Above is interview with Thelonious “Skinnyman” Searcy Dec. 7, 2018, about Judge Timothy Kenny’s ruling on his wrongful conviction in 2005 for the death of Jamal Segars. Searcy is at bottom right, listening as his attorney Michael Dezsi plays recording for Vincent Smothers of his confession to the killing, which he graphically acknowledged during earlier hearing.
Ruling rendered after 6-month evidentiary hearing during which Vincent Smothers testified in detail that HE killed Jamal Segars
Hearing exposed that court LIED to trial jury about type of bullets found in victim, as well as those surrounding his car, NOT from claimed murder gun
Judge Kenny stated during hearing that he believed Detroit crime lab should not have been shut down; he presided over Jarrhod Williams’ 2nd conviction
“My mother and grandmother raised me to fight against anything that oppresses me unlawfully. This Judge will soon bear witness that God is the greatest… Nothing that’s evil will possess everlasting power.” –Searcy
Update April 20, 2021: DeAnthony Witcher, referenced in story below, stated in a phone call to VOD Editor Diane Bukowski that he is NOT a police informant and denies all allegations made against him in this and subsequent stories on the Thelonious Searcy case.
DETROIT – Wayne County presiding criminal court judge Timothy Kenny denied Thelonious (“Shawn”) Searcy’s motion for a new trial in the 2004 murder of Jamal Segars Dec. 3. The nine-page order addressed an evidentiary hearing that lasted six months through June 29, which exposed in stunning fashion the depth of corruption present in all branches of the County’s Third Circuit Court judicial system.
Judge Kenny is expected to become the Chief Judge of both the criminal and civil divisions of that court on Jan. 1, 2019, according to an announcement from the Michigan Supreme Court, which says current Chief Judge Robert Colombo is phasing into retirement.
Judge Kenny claims the defense case was based on newly discovered evidence only, when in fact Searcy’s pro se motion and brief filed in July, 2016 and left to moulder in his file for over a year, is titled “Motion for New Trial Pursuant to MCL 770.1 and MCR 6.502 (G)(2).”
In it, he repeatedly raises his claims of actual innocence and stresses the predominance of MCL 770.1, which allows a judge to rule in any case where he/she feels “justice has not been done.”
The Michigan Supreme Court is currently considering an amendment to MCR 6.502 which would add an “actual innocence” waiver provision regarding time limits on court filings, in line with that used in other states.
In his ruling, Judge Kenny says, “The defense claim for relief is based upon the newly discovered evidence of a) the confession of Vincent Smothers and supporting testimony by Marzell Black b) newly obtained forensic testimony regarding the contents of an evidence envelope allegedly containing evidence taken during the autopsy of the homicide victim Jamal Segars and c) a memorandum from the Detroit Law Department.”
He concludes, “The admission made by Vincent Smothers, as it applies to the Segars murder, is not credible. The forensic evidence, evidence offered by Marzell Black and the City of Detroit memo are equally unconvincing. For these reasons, the defendant fails to meet his burden under MCR 6.502 and People v Johnson and the defendant’s motion for relief from judgment is DENIED.”
Kenny’s ruling completely ignored evidence affirmed by Kenny himself during the hearing that HE LIED to the trial jury when they asked during deliberations what type of bullets killed Segars. Kenny told them that prosecution and defense attorneys told him the bullets were “not identifiable.”
A disputed forensics envelope was opened and independently examined during the evidentiary hearing. It contained one of the .40 caliber bullets the medical examiner found in Segars’ body, in keeping with Vincent Smothers’ testimony that he used a .40 caliber gun to kill Segars. It had been labeled as a .9 mm shell casing. The ME identified several other .40 caliber bullets as well.
Trial AP Patrick Muscat claimed a .45 caliber gun he presented at trial was the murder weapon.
During testimony by Detroit Police evidence technician Patricia Little on ballistics evidence from the Segars killing, Kenny made the startling admission that he was involved in the case of Jarrhod Williams, which led to the shut shown of the Detroit Crime Lab in 2008. The MSP found 10 percent of forensic results had been falsified and 42 percent did not comply with scientific forensic standards.
“I never thought the crime lab should have been shut down,” Kenny said during Little’s testimony, opening the possibility of a blatant conflict of interest in his participation in Searcy’s case.
Kenny presided over Williams’ second trial after his first conviction was thrown out when testimony surfaced that 42 spent shell casings at the scene of the crime came not from one gun, allegedly belonging to Williams, but from two guns. Williams was convicted a second time in front of an all-white jury using the same evidence.
Regarding that trial, Williams’ mother Valerie Watts told VOD during a protest in 2011, “The prosecutor brought in the same gun they used in the first place, except this time they showed it to the jury and said it was the wrong weapon. But all the jury saw was the gun. There were no eyewitnesses. How can you convict someone on a statement a police officer wrote down, and didn’t even read to him? The police said they found a scoop of shell casings all in the same spot. My son’s gun was never fired and its clip couldn’t hold that number of bullets anyway.”
