As Wayne County Prosecutor election primary nears Aug. 4, family and supporters of wrongfully convicted Darrell Ewing rally July 2, 2020
Ewing and co-defendant Derrico Searcy won new trial Oct. 24, 2017 due to jury contamination, lack of “overwhelming evidence of guilt” (judge ruling)
U.S. District Court Judge Denise Page Hood earlier threw out convictions, ordered new trial
Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy appealed, Sixth Circuit ordered evidentiary hearing which resulted in order for new trial
Worthy STILL appealing through state courts, keeping Ewing, Searcy locked up as COVID-19 endangers lives of the incarcerated across U.S.
By Diane Bukowski
July 9, 2020
DETROIT — Supporters of Darrell Ewing, including a large contingent of family members who came from as far away as Atlanta, rallied outside the Frank Murphy Hall in downtown Detroit for six hours July 2. They said that he was wrongfully convicted in 2010, but has been kept in prison, his life endangered by the COVID-19 pandemic, ever since. Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Michael Hathaway ordered a new trial for Ewing and his co-defendant Derrico Searcy Oct. 24, 2019, but Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy appealed that ruling as she has stonewalled all Ewing’s appeals since the beginning.
Ewing’s mother LaSonya Dodson told VOD that her son’s supporters want to see Worthy removed due to her refusal to grant justice in Ewing’s case, as well as the cases of many others.
“We have been going through this process in the court system for 10 years now,” Dodson said. “U.S. District Court Judge Denise Page Hood ordered a new trial earlier, but that ended up at the Appeals Court in Cincinnati, where we won again. Judge Hathaway ordered a new trial, but prosecutors chose to appeal knowing that he is innocent. The young man who did this has confessed; we have got written affidavits.
“We also had a juror that came forward and said there wouldn’t have been a guilty verdict if she hadn’t been forced to change her vote. We do appreciate her for coming forth. The coronavirus pandemic has delayed more court hearings. You can’t social distance in prison—if somebody wins a new trial, it seems like they should be released.”
Worthy is opposed by progressive defense attorney Victoria Burton-Harris, part of a national coalition of newly elected prosecutors and candidates confronting the U.S. epidemic of mass incarceration head-on.
Burton-Harris says those living in Wayne County and especially Detroit have been targeted disproportionately since Prosecutor Worthy took office in 2004, victimized by wrongful convictions and Worthy’s insistence that all court appeals be opposed, many times on technical grounds.
Ewing and and his co-defendant Derrico Searcy were convicted of murdering J.B. Watson Dec. 29, 2009, in an allegedly gang-related shooting at Harper and Van Dyke. They have been in prison serving life sentences since 2010 despite the subsequent confession of Tyree Washington to the murder. Washington came forward repeatedly to declare under oath that he, not Ewing and Searcy, carried out the killing.
Many Michigan Department of Corrections prisoners are in similar circumstances. The Michigan Supreme Court sent the conviction of Thelonious Searcy, whose case VOD has covered extensively, back to the state Court of Appeals March 18, 2o20, ordering that they grant his leave to appeal and issue a substantive ruling. The Appeals Court has yet to do so, and meanwhile Searcy has tested positive for COVID-19.
Searcy was convicted of the 2004 murder of Jamal Segars, who was shot to death while stuck in traffic during a Labor Day weekend “Black Party” on Gratiot at Conner outside City Airport. Filing pro se, he won an evidentiary hearing that was held from January through June of 2018.
During that hearing, he and attorney Michael Dezsi exposed the truth, that Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Kenny, in league with Asst. Prosecutor Patrick Muscat, lied to the trial jury about the type of bullets found in Segars’ body.
The .40 caliber bullets that were actually found comported with the gun hit man Vincent Smothers said he used, in a detailed confession given during two days of testimony in open court.
Smothers was more broadly known as the hit man who confessed to killing four people on Runyon Street in 2007, a crime for which Davontae Sanford, then 14, was falsely convicted and spent nine years in prison. A Michigan State Police investigation, using the Detroit Police Department’s own reports, uncovered the clear collusion of Prosecutor Worthy and her subordinates with the DPD in Sanford’s frame-up. Patrick Muscat was the AP in that case as well as Searcy’s. Worthy contends to this day that Sanford was not innocent, earning her the title of “Innocence Denier” in a national article.
Bekeiba Holland: 150 Mich. Juvenile Lifers still not re-sentenced 8 yrs. after SCOTUS ruling, time to remove Kym Worthy
Bekieba Holland attended the protest, representing Prisoners Doing the Right Thing, whose office is at 15535 Mack on Detroit’s east side. The group, founded by the late Timothy Kincaid, a juvenile lifer released in 2016 who was well-known throughout the MDOC, has a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PDTRT100.
