentation centered around his discovery of evidence that had been suppressed during his trial, in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). That U.S. Supreme Court ruling and others which followed in its wake said all exculpatory evidence (favorable to the defense) must be promptly disclosed by police and prosecution.

In his case, a Freedom of Information Act request produced documentation hidden from his defense, largely in files from the Plymouth Police Department, including (see below).

On Dec. 21, 2021, Judge Green granted Onomonu’s motion for a new trial, acknowledging three of his four claims: fraud upon the court by a detective, perjury by a detective that was significant to his conviction, and a Brady violation by withholding exculpatory evidence. She noted that it appeared Sgt. Henry Ellis and other Detroit Police officers had indeed lied about the existence of other suspects, and that suppression of evidence of those suspects and the 1999 eyewitness sketch made it more likely than not under Brady that a jury would  have acquitted him if they had seen that evidence.

DPD Sgt. Henry Ellis, from his FB page.

Judge Green had several more hearings afterwards, with the prosecution trying to say that an evidentiary hearing instead of an immediate new trial was the proper relief.  The last date she ruled on the case was June 9, 2022 according to court records. Since that time, she has been on a paid administrative leave while she resolves a Judicial Tenure Commission complaint that is pending before the Michigan Supreme Court.

VOD does not have responses from the prosecutor’s office to Onumonu’s filings, as they are not currently available to the public. The Third Judicial Circuit Court building, where the records are held, is closed, with no access to the Clerk’s office to request publicly available court files. No links to the documents are provided on the court’s website.

Also due to this restriction, which violates various state and federal laws, VOD currently cannot  review the actual court file in this case for complete accuracy of most issues reported in this story.

Sgt. Michael Russell

Among the evidence hidden in police files were progress reports from Sgt. Ellis, who handled the case from its outset in 1999. During his presentation, Onumonu cited Ellis’ testimony at his trial that he did not submit the glove in question for DNA trace evidence testing during the time after the murder, because he had no suspects. However, Onumonu said, police progress reports from 1999 showed that Ellis was investigating two other suspects.

Onumonu has filed motions previously requesting that the glove be barred from evidence due to chain of custody issues, but the judges on his case denied the motions.

DPD Progress Report by Sgt. Henry Ellis dated April 30. 1999 citing one of two suspects in the murder case.

Prosecutors including the Wayne County Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) also produced graphs which claimed that Onumonu was working at a plant near to Ms. Klocek’s apartment, where they said the type of glove allegedly found in her car was commonly used by multiple workers. In the graphs, they noted the short distance from his mother’s house in Detroit to the locations where Ms. Klocek’s car and body were separately found.

Wayne Co. AP Jason Williams and Valerie Newman, then a SADO attorney, at 2016 hearing.

Onumonu says he was not living with his mother, but in Dearborn Heights at the time. The Wayne Co. CIU reviewed his case twice earlier, according to Onumonu and his mother, and rejected it for further processing. They say that CIU director Valerie Newman showed up at an initial hearing in front of Judge Green, but that Onumonu rejected her participation.

Plymouth Twp. police reported 1n 1999 that they had been investigating multiple burglaries there, many of them involving senior citizens.

Police said the burglaries had taken place in apartments that were temporarily unoccupied while the residents had gone out to work or other matters. They cautioned residents to watch out for cars cruising slowly in the neighborhoods and for any ‘suspicious’ people on foot, and report those to the police.

Suppressed 1999 sketch of purse snatching suspect in case.

One eyewitness saw TV coverage of the case in 1999 and contacted police, saying she saw a woman resembling Mrs. Klocek driving with a Black man, in a white car. She was shown a composite sketch of a purse-snatching suspect and said he looked similar to the man. She described him as light-complected, likely with light-colored eyes.

That witness from 1999 was brought forward in 2012 to testify against Onumonu at two preliminary examinations. Both resulted in dismissals of the charges due to the years that had passed since the witness said she sighted the suspect, and the witness’ inability to identify Onumonu in court, among other factors.

Onomonu says that he filed a Brady motion to dismiss the charges again, which was circumvented when the judge in the case at that time privately met with defense and prosecution attorneys in his offices and decided to remand the case back to the 36th District Court for more proceedings.

Onumonu had been convicted on an armed robbery charge in 1999, and was sentenced to two to five years in prison. He was being paroled in 2o11 after serving his time, when police and prosecutors intervened in the parole with an arrest warrant in the Klocek case, and he was remanded to custody again. Court records show that he remained in prison for four more years, while the proceedings in that case took place. He was not tried in the Klocek case until 2015.

WAYNE 3RD JUDICIAL CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE TRACY E. GREEN

Judge Tracy E. Green

Third Judicial Circuit Court Corporate Counsel Richard Lynch told VOD, “Judge Green is currently on administrative leave as approved by SCAO [State Court Administrator’s Office.]  Judge Giovan is the visiting judge assigned to her docket.  Formal complaints issued by the Judicial Tenure Commission are matters of public record.”

In 2019, the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission (JTC) brought charges against Judge Green stemming from a custody dispute between her son and his wife during divorce proceedings. Custody was granted to her son, who later was convicted of child abuse and sent to prison.

The JTC charges said Judge Green did not report her knowledge of the abuse. They were based on the testimony of the two young children to the Judicial Tenure Commission. Currently, the Michigan Supreme Court, the only entity that can actually remove a judge from the bench, has the charges under review.

According to public filings on the JTC website at Welcome To Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission, Judge Green is represented by the Bloomfield Hills-based firm of Plunket Cooney, and is vigorously contesting the charges, which were initiated while she was running for election.  As in Onumonu’s case, the mainstream media has indiscriminately smeared Judge Green without citing her publicly available responses. As a sitting judge, she cannot respond publicly to the charges lodged against her.

Screenshot of Nosakhare Onumonu’s hearing June 29; top left is Judge William Giovan. Atty. Peter Ellenson is currently assisting as defense counsel, AP Brittney Taratuta is at top right.During a scheduled hearing today on the case, Judge William Giovan said, “I was instructed by the Chief Judge that all matters that had been submitted to Judge Green and argued and were awaiting only a decision from Judge Green were to be decided by Judge Green. This case calls for Judge Green to rule on it. I agree with the defendant that it seems she issued an inconsistent order. I’m going going to recap what’s happened today and tell Judge Green that the parties are awaiting further action on her part on this matter.”

Judge Giovan set another meeting date for July 27 and said he would send copies to both the prosecution and the defense of his written request to Judge Green.

 VOD’s staff lives either on limited fixed incomes or is incarcerated. We are not paid; we publish the newspaper pro bono. Help keep us afloat by chipping in so stories on this Prison Nation and Police State, and related matters, can keep coming! Any amount is appreciated.

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CELEBRATE JUNETEENTH! FREE DARRELL EWING, ALL OTHERS WRONGFULLY CONVICTED, UNJUSTLY SENTENCED


On JUNETEENTH, 2 MILLION STILL ENSLAVED

FREE DARRELL EWING, DERRICO SEARCY

Ewing’s pre-trial motions for bond, judicial notice of  tainted ID testimony at first trial  are now before Wayne Co. Judge Darnella Williams-Clayborne

Motion for bond cites People v. Davis, landmark 2021 ruling by state appellate court that bond in capital cases can be granted. COA 354927 PEOPLE OF MI V REGINALD LAMARR DAVIS Opinion – Authored – Published 04/22/2021 (michigan.gov)

Young relatives of Tamerra Washington participated  in rally of hundreds at Frank Murphy Hall June 4, 2021.

Ewing, co-defendant Derrico Searcy won new trial Oct. 22, 2020, ten years after conviction of 2009 J.B. Watson murder

FBI told AP Kam Towns before first trial they had reliable evidence another man committed the crime, she ignored them.

Tyree Washington’s 2017 Mirandized confession, given to MSP detective, hidden in official files till 2021

Ewing, others held in Wayne Co. Jail beyond speedy trial limits file federal lawsuit vs. Wayne Co. Sheriff Raphael Washington and WCCC  Chief Judge Timothy Kenny challenging illegal detentions and torturous jail conditions. — DETAILS ON THIS TO BE PROVIDED IN STORY TO COME.