Kenny also falsely stated that numerous .45 caliber bullets were found around Segars’ car, when in fact Attorney Dezsi presented a police report (above) saying that numerous .40 caliber bullets were found around Segars Corvette, but several .45 caliber bullet casings were found ACROSS THE STREET in a store parking lot.
That was consistent with Smothers’ testimony that he approached Segars’ car from behind, repeatedly firing his .40 caliber gun, and then shot Segars in the head at the driver’s side window. It was also consistent with the testimony of witnesses who said they saw Detroit police firing at the driver of a burgundy Marauder after the police crashed into his car in the parking lot, where the .45 caliber casings were found.
“The bullets don’t lie,” defense attorney Michael Deszi said during the hearing. “When the [trial] jury wanted to know what kind of bullet was in this guy, jurors were lied to and told ‘we couldn’t tell.’ Now we know they COULD tell. It was a .40 caliber bullet, and there were .40 caliber casings all around the car the victim was in.”
Judge Kenny claimed that the detailed account Smothers gave from the stand had nothing new in it and could easily have been obtained from Searcy himself, since the two were incarcerated together for a brief period in the Macomb Correctional Facility.
However, in an affidavit, Searcy denied having any direct contact with Smothers, and said he informed his unit officer that he had heard Smothers was at MCF. He said Smothers was a Level 4 prisoner, while he was in a separate division at Level 2, and that the two levels are not allowed to mix. Read Searcy’s affidavit at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Searcy-aff-re-how-he-got-Smothers-letter.pdf.
The interview of Vincent Smothers above about his killing of Jamal Segars was conducted by private investigator Scott Lewis.
Searcy said he was transferred out of Macomb to Chippewa Correctional Facility shortly after disclosing the information to his unit officer.
Judge Kenny says in his ruling that “In his interview with the Michigan State Police, and with his defense counsel present, Smothers recanted an affidavit admitting the murder of Jamal Segars. Smothers indicated to the State Police that he was incarcerated in the same prison with defendant Searcy and that Searcy had made comments to Smothers that Searcy had friends on the outside who had been watching Smothers’ wife and children.”
He neglects to mention that this information did not come from Smothers’ own testimony, but from the vague, rambling testimony of State Trooper Christopher Corriveau, who had no documents or notes to back up his allegations.
Smothers testified he recanted his first confession after being told that it would hold up the exoneration of Davontae Sanford for murders Smothers confessed to.
Smothers unexpectedly refused to have his attorney, Gabi Silver, represent him at the Searcy evidentiary hearing. She had advised him to plead the Fifth Amendment. Her similar advice in the case of Davontae Sanford prevented Smothers from taking the stand himself there, to admit to the four 2007 Runyon St. murders with which 14-year-old Sanford was charged. That further delayed Sanford’s release. Silver claimed during hearings on the murder of Rose Cobb that Smothers was “coerced” into confessing.
“I am sorely disappointed by the trial court’s decision to keep Mr. Searcy behind bars,” Dezsi said, in response to Judge Kenny’s ruling. “ It is my client’s intent to appeal the court’s decision and point out all of the evidence that proves Searcy’s innocence. We are hopeful that the Michigan Court of Appeals or Supreme Court will see this matter differently on appeal and grant Mr. Searcy the relief to which we believe he is entitled.”
Searcy told VOD by JPay email, “As a sworn officer of the court [Judge Kenny] has openly violated his oath of preserving the integrity of the court, by misleading the public and the court with a perjured opinion. Inside of my Homicide investigative file you will find a hand written report of the crime scene which outlines exactly where the shell casings were located. Kenny openly lied stating .45 calliber shell casings were found around the victim’s Corvette. He further avoided the question that the jury asked about the weapon used to kill the deceased. He told the jurors that they didn’t know. He committed perjury along with the prosecutor and my former attorney.
“This invalid jury instruction led to me getting found guilty. Wayne County is the most lawless county in the United States: look at all of these wrongful convictions. Federal Authorities need to investigate all cases from Detroit. The lawyers are crooked, the prosecutors and the judges are crooked. My mother and grandmother raised me to fight against anything that oppresses me unlawfully. This Judge will soon bear witness that God is the greatest… Nothing that’s evil will possess everlasting power.”
During each hearing, the courtroom was packed with Searcy’s supporters.
“They’ve included some of my high school and middle school teachers, preachers from the neighborhood, my landlord and her husband, along with my family and friends from my community,” Searcy told VOD. “During this last hearing, there wasn’t enough room for everyone, so many people had to wait out in the hall.”
Judge Timothy Kenny’s ruling Dec. 3, 2018
Searcy’s pro se motion for new trial, filed July 22, 2016:
Part one of Searcy brief with Motion:
Part two of Searcy brief with Motion: