Video above by Detroit Free Press
Full report by Michigan State Police shows Worthy cover-up likely started from date she brought false charges against 14-year-old Sanford in 2007
Is local media covering up for Worthy? Detroit News article blames her only for 8-month delay in disclosure of Tolbert testimony
Should Sanford case be Worthy’s Waterloo? Should she, others be charged with obstruction of justice and malfeasance in public office?
By Diane Bukowski
June 22, 2016
Updated June 25, 2015
DETROIT – Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy knew virtually from day one that charges against 14-year-old Davontae Sanford for four murders on Runyon Street on Detroit’s east side in 2007 were bogus, according to the full 117-page Michigan State Police (MSP) report on the case.
(See link to Michigan Public Radio story which includes a link to the full MSP report, below this story.)
The report contradicts a June 20 Detroit News story by George Hunter which blamed the prosecutor’s office only for an eight-month delay in Worthy’s disclosure of a statement by former Detroit police deputy chief James Tolbert to the MSP. Tolbert told the MSP in 2014 that he lied when he said Sanford drew a sketch of the house where the killings occurred.
The Detroit News editorial board, however, has since called for an investigation by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette of the conduct of both the prosecutor’s office and Detroit police in this case, and also for a federal civil rights investigation.
However, given that Schuette along with Worthy has been a fervent advocate of juvenile life without parole, despite two U.S. Supreme Court decisions declaring it unconstitutional, it is questionable how effective his investigation would be.
Hunter has now also revealed that the charges against Sanford have not yet been formally dismissed, as his trial judge Brian Sullivan reviews yet more evidence. That may explain why Worthy concentrated on the evidence against Sanford, and not on the confession and culpability of Vincent Smothers, during her June 9 press conference.
“The MSP unearthed new information not available to us at the time this case was charged, not available at the time of trial and subsequent guilty plea on the second day of trial, or at the time of prior post-conviction litigation that took place over a two-year period,” Worthy said at the conference. “This new information undermines Sanford’s confession and plea, so we agreed to vacate his confession and dismiss the case, 20 days ago, not 9 years ago.”
She also said, “There is a perception out there that we had the signed, cogent confession of Vincent Smothers. This case was never about Vincent Smothers. Interviews and affidavits including those of Smothers are not evidence. We do not agree to set aside guilty pleas based an anything other than evidence. . . . There was never any testimony from Vincent Smothers. He made several statements about the Runyon St. murders, the first in 2008, which was vague and devoid of any real facts.”
But the MSP report is largely based on the Detroit Police Department’s production and review of evidence immediately after the Runyon street murders in 2007. It says the description two eyewitnesses gave of the killers did not comport with Sanford’s height and age, and questions why Detroit police never further investigated Vincent Smothers’ confession to the murders two weeks after Sanford went to prison in 2008, among other factors.
“We revealed the misconduct of the Detroit Police Department (DPD) way back when this happened,” former Channel 7 news reporter Bill Proctor told Channel 7 after Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Brian Sullivan reportedly vacated all charges against Sanford and ordered his immediate release from prison on June 8, 2016. That was nearly nine years from the date Worthy charged Sanford, on Sept. 23, 2007.
“And the fact of the matter is the Prosecutor’s Office, Kym Worthy, has known for years of the real statements coming from the confessed hitman, in fact she structured out a deal for him to essentially send him off to prison without including this case,” Proctor continued. “She has known for years.”
Proctor referred to hitman Vincent Smothers’ confession to Detroit police on May 6, 2008 that he and an accomplice carried out the murders. Proctor later told VOD that Worthy and the DPD had “orchestrated” the entire prosecution of Sanford.
The full MSP report points out numerous discrepancies in initial DPD reports on the case, which should have been noted not only by Detroit police but by Worthy. It also says that Smothers’ confession, which Worthy said was “not evidence” and undetailed during her press conference, was in fact credible.
SIGNIFICANT ISSUES IN MSP REPORT:
WITNESS STATEMENTS DESCRIBE TALLER, OLDER MAN THAN SANFORD
- Key witness Valerie Glover, who hid under a bed and survived the shootings, gave a written statement to police Sept. 18, 2007.“Glover described the subject as a black male, no more than thirty to thirty-thirty five years old with a soft voice. Glover further described the subject as approximately 6’ to 6’1” tall with a slim build,” says the report.Worthy said during her press conference that Glover identified Sanford’s voice in court although he did not fit the description she gave.
