Wayne Co. Pros. Kym Worthy said on NBC News that she is working to overturn wrongful convictions, but Darrell Ewing and Derrico Searcy remain locked up after 11 yrs.
DETROIT— Defense attorneys for Darrell Ewing and Derrico Searcy are expected to argue in court Wed. December 1 that the two should be freed because Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s office and Detroit police knowingly hid another man’s detailed, Mirandized confession to the 2009 murder in their case, given to the Michigan State Police in 2017.
Defense attorneys said in an Aug. 30 hearing that the prosecutor violated Brady v. Maryland, a 1963 U.S. Supreme Court ruling mandating provision of all “exculpatory” evidence (tending or serving to clear from alleged fault or guilt.) They also charged prosecutorial misconduct.
“I feel positive of victory, and am in good spirits, despite conditions in the jail,” Ewing told VOD in a call from the Wayne County Jail. He and Searcy are being held there 13 months after their convictions were vacated by the Michigan Court of Appeals last October, after previous rulings by multiple federal and state courts that they did not receive a fair trial.
Protesters outside the failed Wayne County Jail site across from the current jail in 2017.
Ewing reported that they and others there have periodically had no water due to main breaks, and no hot food. He said the jail is filled to overflowing, with many prisoners sleeping on the floor of the holding area. Many of the hundreds of mostly Black men there are being held pre-trial for longer than the six months mandated by law.
But Worthy says she intends to re-try the pair using the evidence presented at the original trial, despite the backlog of other cases.
“I read [Tyree] Washington his Miranda warning,” MSP Det. Sergeant Eric B. Johnson wrote in a four-page report detailing the confession, given in the inspector’s office at Michigan’s Chippewa Correctional Facility on Feb. 2, 2017.
“Washington agreed to waive his rights and speak with me. . . [He]Washington stated he murdered a subject by the name of J. B. Watson, also known as ‘June Bug,’ a black male, approximately 2o years old, in 2009.”
Johnson said he asked Washington why he had come forward at that time.
This 2016 letter from Tyree Washington to the MSP was included with the report they sent to Prosecutor, Detroit Police and other agencies.
“He stated two individuals had gone to jail for a crime they did not commit,” Johnson wrote.
“He stated the names of those subjects are Darrel Gwing [sic] and Derrico Searcy and advised they had gone to prison for killing Watson in early 2010. Washington also said that as part of his practiced religion, he was advised through the teachings of Islam that ‘in order to seek true forgiveness you have to be truly honest with yourself and God (and you must come forward with all the wrongs you have committed).”
Washington previously submitted multiple written affidavits confessing to the murder. Private investigator Scott Lewis audiotaped his confession on Aug. 1, 2017 (below), six months after the confession he gave to MSP Det. Sgt. Johnson. Legal experts say the MSP confession carries much more weight at trial since Washington was advised of his Miranda rights prior to giving it and he gave it to a law enforcement agency.
MDB · Tyree Washington 8.1.17.MP3Det. Sgt. Johnson said he videotaped the confession, then submitted his report and the videotape to Det. Sgt. David Boike at the MSP Metro South Post who said he would forward it to the Detroit Police Department and “violent crimes and cold case task forces” for follow-up.
Washington is currently serving a term of 50-plus years in Federal prison for a separate conviction in an armed car-jacking that took place March 14, 2010, two and a half months after the Watson murder.
During a hearing Aug. 30, defense attorneys Blasé Kearney and Lillian Diallo told Wayne County 3rd Judicial Circuit Court Judge Darnella Williams-Clayborne that the defense had not seen the four-page confession and other documents until August, 2021. Asst. Prosecutor Kam Towns then provided discovery records under Brady v. Maryland after failing in her attempt to get them sealed.
Washington’s statement to Johnson included a detailed history of an ongoing conflict among him, Watson, and a third man that began in the summer of 2009, over a woman he and the third man were dating. He said Watson and the third man fired guns at him and others during two occasions prior to his shooting Watson at Harper and Van Dyke in Detroit.
1995 Oldsmobile Aurora
Washington’s detailed description of the final incident, including the turquoise Aurora he was in, driven by a fourth man with a woman in the front passenger seat, jibes with testimony from multiple witnesses at Ewing and Searcy’s trial in 2010.
According to a police LIEN report which surfaced along with Washington’s confession, the car belonged to the woman he said was in the passenger seat when he shot Watson.
According to trial transcripts, Atty. Otis Culpepper, who represented Searcy at trial, reported to trial judge Carole Youngblood that the woman confirmed details of the killing and her presence there in an interview with him. She was subpoenaed to testify, but did not appear, telling Culpepper that she feared retaliation.
Culpepper said further that he notified Theopilus WIlliams, DPD’s officer in charge (OIC) of the case, to ask for his assistance in the interview, but was ignored.
Pointing to Williams and AP Kam Towns during the trial, a federal witness testified in court that he told both Williams and Towns that he knew Washington committed the crime, during meetings set up by U.S. attorneys. (See box at left.)
Searcy’s defense attorney Blase Kearney contended Aug. 30. “. . . 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.”
That investigation happened prior to the dramatic testimony of trial juror Kathleen Byrnes during an evidentiary hearing held in front of Wayne Co. 3rd Circuit Judge Michael Hathaway in 2019.
Byrnes detailed what Hathaway ruled were the illegal efforts of other jury members to research the case on Facebook and the internet generally, in line with the prosecution’s claim that the killing of J.B. Watson was gang-related. Byrnes said pressure from the others caused her to retract her “not guilty” vote.
Hathaway ruled, “[I]t is just inescapable from Byrnes’s testimony that the outside influences, the inappropriate influences caused her to change her mind,” Hathaway said.
“There is just no way to get around that based on her testimony. And that the information, particularly about gang culture, gang hierarchy, gang signs, et cetera, were highly prejudicial. . .”
At trial, Judge Youngblood barred testimony from a DPD gang “expert” who’s training primarily included research from Facebook and the internet. Ewing and Searcy’s supporters said they hope the Court of Appeals ruling that affirmed Hathaway’s opinion may lead to the review of hundreds of convictions obtained through the use of untrained “gang” experts by the Wayne County Prosecutor and the Detroit Police Department.
Supporters of Darrell Ewing and Derrico Searcy celebrate after new trial granted on Oct. 24, 2019. Two years later, they remain in jail.
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.
VOD must pay $435.00, our quarterly webhosting fee, on Dec. 19, 2021. Our staff either lives on limited fixed incomes or is incarcerated. Help keep us afloat by chipping in to keep stories on this Prison Nation and Police State coming!
BREAKING NEWS:Henry Montgomery, juvenile lifer in Montgomery v. Alabama 2016 US Supreme Court ruling that led to thousands of JLWOP re-sentencings, paroled after 57 yrs. He was convicted of killing a deputy sheriff.
FREE EFREN PAREDES, Jr. and remaining Michigan juvenile lifers now!
Efren Paredes was 15 when he was charged with the murder of a white store manager in Berrien County.
Michigan Court of Appeals cited the passage above from Miller v. Alabama in overturning 2015 JLWOP sentence of Victor Garay of Kalamazoo County.
To date, 94% of Michigan juvenile life sentences have been replaced with terms of years, after U.S. Supreme Court rulings outlawing JLWOP
Michigan appeals courts have overturned many of the remainder, most recently that of Victor Garay of Kalamazoo County
Paredes arrested at 15 in 1989 in majority-white St. Joseph for death of storeowner, has long maintained his innocence.
Berrien County courts, cops, have long targeted Benton Harbor’s Black and Latin youths; investigation of 1991 death of Eric McGinnis re-opened
From the the campaign to Free Efren: “We are asking people who use Facebook to leave comments regarding the post that was recently made to the Free Efrén Facebook page titled “Judge Upholds Veritable Death Sentence for Efrén Paredes, Jr., Arrested for Crime at Age 15.” The link is available athttp://fb.com/Free.Efren.
We are trying to garner a large number of comments opposing the judge’s ruling for the general public to read,
September 10, 2021
Berrien County Judge Charles LaSata, on bench since 2004
Today, Berrien County Circuit Court Judge Charles LaSata upheld a life without parole (LWOP) sentence for Efrén Paredes, Jr., a 48-year-old Latinx man, for a crime he was convicted of when he was 15.
Previous to the ruling, Michigan had been trending away from imposing or re-imposing juvenile LWOP sentences.
According to statewide data, 251 of the 367 juvenile lifer cases have been resolved as of September 9, 2021. Of that number, 94% have received term of year sentences and only 6% have received a LWOP sentence again. Statewide, juvenile lifers have received sentences averaging 30.5 years. Nationwide the average sentence has been 25 years, according to the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth.
Efrén was originally arrested at age 15 for the March 8, 1989 shooting death and robbery of a grocery store manager in St. Joseph, a majority-white town across the river from majority-Black Benton Harbor in southwestern Michigan. He was the first juvenile in Berrien County to be automatically transferred to Berrien County Circuit Court to be tried as an adult after passage of a 1988 Michigan law which authorized prosecutors to do so without a waiver hearing.
Benton Harbor youth at protest against racism by cops and courts May 26, 2018. VOD photo
Only three months after his arrest, Efrén was convicted by a jury composed of 11 white jurors and one African-American juror. He was subsequently sentenced to two LWOP sentences for one count of homicide and a parolable life sentence for one count of armed robbery.
Three other juveniles were also convicted in the case. Eric Mui, a 17-year-old Asian-American, received two 18-45 year sentences for one count of murder and armed robbery. Alex Mui, a 16-year-old Asian-American, received an 18-45 year sentence for one count of armed robbery. Jason Williamson, a 16-year-old white teen, received a six month sentence in a juvenile facility for one count of armed robbery.
All three received plea deals from the prosecutor’s office. Eric and Alex Mui were released from prison after serving 16 years in prison and Williamson served six months. Efrén was the only person charged in the case who went to trial.
U.S. SUPREME COURT INTERVENES
Kuntrell Jackson and Evan Miller, plaintiffs in USSC Miller v. Alabama/Jackson v. Arkansas, 14 when charged.