By Diane Bukowski

June 20, 2022

DETROIT — Millions celebrated this country’s first Juneteenth holiday this week,  commemorating the liberation of enslaved peoples after the Civil War with fireworks, dance, song, and prayer. But under the provisions of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, over two million people remain enslaved in U.S. prisons as a result of mass incarceration, the majority of them Black, descendants of those enslaved peoples.

Among the two million are Darrell Ewing and Derrico Searcy. Wayne Third Circuit Court Judge Darnella Williams-Claybourne is currently reviewing Darrell Ewing’s motions for pre-trial bond, to free him while Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy pursues the case against him and his co-defendant Derrico Searcy. They were charged for the Dec. 2009 murder of J.B. Watson on Detroit’s east side. He has also filed a motion for judicial notice of false pre-trial identification evidence in the case.

Top: Darrell Ewing (l), Derrico Searcy (r) Bottom: Wayne Co. Pros. Kym Worthy

On Oct. 22, 2020, an Appeals Court overturned their convictions and ordered a new trial. On Aug. 30, 2021, defense attorneys revealed Tyree Washington’s Mirandized confession to the murder, given to a Michigan State Police detective in 2017, and hidden in the prosecutor’s files while the defendants’ appeals have been ongoing.

Wayne Co. Asst. Prosecutor Kam Towns, who quietly retired June 1 of this year, was the chief architect of the case, basing it on unproven assumptions that the murder was gang-related, leading to jury misconduct on social media about gangs. State courts overturned the verdict on that basis. Proceedings for a new trial in the case are currently paused, pending a Michigan Court of Appeals ruling on Ewing’s interlocutory appeal of his motion for dismissal due to Brady disclosure violations and other issues.

Ewing’s current motion for appeal bond says,  “From the start of this case–and this writer is talking about a decade ago, July 21, 2010, our nation’s highest and most respected government agency–the FBI–alerted the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, that a mistake was likely taking place,”

“To show, Agents brought forth one of their top informants. He was taken in front of multiple grand juries about the present matter and found to be credible… Christopher Richardson disclosed that his very own blood cousin William Beal and and [his] federally charged co-defendant, Tyree Washington was/is responsible for the instant crimes and charges presently in front of this court.” 

The motion is based in part on a landmark ruling from the Michigan’s appellate courts. See: COA 354927 PEOPLE OF MI V REGINALD LAMARR DAVIS Opinion – Authored – Published 04/22/2021 (michigan.gov)

Ewing’s motion for bond points out,

“”Pursuant to Const 1963, Art 1, § 15, a defendant is entitled to have bail set by the trial court except in certain circumstances, such as when defendant is charged with murder and the proof of defendant’s guilt is evident or the presumption great, Davis at HN 18. . . .it is becoming crystal clear to many that the proofs of Defendant’s innocence is evident. This Court has in front of it, a Mirandized confession, multiple acts of suppression, and polygraph results to bolster Ewing’s innocence.”

The motion also argues that further confinement in the Wayne County Jail under torturous conditions including the spread of COVID-19 endangers Ewing’s life. It cites Ewing’s family and community ties, including the support of hundreds of letters in his federal pleadings for compassionate release, in front of U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Murphy.

Judge Murphy ruled June 9,  “I will appoint counsel from the Federal Community Defenders Office to represent Defendant for his compassionate release and resentencing motions. . . .The Court expects that Defendant’s appointed counsel will file a new motion for compassionate release and resentencing after the en banc Sixth Circuit issues a ruling in McCall.” See  http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Darrell-Ewing-Appointment-of-Federal-Defender-2-22-cr-20178-2.pdf and  http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Darrell-Ewing-Murphy-order-6-9-22-United_States_of_America_v_Gaskin_et_al__miedce-11-20178__0541.0-2.pdf.

In his “Motion to Take Judicial Notice of Key Facts that Lend Credence to the Granting of Bond,” Ewing notes that eyewitness identifications are the most common factor leading to to wrongful convictions in the U.S. Citing trial transcripts, he breaks down factors in the eyewitness identifications at his trial by Raymond Love and his wife Jendayi Love, who were stopped in traffic at the scene of the shooting of J.B. Watson.

Raymond Love: Saw shooter for “a few brief seconds.” In photo line-ups, only said “he looks close,” “never 100% sure,” “out of all the people in the pictures, he was him.” At trial, he said he was “guessing” at face,” “viewed the shooter through the rearview mirror while leaning on my wife’s lap,”  “my first and immediate selection was photo #2, a wrong person,” fdmet with prosecutors during trial “to get their ducks in order.”

Jendayi Love: viewed shooter through “the rearview mirror,” “for a few seconds,” “two quick seconds,” “took close to five minutes” to select Ewing’s photo, “FELT like it was the shooter,” and her height “made it a little difficult to see through the rearview mirror.”

Below is expert analysis of such claims by lawyers and legal experts on the podcast series “Undisclosed” at Undisclosed Podcast (undisclosed-podcast.com)It is one of a series of six podcasts on the Ewing/Searcy case and focuses on issues related to the identifications made by the Loves.

STORY ON PRISONERS LAWSUIT V. WAYNE CO. JAIL TO COME

Wayne Co. Sheriff Raphael Washington (l), WCCC Chief Judge Timothy Kenny

Ewing and dozens of others held in the Wayne Co. Jail far past state and federal mandates on speedy trials, have filed a federal lawsuit against Wayne County Sheriff Raphael Washington and WCCC Chief Judge Timothy Kenny challenging illegal detentions and torturous conditions in the jail. Numerous affidavits from the men detailing their claims are attached to the lawsuits.

For an overview of Darrell Ewing’s battle for freedom from his wrongful conviction, listen to Maggie Freleng, nationally acclaimed journalist in this “Unjust/Unsolved” podcast. Previous VOD stories on these cases are listed below that.

RELATED: 

VIDEO VISITS TO INMATES AT WAYNE COUNTY JAILS SHUT DOWN, ACCESS TO FAMILIES, COURTS CURTAILED | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

UNLAWFUL, UNJUST! RALLY THURSDAY MAR. 17 TO FREE WRONGLY HELD PRISONERS; OPEN VISITS, COURTS, FILES | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

FAMILIES MARCH FOR MEN HELD WITHOUT TRIAL UP TO 4 YEARS IN WAYNE CO. JAIL; DEMAND “OPEN THE COURTS” | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

DID PROS. KYM WORTHY AND DPD SUPPRESS KILLER’S CONFESSION IN EWING/SEARCY CASE? HEARING DEC. 1 | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

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

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

8 JUDGES SAID EWING, SEARCY DENIED ‘FAIR TRIAL’ IN 2010; KYM WORTHY: WE WILL PRESENT SAME CASE MAY 19, 2021 | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

DARRELL EWING, DERRICO SEARCY IN DETROIT COURT APRIL 13, NEW TRIAL ORDERED BY 8 STATE, U.S. JUDGES | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought 

APPEALS CT. UPHOLDS NEW TRIAL ORDER IN ‘GANG’ SOCIAL MEDIA CONVICTIONS OF DARRELL EWING, DERRICO SEARCY | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought  Continue reading

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ADVOCATES CONDEMN MICHIGAN AG’S DENIAL OF RELIEF FOR LIFER TEMUJIN KENSU, SAY CIU HAS BETRAYED ALL

Kensu’s defense attorney Imran Syed of the Michigan Innocence Clinic appears in several sections of the video above, as “Kensu’s attorney.”

Michigan AG Dana Nessel’s Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) denied lifer Temujin Kensu’s application for exoneration May 17

Valerie Newman, head of the Wayne County CIU,  acting as Nessel’s “Special Asst. AG,” wrote the denial letter

What does Newman’s role in denying relief to Kensu mean for 1,700 applicants waiting in the Wayne County CIU?

Kensu was 400 miles away from Port Huron, the site of the 1986 murder of Scott Macklen with which he is charged, according to multiple witnesses

“. . .Kensu could not have committed and did not in fact commit the crime for which the state is taking away the entire rest of his life, now 35 years on.” U.S. Reps. Andy Levin and Rashida Tlaib, Michigan Sen. Stephanie Chang

David Shelton, whose DNA as a Black man ruled out the crime of rape and murder for which he has served 28 years, is among 1000+ AG/CIU applicants–what is planned in their cases?

TEMUJIN AND PAULA KENSU CELEBRATED XMAS 2021 WITH THIS CARD.