- Neighbor Jesse King, who engaged in a shoot-out with the killers, “described the first subject as being 5’11”-6,’ brown-skinned, slim medium build, dark clothes . . . He advised the initial subject was carrying a long gun. King described the second subject as slightly shorter than the first with the same build and complexion. He advised that the subject was carrying a handgun.” His written statement is dated Sept. 18, 2007.
Later MSP Investigator’s Note: “Sgt. Russell documents Sanford’s height and weight on the statement form as 5’5” and 155 lbs. Further, Cary Daily AKA ‘Cary’ is listed on the report as 5’07” in height and 140 lbs. in weight. Both subjects are substantially shorter in comparison to the description of the suspects provided by Jesse King and Valerie Glover. Additionally, there is no indication in the report of any firearms being recovered in the ‘AT&T lot’ or anywhere near the scene.” (Sanford said in the first of two confessions that he and his accomplices had thrown their weapons into an AT&T parking lot.)
WORTHY DID NOT CHARGE SANFORD’S ALLEGED “ACCOMPLICES”
In two confessions, typewritten by police investigators, Sanford claimed he had several accomplices in the Runyon Street killings. Antonio Langston, who Sanford called “Tone Tone,” Angelo Gardner, called “Los,” Cary Dailey, called “Cary,” and Santo Green were interviewed by police. Sanford later gave nicknames for other individuals, but police were not able to identify them or confirm that they even existed. Worthy referred only to the second set of alleged accomplices during her press conference.
The MSP reports that Detroit Police took what they called an alibi statement for Langston and Gardner from Lacreasha Vinson, dated Sept. 19, 2007. She said she was with Gardner working on his hair from about 9 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. Langston told police he was with Gardner at the home of Kenita Noilbrok while Gardner was getting his “hair done” by “another female.”
Nevertheless, it says, “On September 20, 2007, the Detroit Police Department submitted a warrant request for Davontae Sanford, Antonio Langston, Deangelo Gardner, and Santo Green. Only Davontae Sanford was charged by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, charges were denied for the other three suspects. Sanford was charged with four counts of first degree premeditated murder, one count of assault with intent to murder, one count of robbery armed and one count of felony firearm arising out of the robbery and murders that occurred at [Runyon] street. Angelo Gardner, Antonio Langston, Cary Dailey and Santo Green were not charged by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.”
WORTHY FIRST ASKED MSP INTO SANFORD CASE TO INVESTIGATE ALIBI WITNESS WILLIAM RICE FOR PERJURY
Worthy boasted during her press conference that it was she who asked the MSP to conduct an investigation of the entire Sanford case on May 4, 2015 after a motion for relief from judgment was filed in front of Judge Sullivan.
She said, “On May 4 (2015), I requested MSP undertake an investigation into the Davontae Sanford case. We made that request. Nobody else. We did.”
She referred hurriedly to the MSP’s earlier perjury investigation of alibi witness William Rice, former Detroit homicide chief, but did not indicate that she had in fact requested that investigation.
State police Detective Sgt. Christopher Corriveau wrote in the MSP report that it first became involved in the case when Worthy asked the MSP to investigate former DPD Homicide Chief William Rice for perjury in post-conviction proceedings in the Sanford case. The MSP was already investigating him on charges related to mortgage fraud brought by the Prosecutor’s Mortgage Deed Fraud Task Force, and by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Rice had testified during a post-conviction hearing in front of Judge Brian Sullivan that Davontae Sanford was with him at his aunt Cheryl Sanford’s house during the time of the killings, until early the next morning. The report says Rice characterized Cheryl Sanford as his “significant other.”
Worthy called this a “perjured alibi” during her press conference, based on cell phone tower evidence called questionable by defense attorney Kim McGinnis during the hearings. An appeals court later overturned Judge Sullivan’s decision in a scathing denunciation of how the case had been handled.
Worthy ignored DPD records of other statements corroborating Rice’s testimony directly after the killings. The MSP report says Sanford’s mother and uncle Taminko and Nathaniel Sanford told police Rice had driven them, Sanford, and Sanford’s two sisters to Cheryl Sanford’s house for dinner around 9:30 p.m. and did not return until early the next morning. Sanford also told officers who encountered him outside his house that night that his “uncle” Bill Rice had just dropped him off.