The U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in 2012, Miller v. Alabama, which banned mandatory LWOP sentences for juvenile offenders. In 2016, the high court made Millerretroactive, and applicable to juvenile offenders already serving the sentence. (Montgomery v. Louisiana.)
The U.S. Supreme Court also ordered that all juvenile offenders impacted by the ruling have their cases reviewed by a trial court judge from the respective county they were convicted in for resentencing consideration.
Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic, now retired, prosecuted Paredes in 1989 and still claims his case was the most “memorable” of his career.
Former Pros. Michael Sepic
In 2016, Sepic filed a motion with the trial court seeking to reinstate a LWOP sentence in Efrén’s case, pursuant to Miller and . Sepic had originally prosecuted the case more than 32 years ago as an assistant prosecutor.
In 2020, Sepic retired as the county prosecutor. After his retirement, the newly elected county prosecutor, Steve Pierangeli, swore Sepic in as an assistant prosecutor so he could continue working on Efrén’s case. In a December 30, 2020 interview with the local newspaper, The Herald-Palladium, Sepic referred to Efrén’s case as the most memorable of his career.
On October 5-6, 2020, LaSata held a two-day hearing At the hearing, several witnesses testified on Efrén’s behalf, presenting an abundance of compelling anecdotal evidence of his growth, change, and rehabilitation. Other documentation was presented showing a wide range of programs he has successfully completed during his three decades of incarceration. Sepic was allowed to present evidence at the hearing as to why he felt a LWOP sentence was justified.
LaSata denies existence of racial injustice and mistreatment in St. Joseph
LaSata claimed in his ruling that racial injustice and the mistreatment of people of color has never existed in St. Joseph.
LaSata remarked he did not believe Efrén’s claim of ever being subjected to episodes of ethnic slurs, bullying, and shaming growing up as a brown boy in a majority white community. The year of Efrén’s arrest the city of St. Joseph was 94% white residents. Blacks made up 3% of the population and the Latinx population was a mere one percent.
Berrien County has seated white judges on the bench and white males have occupied the prosecutor’s office since its inception. This is true of other Michigan counties as well which has vastly contributed to the acute racial sentencing disparities.
“Children of color are 27% of the child population [in Michigan] and 71% of children serving LWOP sentences.” (Connie de la Vega & Michelle Leighton, “Sentencing Our Children to Die in Prison: Global Law and Practice,” 42 U.S.F. L. Rev. 983, 994 (2008)).
To many folks, LaSata’s ruling in Efrén’s case was a modern day legal lynching, one of many cases of the deaths and incarceration of Black and Latin residents of Benton Harbor.
The September 10th ruling reveals likely racial bias and disparate treatment in the cases of the two juvenile lifers on his docket, Paredes and Mark Abbatoy, who is white. Despite Sepic’s recommendations that both be re-sentenced to life without parole, LaSata re-sentenced Abbatoy to 40 to 60 years.
Efrén Paredes was convicted of shooting a white store manager four times and robbing the store where he and the victim were both employed. Four alibi witnesses have attested to Efrén’s whereabouts at the time the crime was committed which is corroborated by forensic evidence that disproves he committed the crime. In recent years new witnesses have also provided sworn affidavits that Mui and others convicted in the case admitted to lying about Efrén’s involvement in the crime to evade murder charges. Since his March 15, 1989 arrest Efrén has maintained his innocence and denied any involvement in the crime.
In Abbatoy’s case, he and another 17-year-old killed the co-defendant’s mother in 1997 so they could steal her car. According to a March 22, 2021 court hearing transcript in the Abbatoy case, LaSata described the tragic event by stating: “Defendant [Abbatoy] was incredibly brutal and depraved. The defendant beat [the victim] with a shovel for ten to fifteen minutes. The defendant struck the victim at least ten times with a shovel. … Three to four blows [were] so forceful that they fractured her skull embedding nine fragments of bone into her brain.”
To many folks, LaSata’s ruling in Efrén’s case was a modern day legal lynching.
State Appellate Court overturned trial court in JLWOP case of David Bennett
David Bennett at age 17 going into Garden City courtroom; and at 66 today.
Attorneys in Efrén’s case also cited a published Michigan Court of Appeals ruling made earlier this year named People v. Bennett, 2021 Mich. App. LEXIS 472. In 1972, David Bennett, age 17, was convicted of stabbing a woman in Wayne County dozens of times resulting in her death and sentenced to LWOP. Bennett was subsequently resentenced to LWOP on June 5, 2020 by a Wayne County trial court judge who reviewed the case to consider possible resentencing pursuant to the U.S. Supreme Court Miller v. Alabama ruling.
The Michigan Court of Appeals reversed the trial court ruling in the Bennett case on January 21, 2021. In doing so the appeals court stated that trial courts must decide “whether [a] defendant ‘was and would remain WHOLLY incapable of rehabilitation for THE REMAINDER OF HIS LIFE[.]'” (emphasis added) Failure to do so constitutes an abuse of discretion subject to reversal. (People v. Bennett, at *9) (quoting People v. Garay, 320 Mich. App. 29, 49 (2017)).
The Michigan COA added, “[t]o the extent that the resentencing court made a factual finding regarding Bennett’s risk of reoffending, it was clearly erroneous because no evidence supported it. Nor did any evidence support any other ground for Bennett’s continued incarceration.”
The state COA also said, “‘rehabilitation’ involves the successful completion of vocational, education, OR counseling programs designed to enable a prisoner to lead a useful life, free of crime, when released.” (emphasis added) (People v. Bennett, at *19).
Efrén’s legal team provided the court a robust body of anecdotal and documented evidence of his successful completion of each of these examples a multiplicity of times. They also provided results from psychological tests and actuarial risk assessment instruments that reflect Efrén poses a low risk of violence or recidivism if released.
Letters of support from three retired MDOC career professionals with decades of corrections experience (i.e., a former Warden, corrections officer, and Efrén’s employer of thirteen years) attesting to his capacity for change and rehabilitation, as well as letters from multiple professors from universities who taught classes Efrén participated in at various prisons, were provided to the court as well.
LaSata involved in wrongful conviction of Corey McCall
The conviction of Corey Quentin McCall, was vacated on June 25, 2021 and he was released after spending 16 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit. LaSata was the district court judge responsible for a 2005 ruling that found there was sufficient evidence to bind the McCall case over to the circuit court to be tried for three counts of murder and one count of attempted murder.
While issuing his ruling on Paredes, LaSata cited decades-old prison rule infractions and alleged violations to justify his decision as well. Some included allegations of misconduct that was not substantiated by MDOC reports or that have been disproven. Included in LaSata’s list of infractions was that Efrén fathered a child nearly twelve years ago with a former staff member who was employed at a prison where he was being housed at the time. Efrén and his child’s mother subsequently became married and remain so today. According to LaSata, this human act between two consenting adults “violated all kinds of prison rules.” Efrén, however, never received a misconduct report for any rule violation related to the incident by MDOC staff.
LaSata begrudgingly acknowledged a number of Efrén’s accomplishments throughout his incarceration, as well as his large support system. But while he described Efrén as “intelligent, charismatic, and diligent,” he also characterized him as manipulative. He dismissed three decades of Efrén’s completion of rehabilitative programming, enriching the lives of others, participating in therapeutic counseling for the past eleven years, and numerous other achievements by theorizing it “may have” all been simply to receive “opportunities.”
31 states no longer sentence children to die in prison
Since 2012, thirty-one states in the U.S. and the District of Columbia have abandoned the practice of sentencing children to die in prison or have no juvenile offenders serving a LWOP sentence according to the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth.
“[O]nly thirteen states have not substantially narrowed the application of LWOP to juveniles through statutory reform or by a lack of sentencing in practice.” (Elizabeth C. Kingston, “Validating Montgomery’s Recharacterization of Miller: An End to LWOP for Juveniles,” 38 U. La Verne L. Rev. 23, 51 (2016)). A growing consensus of states have embraced the U.S. Supreme Court’s view that LWOP sentences for juveniles are inhumane, draconian, and “akin to the death penalty.” (Miller v. Alabama, 132 S. Ct. 2455, 2466 (2012)).
After having spent more than two-thirds of his life behind bars Efrén deserves to receive a term of year sentence like the overwhelming majority — ninety-four percent — of other similarly situated juvenile lifers who have been resentenced across the state.
The Michigan Court of Appeals made it abundantly clear in the Bennett case that “‘[i]rreparable corruption,’ [i.e., forever having no capacity for change] is the ONLY ground [the U.S. Supreme Court] specifically identified for imposing a life-without-parole sentence [for a juvenile offender]. See Miller [v. Alabama], 567 U.S. at 479 (2012).” (emphasis added) (People v. Bennett, at *10).
TO KEEP STORIES COMING ON OUR PRISON NATION AND POLICE STATE
Voice of Detroit newspaper, published pro bono, was founded in 2010 and has covered numerous issues related to the oppression of Black, Latin, and poor people across the U.S. and the world. Since last year, VOD has devoted its coverage exclusively to the epidemics of mass incarceration and killings and brutality by police in Michigan and the U.S. Our editors, writers and other staff are not paid. We live on very limited fixed incomes or are incarcerated.
Nichols, a Black journalist, called on Detroiters to follow up their participation in world-wide protests against the horrific execution of George Floyd by Minnesota police on May 25, 2020 by voting in the city’s Nov. 2 elections. Readers responded with a variety of racist slurs against Detroiters. Bukowski responded to Nichols, the Freep, and its readers:
Larry Young of Highland Park cleans out sewer during floods of Aug. 2014, caused by DWSD lay-offs and takeover. Floods continue to the present day under the Great Lakes Water Authority.
“Quit blaming voters in Detroit for the low turn-out in the elections. Detroit and its residents have been devastated for decades by plant closings, the privatization of City of Detroit services and elimination of City jobs, and the closures of most Detroit Public Schools under repeated state takeovers.
Then came the state takeover of the City of Detroit under Kevyn Orr, with the crowning blow: the phony Detroit city bankruptcy in 2014 engineered by the corporations and the banks. Nearly all of the city’s assets including its world-class Detroit Water and Sewerage Department have been sold off, privatized, and otherwise liquidated. Detroiters no longer own any public assets to speak of.
Meanwhile, police who have the same negative attitudes expressed in the comments below, have been allowed to run rampant, killing and brutalizing Detroiters, while courts including prosecutors and judges send tens of thousands more to prison as part of thecountry’s mass incarceration schemes, which impact people of color far beyond their representation in the population.
NO CITY ELECTION HAS EVER TURNED ANY OF THIS AROUND….
even that of Coleman Young, whose administration for decades sanctioned rampant police brutality, frame-ups and other misconduct despite getting rid of S.T.R.E.S.S. Is it any wonder that Detroiters don’t view voting as the solution to the horrendous conditions here?
Below: article on 1971 Rochester St. Massacre (NYT) and Detroit Channel 4 coverage of drug sting in 1992. Sgt. James Harris, Mayor Young’s bodyguard, was key player in both.
Sgt. James Harris was among 3 Detroit S.T.R.E.S.S. cops charged in shooting of five Wayne Co. Deputy Sheriffs one fatal, during Rochester St. Massacre, 1971. — New York Times article March 25, 1972.
To find VOD stories on all the topics above, go to https://voiceofdetroit.net.” Enter key words on topic (e.g. Detroit bankruptcy, Detroit police, etc.) in VOD search box at top of home page.
1 in 7 U.S. prisoners is serving life, and two-thirds of those are people of color
National Lifers Association, dozens of endorsers, call for Second Look laws to allow review of LWOP sentences after no more than 20 years
Most countries in the world do not sentence prisoners to actual death in prison with no substantive review leading to release
Michigan joins 24 states now considering Second Look legislation
“I think everyone should have an opportunity to get out some day”—Ingham County Pros. Carol Siemon
By Ricardo Ferrell, VOD Field Editor
October 18, 2021
HAPPY 63rd BIRTHDAY, RICARDO!
VOD Field Editor Ricardo Ferrell covered the “Second Look” Rally at Michigan’s Capitol in Lansing October 14 from a prison cell at MDOC’s Gus Harrison Correctional Facility, calling participants for their comments and impressions.
Ferrell observed his 63rd birthday Oct. 12, two days before the event. He has been in prison since 1982, nearly four decades, on a questionable parolable life charge of 2nd-degree murder. Despite his achievements, he has been denied parole numerous times. He has become a dedicated journalist and advocate for those incarcerated with him during those years. VOD has published more than 40 of his articles and he has been published on other media sites, including . To read his VOD articles, put his name in the search engine at the top right of VOD’s home page.
Ricardo Ferrell is a shining example among thousands of men and women who should have their life sentences capped at 20 years in the battle to end mass incarceration, as the National Sentencing Project advocates. Globally, most countries allow substantive review of life sentences which can result in parole, after 15-20 years. Only a handful of countries mandate death by incarceration, as does the U.S., for those sentenced to life terms.
A portion of thousands who rallied in Lansing Oct. 14 to “END MICHIGAN’S SECRET DEATH ROW.’ Photo: Isaac Ritchey
David Shelton, center, with daughter and son David Stinson. Facebook
LANSING, MI — On the afternoon of the rally, I called David Stinson who attended the gathering and was able to listen in on what sounded like a large crowd. Stinson, who was present during the October 2019 rally told me it looked like there was a bigger turn out than the previous event, including lawmakers and many stakeholders.
The climate surrounding the State Capital, according to Stinson appeared to be shifting in a progressive direction and showing a lot of promise. Stinson is advocating for his father David Shelton, incarcerated for 28 years since Stinson was a child. Shelton is asking the State Conviction Integrity Unit to review the racially motivated Oakland County case which resulted in David Shelton being wrongfully convicted of rape. His appeals have failed despite evidence at the scene that shows a white man committed the crime.
James Harris OTIS photo
I also spoke with National Organization of Exonerees member Larry Smith Jr., and he said, “Ricardo, the time is coming where we will finally see comprehensive criminal justice restructuring to be reflective of reducing the prison system and releasing folks like yourself locked up 40 years too damn long. Just look at how James Harris has been in there 51 years under the abolished felony murder statute. He didn’t pull the trigger but he’s still sitting in there for over half a century, man this system has got to be fixed and fast.”
The family of Terrell Spencer traveled to Lansing last week to join the NLA sponsored rally in hopes of bringing attention to their loved one’s plight. Spencer who is serving a 42-80 year sentence out of Wayne County has been incarcerated now for 23 years, and as a first time offender with no adult criminal history, has an outrageous long indeterminate sentence that represents what’s long been termed a disproportionate sentence which appears to have been given to him, in a disparate fashion.
His sisters and aunt were calling on legislators and those in authority to take a Second Look at his sentence. They wore t-shirts with his name and photo and were spreading the word among gatherers.
Terrell Spencer/OTIS photo
I spoke with Spencer afterwards asking him his take on the efforts of his family and supporters during the rally. He responded, “My baby sister Latrena who was only 2 when I left, she told me that the politicians are trying to help us, but they need their help in the community in order for their efforts and mission to be impactful and complete.”
He also shared a conversation he had with his aunt Ann who has attended other rallies in the past concerning prison and criminal justice reforms and she seems to believe that the efforts being put forth now are headed in the right direction and will yield the necessary results organizations and concerned citizens have been fighting the past two-three decades for in an effort to effect the change needed to fix the broken system.
If the State of Michigan wants to get serious about reforming its criminal justice system, then its going to require the State Legislators, Judges, Prosecutors and Advocacy Organizations, all to get on the same page and get smart on crime and justice. Draconian practices and policies driven by outdated and ineffective approaches needs to change now!!!
Supporters of Wrongfully Convicted, including Jason Bowers (Alicia Garcia holding photo at bottom left) and others, at Second Look rally October 14, 2021. FB PhotoLawanda Hollister was among many women speaking for women lifers at the Oct. 14 rally. Photo: Isaac Ritchey
MOST COUNTRIES HAVE NO LWOP; 25 STATES HAVE LEGISLATION PENDING TO END IT
By Diane Bukowski, VOD editor
October 20, 2021
Ingham Co. Prosecutor Carol Siemon speaks at Oct. 14 Second Look Rally. Photo
LANSING, MI--The Second Look rally in Lansing Oct. 14 was a stunning development akin to the turn-out of families of the wrongfully convicted at a five-hour protest that took the streets around Detroit’s Frank Murphy Courthouse June 4.
Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon, the keynote speaker at the Oct. 14 rally, spoke in support of statewide sentencing reforms, including legislation that “would allow courts to re-evaluate sentencing after inmates serve a certain amount of time in prison.”
Her office said Michigan Senators Stephanie Chang and Jeff Irwin, who also attended the rally, plan to introduce this legislation, with the support of a coalition of reform advocates.
“The severity of the crime used to be the only thing we really looked at,” Siemon told Lansing’s City Pulse when she announced a review of the sentences of ninety Ingham County lifers earlier this year. Over 60 elected prosecutors and law enforcement leaders, have called for such legislation, with several prosecutors’ offices having launched such sentence review units.“
Washtenaw Co. Asst. Prosecutor Victoria Burton-Harris (center) and Prosecutor Eli Savit (upper r) speak with families of prisoners at Sec0nd Look rally in Lansing October 14, 2021. Photo Isaac Ritchey.
“If someone committed a crime 20 years ago, that tells me who they were then,” said Siemon. However, it’s not always who they still are now. . . . I’m not here to do vengeance. It’s not my job. If you’re a prosecutor, it can be really hard to go against this sort of law and order because people think you don’t care but that’s simply not true. I do care.”
Siemon has since faced concerted attacks on this issue.
Washtenaw County Prosecutor Eli Savit and Asst. Prosecutor Victoria Burton-Harris also attended the rally, speaking with families of prisoners.
Kenneth Nixon, Larry Smith, and Marvin Cotton, of the National Organization of Exonerees, which has been campaigning nationally on behalf of those they left behind in prison who are unjustly convicted as well.
Wayne Co. exoneree Larry Smith addresses Second Look rally Oct. 14, holding photo of Tamera Washington, whose family says she is wrongfully convicted. Kenneth Nixon, Pres. of Natl. Org. of Exonerees (at podium) and Marvin Cotton also participated. Wrongfully convicted Demell Dukes in photo at front of podium. Photo: Jason Bowers FB
“To end mass incarceration we must address life sentences,” says the national Sentencing Project. “A record one of every seven people in U.S. prisons is serving a life sentence. [One of five African American prisoners are lifers.] While most have committed a violent offense, research finds that people age out of criminal behavior — producing diminishing returns for public safety.
“The financial and moral costs of life imprisonment also burden communities by diverting vital resources from crime prevention and social intervention programs. This country needs a crime policy rooted in research and mercy. It’s time to end life imprisonment.”
According to the Sentencing Project, Washington, D.C., California, and New York have already passed forms of Second Look legislation, including special considerations for juvenile lifers and elderly prisoners. Now, lawmakers in 25 states. including Minnesota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Florida, have recently introduced such legislation.
At the federal level, the Second Look Act would appoint federal judges to consider petitions for sentence reduction after 10 years.
LIFE SENTENCES ACROSS THE WORLD
“In most of Western Europe, for example, a life sentence actually means that after a minimum term of 12 to 25 years, the prisoner becomes eligible for parole,” according to figures compiled by the Reeves Law Group. “However, in most of Europe, prisoners who are considered to be dangerous can be sentenced to “indefinite detention” despite eligibility for parole.”
The Law Group reports that judges determine the minimum term for eligibility for parole or ‘early release’ for each defendant, with the average minimum term at 15 years. In exceptionally grave cases, a judge can issue a “whole life order” meaning natural life.
Women at rally campaign for women lifers Oct. 14 in Lansing, MI. Photo: Isaac Ritchey
In France, Germany, Denmark and Poland, life prisoners are eligible for parole from between 12 to 25 years. In Denmark, such prisoners serve an average of 16 years, while in Poland, the highest maximum prison term is 50 years, according to figures compiled by the Law Group.