By Diane Bukowski

May 30, 2022

Temujin Kensu with fiancée Paula Kensu

DETROIT–The denial of relief for Michigan lifer Temujin Kensu, now 59, by state Attorney General (AG) Dana Nessel’s Conviction Integrity Unit on May 17 has brought about a firestorm of support for Kensu and scathing criticism of the CIU’s action.

It was not based on an evaluation of his ACTUAL INNOCENCE, but instead on AG guidelines derived from state court rules, despite the Attorney General’s broad discretionary powers. Those rules are superseded by state law MCL 770.1, which says a judge can grant a new trial “when it appears to the court that justice has not been done.”

Paula Kensu, Temujin’s fiancée, called the denial “a duplicitous action intended to deny Temujin Kensu freedom from his wrongful conviction/life sentence for a murder that absolutely everybody knows he did not commit.”

Multiple witnesses have testified that Kensu was in Escanaba, 400 miles away from Port Huron, the site of the murder for which he is charged, when it happened.

Kensu has been in prison since 1986, convicted of the murder of Scott Macklem in the parking lot of St. Clair Community College in Port Huron. Macklem’s fiancée was Kensu’s former girlfriend. The prosecution claimed the motive was jealousy. To refute the testimony of numerous witnesses at trial that Kensu was 400 miles away when the murder happened, Asst. Prosecutor Robert Cleland, now a U.S. District Court Judge, claimed Kensu, who was penniless, “could have” chartered a plane and flown to Port Huron to kill Macklem.

(l to r) US Reps. Andy Levin, Rashida Tlaib; MI Sen. Stephanie Chang

U.S. District Court Judge Denise Page Hood (now Chief Judge) cited prosecutorial misconduct as one reason for granting Kensu’s “habeas” appeal. It was later overturned by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on a minor technicality.

In 2020, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer denied clemency to Kensu, based on a recommendation of the Michigan Parole Board, which generally focuses only on the original charge brought against a prisoner.

On May 23, U.S. Reps. Andy Levin, D-Bloomfield Township, and Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, and Michigan Sen. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit told Whitmer in a letter:

“We were deeply disappointed to learn that the Michigan Attorney General’s Conviction Integrity Unit, known as the CIU, has declined to pursue the release of Temujin Kensu, an innocent Michigander who has been in prison for more than three decades. . . despite no physical evidence connecting him to the murder and several vetted eyewitnesses who place him more than 400 miles away from the scene of the crime, Kensu remains imprisoned.”

They continued, “As longtime advocates for social justice, we believe that we must do more for Temujin Kensu and all wrongfully imprisoned individuals across the globe. In Kensu’s case, all available options for relief must be pursued. The court allows for relief based on actual innocence and, Article V, Section 14 of the Michigan Constitution confers upon our Governor the power to ‘grant reprieves, commutations and pardons after convictions for all offenses, except cases of impeachment.’ We pray that those with the power to grant relief conduct a full review and grant relief to Mr. Kensu.”

Atty. Valerie Newman 

Valerie Newman’s May 17 letter to Kensu’s defense attorney, Imran Syed of the Michigan Innocence Project, said she had been appointed as special assistant to the AG to review Kensu’s case due to a “conflict” within the CIU involving its Director Robyn Frankel.  She declared Kensu’s case had been closed without action.

VOD contacted the AG’s office for further information on the conflict, but received no response.

Newman wrote: “The AG guidelines mandate there must be new evidence supporting factual innocence. New evidence means evidence not at all considered at trial or during post-conviction appeals.”

http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Valerie-Newman-AG-letter.pdf

Valerie Newman also heads the Wayne County  Conviction Integrity Unit, which is reviewing the cases of 1,700 applicants, many of whom have been waiting for years. Her action on Tensu’s case throws into question what will happen to other Wayne Co. CIU applicants.

That unit is already under attack from the City of Detroit Police Department and its Corporation Counsel. Complaining of the impact of the millions in settlements on the City’s budget, they claim some of the unit’s 31 “exonerations” to date are not valid. The unit’s own statements that many of those releases do not involve exonerations, but are due to unfair trials and other issues, has complicated the issue.