Holland was convicted and sentenced as a juvenile lifer in 1991, and served more than two decades in prison before he was re-sentenced.
“We’re down here to show the community what Kym Worthy is doing and what she has been doing throughout the years,” Holland told VOD. “We need to remove her. She’s not doing a service, she’s doing a disservice. Our taxpayer dollars are going to pay her salary. We have over 150 juvenile lifers in Michigan who haven’t gone back for re-sentencing yet. What is the hold-up? I had to wait three years before I could get resentenced. She tried to re-instate life on me, but since it wouldn’t stand, she came with a cop, 30 to 60, so I took the deal and I’m out. The high court said it’s unconstitutional to give a juvenile a mandatory life sentence, but she doesn’t want to abide by their ruling.”
Worthy virulently opposed Michigan state legislation that would have banned juvenile life without parole prior to the SCOTUS rulings. She testified before the Michigan legislature against statutory changes supported by the Second Chance Coalition of families and even victims of juvenile lifers that would have outlawed JLWOP in Michigan.
Worthy allied herself with former Atty. General Bill Schuette in insisting that Miller was not retroactive, but SCOTUS ruled in Montgomery that it was. After that ruling, she filed motions to keep 41 percent of the County’s 144 juvenile lifers in prison until they die; 60 individuals plus three on “conditional” terms, and seek terms of years for 81 others. She added that many of those with recommendations for terms of years would have recommendations higher than the minimum 25 years allowed under state statutes.
Since 2016, Wayne County juvenile lifers recommended for LWOP have fought a bitter uphill battle for their freedom.
VOD thoroughly covered the case of juvenile lifer Charles Lewis, publishing over 40 stories on nearly four years of re-sentencing hearings conducted by Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Qiana Lillard. During those years, as Lewis’ health and that of his mother continued to deteriorate, he fought unsuccessfully to have his conviction overturned due to the complete loss of his court file, under state precedential rulings.
Lewis was convicted in 1976 by racist Recorders Court Judge Joseph Maher of the murder of a white off-duty Detroit police officer, based on the coerced testimony of three younger juveniles.
His frame-up and conviction occurred during a period in Detroit of virulent attacks on Black youth and their families by whites angered because Blacks were moving into their neighborhoods, and white cops angered because Black cops were entering the police force. He always maintained his innocence, but was eventually re-sentenced to 40-60 years after spending 42 years in prison, and released in 2018.
His immediate release after his re-sentencing, and the release of others in similar situations, were due only to a federal court ruling by U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith that restored “good time” credits to re-sentenced juvenile lifers. That ruling was won by Atty. Deborah LaBelle and the Michigan chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in the face of inaction by the State Appellate Defenders Office (SADO), which Third Judicial Circuit Court Judge Timothy Kenny, then presiding judge of the criminal division, had appointed to represent indigent juvenile lifers.
Worthy continues to demonstrate complete callousness regarding juvenile lifers and others in the MDOC as the COVID-19 virus runs rampant through prison systems in Michigan and nationally.
On April 18, 2020, juvenile lifer William Garrison, who earlier was resentenced to a term of years and should have been released forthwith, died of COVID-19 in the Macomb Correctional Facility as he waited for Worthy’s office to register its formal approval of his release. A judge had ordered his release in January.
Garrison went to prison at the age of 16 in 1976, convicted of a murder during a robbery that went awry. He subsequently taught himself to read and write, studied the law, and became an advocate for other incarcerated persons.
Dozens of Ewing’s family members attended the protest July 2, which lasted from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in blazing heat. They included many of his young nieces and nephews, who chanted “Free Darrell,” “No Justice, No Peace, and “Corrupted Cops Affect Us All.”
Ewing’s fiancee Brentia Hudson (shown in video above), told VOD, “Darrell’s whole family is here, his mother, his father, sisters and brothers and their kids,” said Hutson. “Darrell is innocent. The real person who committed the murder has come forward.”
Above, Prince Jones, also a member of Prisoners Doing the Right Thing, said, “I came down here in support of the protest, getting rid of Kym Worthy. Prisoners deserve better treatment and Kym Worthy is not the one who’s going to give it to us.”
Worthy’s office was due to submit their appellate brief with reasons why they still oppose a new trial for Ewing and Searcy July 2, after obtaining an extended deadline, but it has still not been filed, adding months to the delay in holding a new trial.
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