“In Latin America, life imprisonment [without parole] exists in only six countries: Argentina, Chile, Cuba, Honduras, Mexico and Peru,” says the Bloomsbury Report. “Considering that this geographic and linguistic area is made up of 19 countries, this proportion seems to suggest that Latin American legal systems are characterized by low levels of punitiveness, especially when compared with other geographic areas in which life sentences are widely used . . .”.
Advocates for Temujin Kensu (Paula at left, Marco and Vargas Johnson, and Jason Bowers (Alicia Garcia at right)) join others at Second Look rally Oct. 14, 2021, Lansing, MI. Photo: Jason Bowers Facebook
Hundreds of people filled the Michigan Capitol steps in Lansing Oct. 14 calling for a “Second Look” at LWOP sentences, to help end mass incarceration. California, New York, other states have already enacted such legislation. Photo: Isaac Ritchie
Lifer Burt Lancaster, now 60, has served 28 years in prison for killing his girl friend in 1993 with the gun he planned to use to commit suicide
A Detroit police officer for a brief period, Lancaster had long history of mental illness and family suicide
1st conviction in Oakland Co. in 1994 overturned due to racial bias in jury selection
Judge denied “diminished capacity” defense in 2nd trial, citing MSC’S controversial ‘Carpenter’ ruling in 2001; original crime occurred in 1993
6th Circuit Court overturned 2nd conviction, ruling that Lancaster had been denied ‘due process’ by the retroactive application of ‘Carpenter”
U.S. Supreme Court overruled 6th Circuit, found against defendant in 2012
By Diane Bukowski, VOD Editor
with Ricardo Ferrell, VOD Field Editor
DETROIT–Burt Lancaster has renewed his battle to reduce his first-degree murder conviction, for which he is serving life without parole. His attorneys say that he should have been convicted of the lesser included offense of second degree murder based on the real facts of the case.
He is now 60 years old and has served 28 years in prison, well over the 20 year limit that advocates who rallied in Lansing Oct. 14 are calling for as part of a national “Second Look” movement to end mass incarceration. A forensic psychiatrist who examined him in 2016 concluded that he presents a “Low Risk to the safety or the welfare of the community.”
Since 1993, Lancaster, a decorated Detroit police officer for two years before his arrest, has said that he never planned to kill his girl friend.
“I have had very deep remorse for causing the death of my beloved girlfriend Toni King,” Lancaster said. “She did not deserve for that to happen and she did not have the chance to raise her only son Lawrence King,” Lancaster told VOD. “I am remorseful because her son did not have the opportunity to have his mother’s love during his growing up as a child.”
Lancaster was first tried in 1994 on the charge, in majority-white Oakland County, where the crime happened, although all parties involved were from Detroit. The wealthy county’s current population is still only 13.9 percent Black. Attorney Kenneth Mogill got that conviction overturned based on racial bias in jury selection.
Trial testimony and forensic reports on Lancaster also showed that he was diagnosed much earlier with major depression and bipolar disorder, attempted suicide several times, and was hospitalized for his illness at least eight times between 1987 and 1993, and multiple times during his incarceration. His uncle and his younger brother both committed suicide, with Lancaster identifying his brother’s body at the medical examiner’s office while he worked for DPD.
Lancaster’s mother called Detroit police after her son took her gun planning to commit suicide in front of his girl friend. After police did not respond to her call, his mother testified under oath that the only reason she called the police a second time, saying he also planned to kill his girlfriend, was to get a faster response from police.
“I told them that because I figured that if I magnified it they would come out right away and get to him before he could leave the house,” Mrs. Lancaster testified at trial. “Well, that was the era where the police were not doing too good in Detroit. And they made runs when they felt like making runs and they would be quite a long time coming to your house.”
When Lancaster first drove up to Ms. King and her coworker at their Southfield work location, he exchanged pleasantries with them and even offered to buy them lunch, so they all could sit down and enjoy lunch together. But in the process a heated argument involving money ensued. Lancaster lost control and before he knew it, shot Ms. King to death.
Oakland Co. Prosecutor Karen McDonald (r) refused to re-try Juwan Deering (seen at his sentencing 20 years ago) whose conviction in an arson that killed 5 children was overturned.
Nevertheless, Oakland County Asst. Prosecutor Paul T. Walton pushed for the more serious conviction of first degree premeditated murder. At his second trial in 2005, the judge cited a Michigan Supreme Court ruling in People v. Carpenter 464 Mich. 223 (2001), which overturned the state’s long-time “diminished capacity defense.” The Sixth Circuit Court vacated Lancaster’s conviction for that reason because the statute was still in effect in 1993, but the U.S. Supreme Court later reinstated it.
Now with the help of his newly hired appellate attorney Phillip Comorski, he’s setting out to challange his faulty first degree murder conviction. He still wants to submit to a polygraph examination on his intent to kill his girl friend, which he’s agreed to take for the past several years. Atty. Comorski also believes that Lancaster is only guilty of second degree murder and intends to soon begin working on filing a MCR 6.500 Motion for Relief from Judgment to challenge the unsubstantiated first degree murder conviction.
He and his client are hoping that Kathleen McDonald, Oakland County’s newly-elected Prosecutor, now with a record of challenging false and unjust convictions, will give him a SECOND LOOK when his motion gets to Oakland County Circuit Court.
Lancaster has garnered the support of Kathleen Schaefer, Parole & Probation counselor who has worked for the past decade to get him released through the commutation process.
Above: Part I of Erica Lynn Speaks Podcast with interviews of Exonerees and VOD Field Editor Ricardo Ferrell. Part II is featured at the conclusion of this article.
Wayne County exonerees with NOE featured on national podcast; they have also traveled to Missouri to advocate for three prisoners there
Meanwhile, others with strong innocence claims are still serving decades in Michigan prisons
James Calhoun, serving 75 years based on a 2005 faulty conviction, died Sept. 23 in MDOC at age 64
By Ricardo Ferrell
VOD Field Editor With Diane Bukowski, VOD Editor
Recent Wayne County exonerees who served decades behind bars for crimes they didn’t commit were featured on the Erica Lynn Speaks Podcast to discuss how their wrongful convictions were overturned, in a 2-part interview which aired beginning Sept. 30.
Larry Smith, Kenneth Nixon, Marvin Cotton in Lansing, May 14, 2021 /VOD photo
Gregory Berry, Marvin Cotton, Larry Smith Jr., and Kenneth Nixon, who helped found the National Organization for Exonerees, joined Erica Lynn to talk about the hot button issue of innocent people being falsely accused of serious crimes, especially murder, and sent away to prison to serve virtual death sentences. That’s exactly what happened to all the guests on Erica’s podcast.
Smith, who served longer than the other men, shared how it was an uphill battle until the end, when he finally walked out of the Gus Harrison Correctional Facility in Madison Township on February 4, 2021 as a free man, to a crowd of family, friends, supporters and news reporters.
Gregory Berry with mother Kelly Cady on his release. Facebook
I spoke with Gregory Berry after part one of the podcast and he told me that he was glad to participate on the show and appreciated that Erica and myself had invited him to come on and discuss his 17-year ordeal of fighting to prove his actual innocence. Berry is on the National Registry of Exonerations which shows he’s been exonerated for the 2004 first-degree murder.
But he still faced an unusual dilemma in December, when he entered a plea of No Contest while under duress to Accessory After the Fact. Berry was battling a maddening bout with the Coronavirus and worried he might die in prison, so he accepted the offer even though he had no culpability whatsoever in the murder of Octavio Hernandez.
I also spoke with Kenneth Nixon who was exonerated exactly two weeks after Smith, and commended him on the fine work he’s doing to bring attention to other similarly situated individuals that have been wrongfully convicted and are innocent.
Missouri rally to free Lamar Johnson, Kevin Strickland, and Chris Dunn
Another of the members of the National Organization of Exonerees is Marvin Cotton.
I applaud the amazing work he’s putting in and the support he, Smith, Nixon and others are giving to Lamar Johnson, Kevin Strickland and Chris Dunn who are sitting in a prison in Missouri, although clear and convincing evidence showing these men to be innocent. Cotton has traveled to Missouri at least twice to rally for the three men to be exonerated and released.
Strickland has served 43 years, Johnson has served 26 years, and Dunn has served two decades. Their cases have gained national attention and the support and backing of Jean Peters Baker, a Missouri prosecutor and Kimberly Gardner, Circuit Attorney who both believes in Strickland, Dunn and Johnson’s innocence.
James Calhoun B. 8/21/57 D 9/23/2021
Sadly, two days after the first podcast was aired, James Calhoun, who had been serving a 75- year sentence for a crime new evidence shows he didn’t commit, passed away Sept. 23 at the Woodland Corrections Center in Whitmore Lake, MI, in the Hospice Unit after his long battle with cancer. He was 64 and had been incarcerated since 2005.
Calhoun maintained he was innocent, saying his murder conviction hinged on the false statements and testimonies of a convicted felon, in league with Calhoun’s ex-girl friend. Calhoun’s daughter Keila Chambliss recently attended an innocence summit in Detroit and told VOD that she vows to keep fighting to prove her father’s innocence and bring him peace.
During my interview on the Erica Lynn podcast, I mentioned about 20 others who were either wrongfully convicted or didn’t receive a fair trial and James Calhoun was one of them.
Unfortunately, Calhoun died before being able to prove his innocence. The same with Willie H., who died and didn’t get a chance to prove he wasn’t guilty of the murder he was convicted for. Sadly, there are many others like Calhoun & Willie H., who run a risk of dying before they to can prove their actual innocence.
(L to r) Paul Russ, in prison since 1984, Jerome Barthwell, in prison since 2002.
“Man, I been in here 37 years and didn’t kill anyone,” Paul Russ told me recently. “The homicide detective on my case, Sgt. Elwood Gunderson flat out framed me by using a coached witness and admitted in court to telling the witness that he identified the wrong man by positively picking #4 out of the lineup, but to go back in there and identify #3, which was me. Everyone keeps telling me to be patient, but what if I die in here like others have, then what?”