Newman’s stance on Kensu’s case runs counter to what Robyn Frankel  told “Proving Innocence,” an organization originally set up by former TV news reporter Bill Proctor.

“We are aghast and disgusted with the CIU and your decision not to grant justice to a wholly innocent man, Temujin Kensu (aka., Fredrick Freeman),” said William T. Branham, Jr. President, and B. David Sanders Vice-President, of Proving Innocence in a letter to AG Nessel.

“This is unconscionable and unacceptable and a betrayal of your claim the CIU would fight for true justice for the wrongfully convicted. That is hardly the case and the CIU is being  revealed as an empty vessel that will continue to do very little on behalf of those wrongfully convicted by our justice system.”

They continued, “Most disturbing, is that we and so many others were misled by the CIU in its mission and intentions. Now, and only after your CIU’s review of Mr. Kensu’s case has concluded, we learn you have completely changed the definition of “new evidence”.

The two officials said Robyn Frankel had told them in a text, “Evidence which was not presented to the jury (though it might have been known at the time of trial) may be considered ‘new evidence’ for CIU purposes. . .Also, any evidence which illustrates that a person is innocent of the offense will be considered by the unit. This would include police or prosecutor misconduct where that misconduct implicates a person’s factual innocence.”

http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Proving-Innocence-Letter-to-Nessel-re-Temujin-Kensu.pdf

But in her letter to Syed, Newman wrote: “The AG guidelines mandate there must be new evidence supporting factual innocence. New evidence means evidence not at all considered at trial or during post-conviction appeals.”

AMICUS BRIEF IN PEOPLE V. SWAIN  CAN RESOLVE ISSUES IN KENSU’S CASE, THOUSANDS MORE WITH ACTUAL INNOCENCE CLAIMS

Lorinda Swain after her final exoneration. 

In 2015, nine esteemed prosecutors filed an amicus brief as requested by the Michigan Supreme Court in the case of People v. Lorinda Swain SC: 150994 (Mich. May. 18, 2016). It points out that, despite complex Michigan Court Rules regarding “new evidence,” Michigan has an alternative and superseding standard for granting justice in actual innocence cases.

The current and former prosecutors were John Smietanka, Thomas Cranmer, James Samuels, Thomas Rombach, Gerald Gleeson II, Saul Green, Fred Mester, Anthony Badovinac, and Brandon Hultink.

After beginning the brief with the statement in red above, they write in part,  “. . .MCL 770.1 stands as a substantive ground for relief independent of any provided by the Michigan Court Rules. The State of Michigan passed MCL 770.1 into law to correct wrongful convictions within the State of Michigan, by providing substantive relief from judgment from trial courts ‘when it appears to the court that justice has not been done.’ Statutes passed into law in the State of Michigan may not be overridden by court rules. . . MCL 770.1 stands as a substantive law independent of the Michigan Court Rules.”

They add. . .”MCL 770.2(4) states that a court of record may always “grant a motion for a new trial for good cause shown.” The brief eventually recommends that the state Supreme Court grant Swain’s motion, which it did, resulting in her exoneration.

See brief at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Amicus-Brief-for-Michigan-Supreme-Court-re-Lorinda-Swain-Smietanka-et-al.pdf.

Isn’t it interesting, that John Smietanka, former U.S. attorney for the Western District of Michigan, and Saul Green, former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, and seven other prosecutors, hired a law firm to present their opinion on behalf of DEFENDANTS, not just Swain, but ALL Michigan defendants in this matter of ACTUAL INNOCENCE?

Related stories:

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

Nessel draws criticism from supporters over review of ’86 murder conviction (detroitnews.com)

Finley: ‘I’m sentenced to die in this place.’ Temujin Kensu needs help (detroitnews.com)

https://voiceofdetroit.net/2020/05/31/exposed-racist-frame-up-of-david-shelton-by-oakland-county-in-1993-rape-case/

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 VOD’s staff lives either on limited fixed incomes or is incarcerated. We are not paid; we publish the newspaper pro bono. Help keep us afloat by chipping in so stories on this Prison Nation and Police State, and related matters, coming! Any amount is appreciated.

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(Contact editor for details on other ways to send funds, at 313-825-6126 or diane_bukowski@hotmail.com.)

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