Worthy charged Rice with two counts of perjury in the Sanford case, and numerous counts regarding a mortgage fraud case, drug-dealing and other matters. Rice pled guilty in a plea bargain to the Sanford perjury counts and to one count of operating a criminal enterprise in the mortgage fraud case. He was sentenced by Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Gregory Bill to 2-20 years in the Michigan Department of Corrections on the various counts, apparently running concurrently.
Cheryl Sanford was charged in the mortgage fraud case as a co-defendant, and sentenced to five years probation, one to be served in jail, also in a plea bargain. Detroit’s Channel 4 News reported that Rice would likely be out of prison in two years.
The Sanford perjury case and the mortgage fraud cases are listed separately in court records, but Channel 4 reported that Judge Bill sentenced Rice in both cases at the same time, apparently as part of a package deal. Considering that these cases were completely separate matters, it appears odd that Rice and Cheryl Sanford would have been sentenced for both before Bill on the same day, Feb. 22, 2012.
MSP EXTENDED ITS INVESTIGATION AFTER SMOTHERS INTERVIEW
Corriveau says that the MSP extended their investigation after interviewing Vincent Smothers, who had confessed to the Runyon Street killings. The MSP report indicates that they had already been looking into a series of murders the admitted hit man had confessed to.
“During the investigation of William Rice for perjury, I interviewed several people, including Vincent Smothers, who were pertinent to the original investigation of the homicides that occurred on Runyon Street,” Corriveau wrote. “As a result of my review of the DPD investigation and the related events involving Vincent Smothers, I determined that a more in depth investigation would be appropriate. In late April of 2015, D/F/Lt. Furlong and I met with representatives of the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and requested that the investigation into the homicides that occurred at 19741 Runyon Street . . .be re-opened.”
Worthy did subsequently author a letter dated May 5, 2015, asking the MSP to investigate, but she did not, as she said during her press conference, initiate the investigation.
AMMUNITION AT SCENE INCONSISTENT WITH SANFORD STATEMENT
During his guilty plea statement at his two-day trial, and in his written confessions Sanford claimed he fired a “Mini 14 rifle” into the Runyon Street house.
An Investigator’s note in the MSP report says, “[T]he commercially available Mini 14 rifle is a semi-automatic carbine that fires a Remington .223. or alternatively a 5.56 mm cartridge. Neither of these types of rounds were recovered.from the scene).
The MSP report says Detroit police reported recovering 13 Wolf brand 7.62 x 39 mm cartridge cases and six Federal brand 7.62 x 39 mm cases at the scene. These were consistent with the use of either one or two AK-47’s. After Smothers’ confession to DPD on May 8, 2008, the DPD identified a gun taken from Michael Robinson, one of the Runyon Street murder victims, as the same gun with which Smothers later killed Rose Cobb, wife of Detroit Police officer David Cobb.
Worthy said during her press conference that Sanford later referred to an “AK,” but it is not clear at what point this allegedly happened. The report notes police found other discrepancies in Sanford’s description of the weapons he and his alleged accomplices carried.
REPORT OF K-9 TRACK
Worthy said during her press conference that the DPD K-9 unit dog stopped directly in front of the residence of Davontae Sanford at 19770 Beland because the dog lost an unspecified scent. She did not describe the entire incident. The track stopped when Detroit Sgt. Michael Russell, who was following the track, happened on Davontae, a 14-year-old child on the street near his house in his pajamas.
According to the MSP report, DPD Officer Chris Salisbury said after the shootings in a written report that “he made contact with Sgt. Bill Hart who informed him the suspects involved in the shooting were observed by witnesses running northwest across a field towards E. State Fair. Officer Salisbury and he and his K-9 began a track northwest across a field towards E. State Fair. He continued tracking westbound on E. State Fair along the curb across Teppert Street to a vacant field just before Beland. Officer Salisbury then tracked across the vacant field towards Beland and then tracked southbound on Beland along the sidewalk. Officer Salisbury continued tracking southbound on Beland and stopped at the drive of 19770 Beland. At that point the track was terminated.”
A report by Investigator Dale Collins explains why the track was terminated.
It says Collins “followed the K-9 track with Sgt. Russell and while conducting a canvass of the area on Beland, he observed Sgt. Russell speaking with Davontae Sanford. Collins stated that he then made contact with Sanford who informed him that he had been dropped off earlier that day by his Uncle Bill. Collins advised that he asked ‘Bill who?’ and Sanford responded that it was Bill Rice. Collins informed Sanford that he knew Bill Rice and he (Sanford) needed to help the police.”