There are many others who sit in prison and are innocent, such as Jerome Borthwell who’s been locked up nearly 20 years for a crime he didn’t commit. Borthwell has newly discovered evidence proving his innocence, but he remains behind bars.
NOE members welcome Juwan Deering on his release.
Its a fact the Wayne County and State Wide Conviction Integrity Units have worked to get some of the actually innocent and wrongfully convicted exonerated, however, simply put, more needs to be done to hire additional staff to work on the 1,300 or so pending applications in the CIU, and certainly the 50 cases they announced on the news that they’re currently taking a serious look at.
I am glad to announce that Juwan Deering was exonerated after Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald moved to have his convictions tossed. Some members of the National Organization of Exonerees (Nixon, Smith and Cotton) were outside the courthouse in support of Deering when he was released. He became the newest member of the fraternity of exonerees.
CHARLES JONES WON PAROLE OCTOBER 11, 2021, ACCORDING TO HIS FAMILY AND THE MDOC.
Charles Jones with his first-born child and only daughter Aiyana Jones (mother Dominika Stanley).
This story, and a second story at its conclusion, are being re-posted today in honor of Charles Jones’ beautiful 7-year-old daughter Aiyana Jones, killed by Detroit police officer Joseph Weekley May 16, 2010 as a police SWAT-style unit broke into Charles’ mother Mertilla Jones’ home with assault weapons and “flash-bang” grenades and no warrant.
That act stunned the world in much the same fashion as the 2020 police execution of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Since Aiyana’s death, the mainstream media on the whole has falsely reported much of what transpired before, during and after the police killing of Aiyana Jones. This reporter attended every court hearing and event related to the case, unlike ANY OTHER MAINSTREAM SOURCE, and has reported on it factually, accurately and fairly.
Mertilla Jones passed last year, after leading the many generations of her family in a 1o-year battle for justice for Aiyana and Charles Jones. Her family and many friends and supporters around the world wish she could have been here to welcome Charles home.
WELCOME HOME, CHARLES! from the editor and staff of Voice of Detroit newspaper.
VOD COMMENTS POSTED with DETROIT NEWS article by George Hunter on CHARLES JONES PAROLE.
VOD Editor Diane Bukowski/photo Daymon Hartley
This is Diane Bukowski. I have been a professional investigative newspaper reporter for the last 21 years, with the Michigan Citizen and now the Voice of Detroit. I covered the police killing of Aiyana Jones, and every session of the trials of Joseph Weekley, Charles Jones, and Chauncey Owens. I am appalled at the many falsehoods and lies George Hunter features in this story, which can cause further harm to Charles Jones and his family members and could be actionable.
1) It was NEVER proven that Charles Jones gave a gun to Chauncey Owens to kill JeRean Blake. At Chauncey’s trial, the prosecutor showed a video of his statements to the police immediately after his arrest, in which he named another man, not Charles Jones, and repeatedly refused to implicate Charles. NOTHING in Chauncey’s extensive court records, which I reviewed for hours in Judge Skutt’s court, shows any such statement from Owens. There was NO factual or forensic evidence to that effect presented in either Owens’ or Jones’ trials.
Rafael Jones, then 14, leads one of many marches calling for Justice for the Jones family. Aiyana’s late grandmother Mertilla Jones (2nd row, 2 left, aunt Krystal Jones (2nd row, right.)
2) NO WEAPONS OF ANY KIND WERE FOUND IN OR OUTSIDE THE HOME OF MERTILLA JONES after the police Special Response Team raid. No weapons were found on ANY person in the house after the raid, including Charles Jones and Aiyana’s mother Dominika, Aiyana and her two toddler brothers, Mertilla Jones and her sister, and two adult cousins of Charles.
3) Weekley’s claims that Mertilla Jones grabbed his rifle after he killed Aiyana were ABSOLUTELY disproven at Weekley’s trial. The Wayne Co. Medical Examiner was forced to revise its original determination that the bullet which killed Aiyana entered from the front in her neck, to the TRUE finding that the bullet which killed her entered her head from the back.
4) MOST EGREGIOUSLY, Charles Jones did NOT plead guilty to second-degree murder at his trial, he was convicted by a jury. HE WAS NOT RE-TRIED in 2019, but RE-SENTENCED to the lesser term from which he has been paroled. The chief evidence presented against him at his one and only trial was hearsay from two jail-house snitches, both of whom received lesser charges/sentences in other cases in return.
Charles Jones gets 10-20 yrs. for manslaughter in Je’Rean Blake death, concurrent with perjury sentence, after ‘nolo contendere’ plea deal
Eligible for parole in 2021; Atty. Leon Weiss says he will urge officials to release Jones at earliest date
“Didn’t Jones give Chauncey Owens the gun?”— first question asked at press conference on police slaughter of 7-year-old Aiyana in 2010
“WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH THIS?”—shocked response from family attorney Geoffrey Fieger
After victim impact statements, Judge Wanda Evans implores family to move forward
Mertilla Jones’ favorite photo of her granddaughter Aiyana Stanley Jones.
By Diane Bukowski
July 30, 2019/updated 8/1/19
DETROIT—Two days after Detroit police shot Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7, to death as she slept May 16, 2010, the family’s attorney Geoffrey Fieger held a press conference about the horrific midnight SWAT-style raid on her grandmother Mertilla Jones’ flat in a poor east-side Detroit neighborhood.
Raid leader Detroit cop Joseph Weekley, a resident of well-to-do Detroit suburb Grosse Pointe, had blasted the child in the head with a submachine gun, only seconds after entry into the home. A neighbor commented later, “They came to kill.”
Weekley was a featured star on A&E’s “The First 48,” which filmed detailed, secret police preparations for the raid during two days after the killing of Je’Rean Blake, 17, on May 16. The A&E cameras were there as police met in a field just prior to the raid, filming their discussion of tactical plans. Then they followed along as the DPD armored vehicle approached the Jones home in a poor Detroit east-side neighborhood, and filmed the raid itself.
Fieger press conference May 18, 2010; (l to r) Aiyana’s cousin Mark Robinson, mother Dominika Stanley, father Charles Jones, Atty. Geoffrey Fieger, grandmother Mertilla Jones, aunt Krystal Sanders. Along with Aiyana’s two toddler brothers, great-aunt Robinson, and cousin Vincent Ellis, all were present during police raid conducted for the benefit of A&E’s “The First 48.”
Aiyana’s father Charles Jones and mother Dominika Stanley joined Mertilla Jones and other family members, all still numb with grief and shock, to describe the raid.
“As soon as they hit the window, I hit the floor and reached for my grandbaby,” Mertilla Jones sobbed. “I saw the light go out of her eyes and blood coming out of her mouth. I had never seen anything like that before. My beautiful, gorgeous granddaughter. I can’t trust them; I can’t trust the Detroit police.”
The mainstream media was out in force at that press conference. Despite the family’s heart-wrenching accounts, the first question out of a reporter’s mouth was, “Didn’t Charles Jones give Chauncey Owens the gun?” Clearly prompted by a leak from DPD insiders, he referred to Blake’s killing.
An appalled Fieger responded, “WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH THIS?”
NINE YEARS LATER, MEDIA STILL LIES, SLANTS STORIES ON DEATHS OF AIYANA, JE’REAN
On July 26, Wayne Co. Circuit Court Judge Wanda Evans re-sentenced Charles Jones to 10-20 years on a reduced charge of manslaughter, to run concurrently with a 10-20 year sentence for perjury, in the killing of Je’Rean Blake May 14, 2010. The perjury charge related to his secret and untranscribed testimony in front of now Chief Judge Timothy Kenny, who acted as a one-man grand jury in charging Jones and Owens.
Joseph Weekley shown as star on previous series, Detroit SWAT.
Jones will get credit for the 2,841 days he has served so far, Judge Evans said, and he could be released with the next two years with good conduct. In contrast, his daughter’s killer, DPD A&E star Joseph Weekley, walked after several mis-trials on charges of involuntary manslaughter and reckless use of a firearm.
Jones was re-sentenced after a Court of Appeals remanded his case to the trial court, saying that the late Judge Richard Skutt’s failure to answer some of the jurors’ questions caused them confusion, resulting in contradictory verdicts of “guilty” of second-degree murder and “not-guilty” of firearms charges. The prosecution’s case was based on a never-proven theory that Jones had supplied the gun that killed Blake. See COA opinion at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Charles-Jones-COA-charge-1.pdf
Judge Skutt, however, had bravely tried to exclude testimony from two “jail-house snitches,” but was overturned on appeal by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy. He suffered a fatal heart attack last year, on his way from another judge’s court.
Atty. Leon Weiss (center) speaks during Charles Jones (l) resentencing. AP Mark Hindelang at right.
During Jones’ resentencing, his attorney Leon Weiss acknowledged, “This is a tragedy for two families. We went through a six week trial, but you don’t get over losses like this. I spoke to Charles for many hours about the loss of his daughter. I believe the sentencing agreement is fair and just.”
He said later that he will urge the parole board to release Jones at the earliest possible date.
Jones said simply, “I would like to offer my condolences to the family. I pray that they get to mourn, grieve and rejoice from my conviction. I’m sorry for their loss.”
Jones’ family members, including his three oldest sons, were present for the re-sentencing, hoping to hear that he would be released with time served. (See photo below. His mother Mertilla Jones is at center.)
Je’Rean Blake’s family members including his mother Lyvonne Cargill, 10-year-old daughter Zyonna Cray, and godmother Lakese Anderson read victim impact statements.
Charles Jones’ family at his resentencing July 26, 2019.
Anderson said, “Je’Rean was a kind, giving, thoughtful young man. I pray that [Jones] receives the maximum sentence and that it runs consecutively with the other charge.” She said Blake was about to graduate from high school and planned to join the U.S. Marines.
Anderson read Cray’s statement which said in part, “How could you do this to my daddy? Now I get no calls or help from my daddy. I don’t get birthday or Xmas presents. He’s not here to help me with my homework. How could you sleep after helping someone take his life. You tried to hide him in your family home and your daughter lost her life.”
Cray was one-and-a-half years old when Blake died.
Jerean Blake’s mother is shown sitting with Je’Rean’s friend Jacquavis (J-Roc) Richards during Jones-Owens trial in this Detroit News photo.
Cargill said in part, “I miss my son. I can’t go to work. Police told me I had to go through the trial all over again. I felt like I was going to have a nervous breakdown. . . .I’m tired, ready to snap. Some people say I’m just in it for the money. They are wrong. You stole my son’s life.”
During the years after the police raid, Cargill appeared repeatedly in news interviews and on talk shows characterizing the Jones family as criminals who caused the raid on their home, aiding the official police version of events. She also ran Facebook pages with similar comments.
Before sentencing Jones, Judge Wanda Evans spoke to Blake’s family.
“What I hope for you is that no matter what has happened in the past, you look to the future and not let this control you anymore,” Evans said. “To the daughter: remember how your dad would want you to feel—he would want you to feel joy and love in spite of all. He wants you to live the best life you can live. He wants you to take this situation and not hold on to the anger. He would want you to be the voice that he no longer can be. To be able to help someone that might have been in the same situation that you’re in, to help them to get past all the hurt and the pain that your grandmother said that you’re feeling.”
Judge Wanda Evans
She continued, “What your grandmother said—I’m tired and I need some help. It’s not easy going through the grief process alone. There are professionals out there that can help you go through the different stages, of what’s going on in your head and your heart, to help your family be strong and move on.”
Evans officially barred further social media posts by the families related to this case, and informed Jones that he must have no contact with Blake’s family upon release.
Mainstream media accounts of Jones’ re-sentencing, nine years later, are still following the pattern initiated at the May 18, 2010 Fieger press conference. This is despite the City of Detroit’s apparent change of heart in settling a lawsuit filed by Aiyana’s parents for $8.25 million. It was the Office of the General Counsel for the Third Judicial Circuit Court which announced the sentencing agreement for Charles Jones in the death of Je’Rean Blake, not Prosecutor Kym Worthy, in another forward step.
But the media continue to allege that Blake’s “slaying triggered the police manhunt that ended with Aiyana shot to death in her family’s home during a raid.”
Charles Jones (l) and Chauncey Owens (r) during trial; Jones’ attorney Leon Weiss with back to camera.
They also claim, falsely, that police were looking for Charles Jones, not Chauncey Owens, who resided in the upstairs flat at a separate address. Police had a warrant to search that address specifically to arrest Owens only.
Owens is serving a life-without-parole sentence after refusing to testify that Jones gave him the gun that killed Blake. In a police video of his interrogation after Owens learned that Aiyana had died, shown to his jury but not to Charles’ jury, he named another man as the one who supplied the gun, and originally identified his brother as the killer.
At the beginning of the interrogation, Owens told police repeatedly that he had killed no one. He named his brother Sh’ronn Hurt, who lived across the street from the Jones family flat, as responsible for Blake’s death. DPD Sgt. Kenneth Gardner and others manipulated the interrogation by belatedly allowing Owens to call his fiancée, Aiyana’s aunt LaKrystal Sanders. Police had not told Owens that Aiyana was dead, but Sanders did so.
DPD Sgt. Kenneth Gardner; photo from A&E’s “First 48” website.
Like Joseph Weekley, Sgt. Gardner was also a featured star on A&E’s “The First 48.” His efforts to get Owens to confess facilitated the show’s story-line that necessitated solving the Blake murder in 48 hours.
Despite Sgt. Gardner’s repeated efforts to get him to name Charles Jones as the man who gave him the gun, he adamantly stated Jones never did so, or at the very most, was only present at the scene, which is NOT a crime.
Owens filed an appeal of his life sentence which was rejected by the Court of Appeals Sept. 15, 2015, except for an objection to an assessment of court costs, which was remanded to the trial court. (See COA ruling at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/COA-Chauncey-Owens-9-15-2015.pdf ). Court records do not show whether the case was so remanded, and there is no record of an appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court.
The Appeals Court rejected Owens’ argument that his original plea to second-degree murder based on providing a “truthful statement” of events in the Je’rean Blake killing had been unlawfully voided. The COA cited the prosecutor’s version of the plea agreement as follows:
“The Defendant must testify truthfully about the individual who supplied him with the gun he used to shoot the victim. If the Defendant cooperates and testifies truthfully any time we ask him, then we will allow – we will be asking the sentencing judge – if we’re satisfied with his testimony, to reduce his sentence by two years. The Defendant must testify at all hearings requested and must submit to a polygraph if requested.”
The COA said Owens’ refusal to testify specifically against his co-defendant Charles Jones violated this agreement. However, there is nothing in the agreement, as VOD reported earlier, that required Owens to name Charles Jones as the person who allegedly supplied a gun to him. The COA also rejected arguments regarding the failure to call witnesses who allegedly heard Sh’rrod Hurt admit to the Blake killing, claiming they were “hearsay within hearsay.” It rejected other arguments as well.
‘The Militarization of the Police’ and its role in the death of Aiyana Stanley Jones
The media, including even local talk show hosts like Mildred Gaddis and the late Angelo Henderson, put the tragic death of Blake, 17, during a personal confrontation outside a party store, on the same level as the horrific military raid launched on a poor family’s home, taking the life of their beloved Aiyana.
Aiyana Jones’ mother, aunt and grandfather March 8, 2013.
PBS reported, “Police militarization neither reduces rates of violent crime nor changes the number of officers assaulted or killed, according to a study of 9,000 law enforcement agencies in the U.S. The study is arguably the nation’s first systematic analysis on the use and consequences of militarized force.
“In at least one state — Maryland — police are more likely to deploy militarized units in black neighborhoods, confirming a suspicion long held by critics, the study found.”
But media locally have largely diminished this nationally-recognized factor when it comes to the cases of Aiyana Stanley-Jones and Je’Rean Blake.
The blame lies not only with the media but also with various community leaders who similarly equated Aiyana Stanley-Jones’ death with an “epidemic of violence” among the youth of Detroit and cities like it. The real epidemic of violence has been perpetrated by the U.S. military, police agencies, and the U.S. government across the world. So-called “Black-on-Black” violence is directly connected to factors of extreme poverty, unemployment, the destruction of public school systems and public recreation opportunities for youth nationally, and the repeatedly exposed role of U.S. secret agencies like the CIA in flooding poor communities of color with drugs.
Related story (the story below contains links to all other stories published by VOD on the police murder of Aiyana Stanley-Jones.)
Charles Jones, father of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7, killed by Detroit police May 16, 2010, hears terms of plea agreement reducing his sentences in the related killing of Je’Rean Blake. His atty. Leon Weiss is at center, with AP Mark Hindelang at right. Third Judicial Circuit Court Judge Wanda Evans set re-sentencing for July 26, 2019 at 9 a.m. Jones, Aiyana’s mother Dominika Stanley and two toddler brothers were in his mother Mertilla Jones’ home when a Detroit Police “Special Response Team” shot Aiyana in the head several seconds after entry. They had a warrant only for the upstairs flat where Chauncey Owens, the target of the raid, lived. A&E’s “The First 48” filmed two days of preparations for the raid and the raid itself. Aiyana’s killer, DPD Officer Joseph Weekley, a featured A&E star, walked free after two mistrials in front of Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway.
Jones’ 40-60 year sentence for 2nd degree murder reduced to manslaughter, 10-20 years, concurrent with 10-20 years perjury sentence, with credit for time served.
“Hopefully they’ll let him go with time served, the best possible outcome; his earliest release is in 2021. He’s held on this long, a model prisoner, and hasn’t seen his 5 sons since 2011.”–mother Mertilla Jones
COA granted Jones a new trial Aug. 30, 2012 based on contradictory jury instructions resulting in contradictory verdicts; MSC refused leave to appeal
“We fought real hard to win this appeal”–Defense atty. Leon Weiss of Fieger law firm
Aiyana Jones’ father Charles Jones and Dominique Simpson grieve in front of shattered window as child’s aunt watches. Family members say both mothers helped each other looking out for all of Charles’ children. Photo by Diane Bukowski
DETROIT— Police forced Charles Damon Jones, father of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7, to crawl through broken glass and bits of his only daughter’s brains and blood after DPD cop Joseph Weekley shot the child to death with an MP-5 submachine gun May 16, 2010 during a horrific midnight raid on her grandmother Mertilla Jones’ home.
They were looking for Chauncey Owens, who lived in the flat upstairs, for the murder of 17-year-old Je’Rean Blake two days earlier. They had no warrant for the Jones home or Jones.
As the community reacted to Aiyana’s death with outrage, the police and prosecutor put Jones in their cross-hairs instead of Weekley, a star on A&E’s “First 48,” which had cameras rolling during the raid.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy charged Jones with second-degree murder and perjury in Blake’s death, largely based on the testimony of two “jail-house snitches,” which the late Judge Richard Skutt tried unsuccessfully to bar on a motion from Weiss. Jones, now 34, who also has five young sons, was sentenced to 40 to 60 years on the murder charge and 10 to 20 for perjury.
“All you’re doing is trying to cover up my daughter’s death because of a reckless officer, but like Aiyana I refuse to be a victim,” Jones told prosecutors during his sentencing in 2014. “I hope you go after him like you did after me. Here you are judging me like I’m not human.”
Aiyana Jones, 7 (l) was shot to death by DPD officer Joseph Weekley (r) May 16, 2020.
A “one-man grand jury” composed of then-Chief Criminal Judge Timothy Kenny charged Weekley only with involuntary manslaughter and reckless use of a firearm. He walked free after two mistrials declared by Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway, despite testimony from a firearms expert and others that his gun could not have discharged “accidentally.”
During the years after the death of Aiyana Jones, the mainstream media has continued to claim that the child was killed “accidentally.”
However, during one hearing in the Weekley trial, a Wayne Co. medical examiner testified that the reason for the lack of gunpowder “stippling” around Aiyana’s gunshot wound “could have been” the result of a direct contact shot. She was shot within seconds of the time a “flash-bang” explosive was tossed into the front window onto the couch where she was sleeping with her grandmother.