On July 13, 2010, Collins told the MSP, “I called Bill Rice and I asked him—or I told him that we were working on a triple homicide and that we were talking to a young fellow. And this guy said that he had been dropped off by Bill. And I asked Bill, I said well—Bill asked me well, what’s his name? And I told Bill his name is Davontae. He said, well, yes, that’s Cheryl’s nephew, that he had dropped him off over there. He also said that he was a young—he’s about 14 or 15 years old, and he’s a street guy. Anything out in the street he knew about. So if he tells you something, you can believe it.”
The report continues shortly, “Collins then stated that he, Sgt. Russell and Commander James Tolbert drove Sanford around in Tolbert’s vehicle. Collins stated that Sanford then pointed out several locations where people sell guns and gave them general information about the neighborhood.”
The report says they drove around for several hours, contradicting court testimony that Davontae was first interviewed at DPD headquarters.
The report adds that Russell and other officers were present during Sanford’s interrogation later, while he allegedly drew the Runyon house diagram. The MSP has asked for perjury charges against Tolbert, but none against Russell or others.
MSP ARREST OF SMOTHERS AND PAYNE IN MAY 2007
The report also says, “It should be noted that on May 21, 2007, prior to the homicides that occurred at 19741 Runyon, Leroy Payne was arrested with Vincent Smothers by Michigan State Police Troopers while traveling to Chicago. Two pistols were located in that vehicle.”
There is no record of this arrest or any subsequent proceedings on the MSP “ICHAT” record for Vincent Smothers. There is however a record for Leroy Payne for the arrest in Berrien County, with subsequent adjudication of a plea deal for “attempted firearms possession of loaded firearm in or upon a vehicle.” Payne was originally charged with possession of a firearm by a felon and carrying a concealed weapon. His only other charges listed were drug possession felonies from the 1990’s. He is currently being held in custody in Georgia, according to the MDOC website.
Worthy has not even attempted to investigate and prosecute Payne for hiring Smothers to commit the Runyon Street killings.
DPD, WORTHY’S FAILURE TO FOLLOW UP ON SMOTHERS’ CONFESSION
An MSP investigator says in the report, “I reviewed all of the above referenced reports relating to the investigation of Vincent Smothers and the investigation of the homicides that occurred at 19741 Runyon. During that review I could not locate any documented interviews or attempts of an interview of Ernest Davis AKA “Nemo”, Leroy Payne or the resident of [blocked out] Tamika Davis. Further, there does not appear to be any follow up or additional investigation conducted by the Detroit Police Department in relation to the statements made by Vincent Smothers concerning the homicides that occurred at 19741 Runyon.”
Smothers told police Ernest “Nemo” Davis was his accomplice in the Runyon Street killing, and that Leroy Payne, employed by drug kingpin Delano Thomas, hired him for the job.
The MSP report says it requested warrants for Tolbert, Smothers and Davis. But Worthy said at her press conference that she wanted further investigation by the MSP before issuing the warrants. The MSP has said its investigation is over.
Thus left open is the question of whether Worthy and others from the prosecutor’s office and police department who were involved in Sanford’s frame-up should be charged with obstruction of justice and malfeasance in office for knowingly and wrongfully incarcerating Sanford and failing to pursue a case against Smothers and others. Sanford suffered torture, harassment and humiliation by guards while incarcerated at the Ionia Maximum Correctional Facility, and his mother, stepfather, and the rest of his family suffered untold anguish for almost nine years trying to free Sanford.
Below: full video of Kym Worthy’s press conference after Davontae Sanford’s charges were dismissed without prejudice. It focused almost solely on evidence vs. Sanford, not the MSP report revelations.
As earlier promised, VOD has located the donation site for Davontae Sanford, at https://www.change.org/f/exoneration-of-davontae-sanford
Related stories from other media:
The following story includes link to full MSP report on the Sanford case, which is too large to include as a PDF on this site. It is unclear why the Detroit News did not include the link. The other two stories from the Detroit News by George Hunter, and the News’ editorial calling for an investigation of the prosecutor’s office and Detroit police, are referenced in the article above.
#DavontaeFreeatLast, #Beatbackthebullies, #SaveOurChildren, #BlackLivesMatter, #StandUpNow, #StopJuvenileLifeWithoutParole, #FreeCharlesLewis, #EndPoliceStatePrisonNation, #ChargeKymWorthy, #FreeCharlesJones