Artist depiction of Aiyana’s shooting, presented by family attorney Geoffrey Fieger shortly after her death and a second autopsy which showed gunshot wound at top of forehead, exiting through neck.
That claim was discounted by independent autopsy results showing that the bullet entered the top of the child’s head as shown in the depiction at right. The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office later officially accepted that result. The defense had sought to claim that Weekley shot her from a distance, first contending that Mertilla Jones caused the shot by forcing Weekley’s gun back in defense of her granddaughter. Jones had been sleeping on the right end of the front room couch. That is what Weekley testified to during his trial.
The City of Detroit settled a civil claim against it and Weekley for $8.2 million last month, which indicated a drastic change in the city’s official stance on the case.
The Jones family had endured years of vilification in the mainstream media and on talk shows as the city and police sought to blame the victims for Aiyana’s tragic death. The DPD kept up a constant campaign of harassment, frequently arresting Aiyana’s relatives on bogus charges.
Jay Schlenkerman, now convicted of nine felonies, testifies against Charles Jones in 2012 preliminary exam, as Judge E. Lynise Bryant-Weekes listens. Photo: Diane Bukowski
VOD was the only media outlet that researched and reported the background of the chief “snitch” who testified against Jones at his preliminary exam, Jay Schlenkerman. He lied during the exam, stating that he had one felony conviction when in fact he had seven according to court records.
His offenses included drunk driving and violence against women. He was in prison with Chauncey Owens on an original charge of kidnapping and torturing his then girl-friend. But the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office reduced that charge to misdemeanor domestic violence after Schlenkerman agreed to testify that Owens told him Jones gave him the gun to kill Blake.
Owens never said that himself. At Owens’ trial, during which a separate jury was seated, the prosecution showed a video of his first interrogation by the DPD after the May 16, 2010 raid and murder of Aiyana. Owens named someone else as the individual who gave him a gun. Police interrogators also headed off expected statements from Owens regarding the role of his brother Sherrod Heard played in the death of Blake. Heard, who lived across the street from the Jones family, was present when Blake was killed and was known to have a conflict with Blake over a girl.
Schlenkerman has been back in prison at the Chippewa Correctional Facility since 2014, serving a term of six to 10 years for a third offense of operating while intoxicated, and fleeing and eluding police.
LIGHT FINALLY BREAKS, FAMILY HOPES FOR JONES’ RELEASE SOON
Charles Jones’ family including (2nd from left) his mother Mertilla Jones, sister Krystal Jones, son Semaj Jones, mother of three of his sons Dominique Simpson, and cousin Kiarra Hardy (far r), listen as plea agreement is described in court July 9, 2019.
Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Wanda Evans accepted the statement of the agreement, and set sentencing for Friday, July 26 at 9 a.m.
Jones and his family welcomed the deal, in which he pled “nolo contendere” to manslaughter for a sentence of 10-20 years, to be served concurrently with the perjury sentence. After sentencing July 26, Jones should have time served since 2011 applied to that sentence. His earliest release date would now be in 2021, but his family hopes for time served according to his mother.
Jones did not allocute to the offense. AP Hindelang read the terms of the agreement into the record, that “on May 14, 2010 Jones (provided) a handgun to Chauncey Owens knowingly creating a high risk of death or great bodily harm. … within minutes of receiving (the) handgun Mr. Owens shot 17-year-old Je’rean Blake … and Mr. Blake died from those gunshot wounds.”
Weiss told VOD, “We fought HARD for that appeals verdict.” The COA ruled that the jury’s verdict of guilty on the murder charge and not guilty on a firearms charge was inconsistent due to faulty jury instructions.
The Michigan Supreme Court refused to hear Worthy’s appeal.
Weiss also said the “nolo contendere” plea meant that Jones did not have to give up his innocence claim for legal purposes. He and Jones’ family said essentially that they felt another trial, in light of previous negative publicity against their family, was too chancy. The chief element in the prosecution’s murder charge was a claim that Jones had given Owens the gun with which he killed Blake. But during Owens’ trial in front of a separate jury, the prosecution played a police video taken after Owens’ arrest May 17, 2010 in which Owens named a different man as the provider of the gun. Jones’ jury never saw that video.
“It’s always valuable to be proactive inside these walls,” Jones wrote to VOD after his Circuit Court victory in 2012. “I’ve been taking all this in stride, and trying not to fall victim again, as well as teaching my sons through the phone. It presents a challenge, but it’s a challenge I’ll welcome anytime when it comes to my children.
“I am so happy that I can finally have a fair shot at my freedom once again! I know it’s not just cut free, but everybody does not get a second chance as I’ve seen throughout the years I’ve been in here. So thank God, for this chance He’s been giving me.”
Jones also campaigned with members of the National Lifers Association in support of last year’s “Good Time” bills in the state legislature. They would have restored credits to prisoners based on every month served without disciplinary action, a practice that existed until 1978. “Good time” increased the longer a person served. After two decades, “regular ‘good time’” could equal 15 days a month.
Jones’ excellent prison record was achieved in the face of his unbearable grief for his first-born child. His family celebrates her birthday every year.Some members of Charles Jones’ family who came out to support him in court were (l to r), his cousin Kiarra Hardy, mother Mertilla Jones, son Semaj Jones, Dominique Simpson (mother of three sons), his oldest son Charles Jones, Jr. and his sister Krystal Jones. Another family member gives the victory sign at right.
Rafael Jones, 14, leads march for Justice for Aiyana and Charles Jones April 23 2012 at Frank Murphy Hall in downtown Detroit, grandmother Mertilla Jones at left, aunt LaKrystal Sanders at right.
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“Welcome to Taylor–you shouldn’t play with the police.” –Taylor officer during traffic stop of Brendan Morgan, after violent arrest, taser torture
“Too many of the officers have behaved as if they are an occupying army in a war zone.” — Attorney Mark Fancher, Michigan ACLU
ACLU asks US Department of Justice to investigate, take action “to eliminate violence, escalation of tensions, and racially biased policing.”
(Below: ACLU video on filing of DOJ complaint v. Taylor Police Department)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—ACLU of Michigan
OCTOBER 7, 2021
Mark Fancher, attorney Michigan ACLU
TAYLOR, Mich. – Today the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan (ACLU) filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), urging its Civil Rights Division to immediately investigate the Taylor Police Department’s (TPD) history of police brutality and use of excessive force.
The filing references 20 incidents of violence by TPD officers, many of which raise concerns about the possibility of racial bias. A federal investigation is necessary to spur fundamental changes concerning the police department’s culture and personnel, as well as the adoption of much needed policing reforms.
“A new culture and a new vision of public safety are needed for the Taylor Police Department,” said Mark P. Fancher, ACLU of Michigan’s Racial Justice Project staff attorney. “For years, brutality and excessive force have been embedded in the Taylor Police Department’s culture, and too many of the officers have behaved as if they are an
occupying army in a war zone. No one should have to live in fear of the very people who are supposed to protect and serve them. That’s why we call on the Department of Justice to investigate and do what it can to eliminate violence, escalation of tensions, and racially biased policing.”
The complaint also details how TPD and City of Taylor fend off potential lawsuits by bringing charges against victims, and subsequently offering to drop the charges in exchange for the victim agreeing not to sue the department. Some of the documented
Taylor P.O. Tyler Peake (l) charged in Brendan Morgan (r) police brutality case.
Brendan Morgan, who is Black, was pulled over in April 2020, in connection with an alleged domestic disturbance. When he exited the vehicle, several officers swarmed, pushed him to the ground, beat, and tased him. All of this was captured on video, including Morgan screaming in pain, and one officer approaching him and saying,
“Welcome to Taylor.” Morgan was charged with fleeing and obstructing, but when a judge reviewed the incident, both charges were dismissed. (See Channel 7 News report at top).
Imani Ringgold-D’Abell, who is Black, sued the TPD last month for alleged excessive force. In 2019, as many as a half dozen officers converged on Mr. Ringgold-D’Abell when he was pulled over in Taylor.
When police ordered him from his car, he asked why, and was met with violence while his three-year-old daughter and girlfriend watched in horror from the car.
Officers pulled him from the car, held him face down, and tased him at least three times. Officers say they pulled him over for speeding and that he did not have his driver’s license or proof of insurance. Following the incident, Mr. Ringgold-D’Abell faced several charges, including interference with police authority. He was told the charges would be dropped if he signed a waiver agreeing not to sue the department. He refused.
The Taylor Police Department was sued – again – for allegedly using excessive force against a Black person. In this case, the driver was repeatedly tased and punched by cops in front of his daughter. Story coming to @metrotimespic.twitter.com/3CH5TpY4LY
“Our objective is to put leadership in Taylor in a position where it has no alternative to making fundamental changes in the police department, and that such changes will ensure that law enforcement is not only bias-free, transparent and accountable, but
also suited to the actual needs of the city,” Fancher said.
Joseph Rolka, a white minor in 2015, was apprehended by TPD when riding a dirt bike then tased multiple times, cursed at, beaten, and handcuffed. Rolka’s mother found him handcuffed to a hospital bed covered in blood, suffering a fractured jaw, black eye,
closed head injury, and severe cut on his arm.
Videos, from bystanders and police dash-cams, also show a sharp contrast in how TPD officers’ tone and demeanor differ while confronting people of different races. Above: Officers showed constant restraint toward an uncooperative white man openly carrying an assault rifle in Taylor:
Calvin Jones tased by Taylor police as 3-yr-old daughter and girl friend watch.
However, when TPD officers pulled over Calvin Jones, a 26-year-old Black motorist in April 2016, officers smashed his window, dragged him out of his car as his 3-year-old daughter and girl friend watched, and then held Jones in a chokehold until Jones says he lost consciousness.
This happened after Jones questioned why the officer wanted his ID when he was pulled over.
“Our objective is to put leadership in Taylor in a position where it has no alternative to making fundamental changes in the police department, and that such changes will ensure that law enforcement is not only bias-free, transparent and accountable, but
also suited to the actual needs of the city,” Fancher said.
“Taylor needs a department of responsible, skilled professionals who are equipped to deal with not only violent crime, but also other situations like mental health crises, drug emergencies and community disputes. We want a new reality, where when police officers say, ‘Welcome to Taylor,’ they actually do all they can to ensure all people are treated with dignity, respect, and are welcome.”
Taylor Police Department photo from website. Taylor’s Black population is 19.1% as of 2021.
Today’s complaint follows the ACLU’s 2017 letter to the TPD leadership (above) urging the department to implement de-escalation training and policy changes after the unnecessarily violent arrest of Calvin Jones, including a chokehold of Mr. Jones that he says made him lose consciousness.
In response, the city’s attorney sent a letter attempting to justify the actions of the involved officers.
Importantly, while there is longstanding documentation of violent TPD misconduct, the purpose of this complaint is to spark policy and cultural change in the police department. The ACLU believes that modern and progressive reform for TPD requires re-envisioning what public safety looks like for the city, including:
adopting de-escalation policies that require alternatives to conflict, de-emphasize weapons, and limit use of force;
diversifying the TPD police force (TPD hired its first Black officer in 2012);
training and implementing a mental health response team dedicated to responding to medical, mental health, disability-related, and behavioral or social needs;
creating a Citizen Oversight Commission, that represents communities impacted by police, and makes recommendations on enhancing cultural awareness and public safety in Taylor;
and, among other recommendations; developing a clear policy that considers an officer’s level of bias throughout their training and employment.
“They murdered the young man, he was shot in the back, unarmed, and there is a clear effort to cover it up; WE WILL GET JUSTICE” — Atty. David A. Robinson
Robinson interviewed by Fox 2’s Charlie Langton Sept 29 (video below).
Adams ran from scene of accidental crash with unmarked vehicle used by undercover cops surveilling “dragging and drifting” event
DPD has not released names of cops, nearby business video, gun info
DPD officers have now killed at least 8 people since July, 2020, including Adams, refuse to release names of officers, those killed, any other details
Killing happened during “major increase in police presence,” with 40% increase in DPD overtime, part of DPD summer crowd control plan
Lawsuit asks for $20 million in damages
By Diane Bukowski
September 27, 2021, updated October 2, 2021.
Michael Contrell Adams III, obituary photo
DETROIT—Michael Contrell Adams III, 19 and unarmed, was shot twice in the back and killed Aug. 8 while running away from a car accident, by an undercover Detroit police officer who did not identify himself before firing, says a lawsuit filed Sept. 10 on behalf of Adams’ family.
It says police also endangered a crowd of onlookers, which Adams entered while running north from the accident before he was killed.
Detroit Police Chief James White said Aug. 8 that the young man exited a car in which he was a passenger, holding a gun, after it collided with a car holding two officers surveilling a “dragging and drifting” car race on E. Grand Blvd. near the GM Zero Plant (a/k/a Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly).
White said an officer yelled “police,” told the man, “drop it,” and then used “fatal force,” shooting the passenger “multiple times.” He said 200 people were there. The vehicle was deployed in an attempt to make other drivers think it was just part of the audience, according to recent announcements from DPD.
The suit, filed by prominent Detroit attorneys David A. Robinson, Brandon McNeal and Thomas E. Kuhn, strongly contradicts the police version. See the lawsuit at:
“They murdered the young man, he was shot in the back, unarmed, and there is a clear effort to cover it up, which contradicts the so-called transparency that Chief White has said is his stance,” Atty. Robinson told VOD.
The late Arnetta Grable (l) and Atty. David Robinson (r), with Atty. Melissa El, won a $4M verdict in the 1996 killing of Lamar Grable, 20, by 3-time killer cop Eugene Brown
“Chief White indicated that the young man was armed and that the officer first announced himself as a police officer, told him to put the gun down, and then he shot at him. Under that description the wounds would have been not in the back but in the front. Michael Adams’ wounds are in the back. He collapsed some distance away from where the gun was found, right at the passenger door of the blue car.”
The autopsy on Adams revealed gunshots struck Adams “twice in the back and once in the forearm,” hitting his lungs and a “subclavian” artery, according to the lawsuit.
The autopsy said the “kill shot” was “a through and through entrance gunshot wound on the right upper back,” resulting in 800 ml. of blood forming in the chest cavity. The second shot to the back was “a through and through entrance gunshot wound on the left lateral back.’
Screenshot from Fox 2 Detroit video of crime scene Aug. 8, 2021 shows Preferred Produce (top right).
DPD did not release video of police killing of Michael Adams from Preferred Produce at 2445 E. Grand Blvd. shown in photos above.
White said Aug. 8 that police bodycam and dashcam videos were disabled by the crash. But Robinson said, “The police have video from the business Preferred Produce right in front of the incident. That video apparently isn’t supportive of Chief White’s version. If it were, if he were trying to be transparent, he would publicly display it.”
Police alleged gun at #1 marker at crash site, just outside car in which he rode, belonged to Adams (screenshot Ch. 4 video).
The lawsuit says, “At no time did either defendant officer identify himself as a police officer. At no time did plaintiff’s decedent have a weapon. . . At no time were any shots fired at the officer. At no time was Plaintiff’s deceased ever a threat to either defendant officer. At the time of the terminal shot incapacitating the deceased, the claimed gun found at the scene was nowhere near the deceased’s body.”
The suit is scheduled for an initial hearing Dec. 6 in Wayne County Court Dec. 6. But Robinson said the City is expected to remove it to federal court, a further delay.
“BUT WE WILL GET JUSTICE,” he declared.
Autopsy report on Michael Adams shows gunshot wounds to back. Screenshot from Fox 2 video.
Atty. Robinson was a Detroit police officer for 13 years. He has been a lawyer since then for the last 28 years, specializing in civil rights, police misconduct, and wrongful death. He and co-counsel Melissa El won a historic $4 million verdict against the City of Detroit for the family of Lamar Grable, 20, shot to death by three-time killer cop Eugene Brown in 1996.
That case played a major role in initiating federal oversight of the DPD use of force and other practices from 2003-2016.
Defendants in the suit are Detroit Police Chief James White, police officers John Doe and James Doe, and the City of Detroit.
DPD Deputy Chief Rudy Harper declined to provide information on the case, requested by VOD Sept. 16, including the names of the undercover cops, details on the gun alleged to belong to Adams, and DPD policies regarding the use of undercover officers and vehicles. He said VOD must submit a formal FOIA request to the city’s Law Department, which is being done.
Former DPD Chief James Craig initiated a “Dragging and Drifting” crackdown on street races before he left office. At a press conference earlier this year, he said it included surveillance by helicopters and undercover cops in unmarked cars.
“This activity threatens the safety of our residents and our officers, and children in our neighborhood,” he Craig said.
“We’re deploying undercover vehicles, yes, so you won’t know who’s behind you. You’re going to stop at some point, and when you stop we’re going to arrest you. And when we arrest you, we are going to seize your vehicle.”
Craig is currently targeted in a new documentary on police assaults on local protesters against the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. (See link below story.)
During his press conference Aug. 8 (video below) current DPD Chief White announced a major increase in police presence at summer events in Detroit, including “dragging and drifting” events. DPD granted up to 40 percent more overtime for police patrolling those events. He spent most of the press conference detailing the crackdowns, but spent little time discussing the killing of 19-year-old Michael C. Adams III by undercover cops the same day.
(L to r) Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, NAACP Pres. Rev. Wendell Anthony, DPD Chief James White at press conference announcing White’s formal appointment Aug. 23, 2021
Members of several controversial groups including the Detroit 300 and Operation Cease-Fire who spoke at the Aug. 8 press conference did not address the killing of Adams III, either.
The two groups last year aided Craig’s attacks on local protests against the police execution of George Floyd May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis, part of a global outpouring. They held press conferences before the April 20, 2021 verdict on killer cop Derek Chauvin, warning that the city might erupt in flames if he was acquitted.
DWB co-organizer Nakia Wallace in chokehold during protest July 10, 2010 v. police execution of Hakim Littleton.
But U.S. District Court Judge Laurie Michelson from the Eastern District of Michigan last year tossed out a suit Craig and the City of Detroit filed against the George Floyd protesters alleging that they committed violent acts, and upheld claims of police brutality and misconduct against the protesters in a suit filed by the activist group Detroit Will Breathe.
Detroit police killed two still-unnamed Detroit men with mental health issues just prior to the verdict. At the same time, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy held a press conference declaring that the police killing of Hakim Littleton July 10, 2021 was justified. Detroit police killed several others after Littleton’s death as well. Neither Worthy nor the DPD has released the names of the police officers involved in any of those killings to date.
THIS DPD POLICY APPEARS ON THE CITY’S WEBSITE, BUT POLICIES ON USE OF UNDERCOVER COPS AND VEHICLES DO NOT.
“THIS IS A MURDER TRIAL. THIS WAS AN EXECUTION.”
Atty. David A. Robinson, FOX 2 Detroit
After VOD published this story Sept. 28, Fox 2 News interviewed Atty. David Robinson (below) who told them unequivocally, “This is a murder trial. This was an execution.” He demonstrated on a chart how far away from a gun DPD alleges he had, with no proof so far, Michael Adams III collapsed and died.
Related: if there is any doubt about what the Detroit Police Department is capable of, watch the video below, compiled by videographer Kate Levy. It shows horrific assaults on peaceful protesters who marched in Detroit after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis May 25, 2020.
Click on “Watch on You Tube” to see the 21-minute video.
Voice of Detroit is a pro bono newspaper, now is devoting itself entirely to coverage of 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 $450.00, P.O. box fee of $180/yr. costs for research including court records, internet fees, utilities, office supplies, gas, etc.
Please join us, the National Lifers of America, Inc. (NLA), and our co-hosts on the Capitol Lawn in Lansing on October 14, 2021 from noon to 3pm to rally for Second Look legislation.
Second Look legislation is one tool that we have in ending mass incarceration and combating racism in our justice systems. “Second Look” means simply that a case is reviewed, given a second look, after a term of years has been served on the original sentence.
Logistics: Light, individually packaged snacks and bottled water will be available. There will be some chairs provided for participants. However, please bring your own chair if you would like to be guaranteed somewhere to sit.
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