Nicholas Hudson testified in 1999 against Sixth Pct. cops indicted during three-year FBI probe into cocaine trafficking by Detroit police
Defense: Hudson convicted of murder in 2000 after DPD dragnet to get false testimony, despite witnesses who testified he was not at crime scene
Police charged brother with “obstruction of justice” during Hudson’s trial, arrested second brother in front of jury
Case v. Hudson dismissed after first preliminary: mother of Hudson’s child testified Reynolds threatened to charge her, lock her up for life, take child
Cops, WCPO withheld Brady evidence: ID of man with murder victim at death, likely alternate suspects, other witnesses who did not testify–defense
Detroit police arrested three people per homicide during witness round-ups in the 1990’s, the highest rate in the country
Trial AP Michael J. King advocated sentence reduction, release of notorious jail-house snitch Joe Twilley for false testimony in over 20 other cases
By Diane Bukowski
April 30, 2023 Updated May 12, 2023
“I’m actually innocent of this crime,” Nicholas Hudson told VOD.
“It’s crazy how they can take a person’s life like this and take their time letting him go…I did everything people asked me to do to show my innocence, including passing a lie detector test, and I’m still sitting in here fighting for my life. To be in prison for 23 years for something you didn’t do is heartbreaking… I feel like the justice system let me down.”
Hudson, now 47, was sentenced to life without parole in 2000, for the first-degree murder of Ivory “Chip” Harris on Detroit’s near west side. The Wayne County prosecutor pursued the charges after Hudson testified in federal court against cops from Detroit’s Sixth (McGraw) Precinct, 1o of whom were indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on charges including conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Dozens of cops from other precincts were indicted in the three-year probe as well.
“Back in 1999, the City of Detroit struggled with police corruption within its police force. Nicholas Hudson. . . testified against the police officers of the 6th precinct who were the target of the federal investigation,” Hudson’s attorney Laurel Kelly Young says in a brief accompanying a motion for relief from judgment filed Dec. 7, 2022. “This was a prosecution that was fraught with corruption. In light of the bad faith of the Detroit Police and/or the prosecution, they obtained a false conviction of a man who is actually innocent.”
She asks for reversal of his conviction, or that the court order an evidentiary hearing to expand the record.
“It’s been very hard and depressing for us all knowing our brother is incarcerated for something he didn’t do,” Hudson’s brother Mark Hudson told VOD. “All because he testified against some cops that robbed him. During his trial they even arrested me in front of the jury in a case of mistaken identity. Our family won’t be complete until our brother is back home.”
A second brother, Percy Hudson. told VOD today he was charged with “obstruction of justice” in an assault on the daughter of the key prosecution witness at Hudson’s trial, but the young woman later testified in court in his support. He was charged April 15, 2000 during his brother’s trial after he and other family members testified for Nicholas. The case was finally dismissed on October 30, 2000 according to court records.
“My dad being in prison serving a life sentence for a crime he didn’t commit has been traumatic,” Nicholas Hudson’s daughter Ann (Hudson) White told VOD. “He’s a very active father and grandfather, so missing birthdays, holidays, graduations, seeing the birthing of his grandchildren, and even my wedding are all things that me and my family were robbed of. We can never get those moments back. The prison system doesn’t make visiting a pleasant experience for us at all. We are treated like criminals as well, only able to show affection in the beginning of our visit and at the end.”
(UPDATED): Hudson is now awaiting a hearing in front of 3rd Circuit Court Judge Mark T. Slavens on his motion for relief, which tells a harrowing story of witness round-ups, police coercion, and threats to charge witnesses and take their children. His case was recently re-assigned from the docket of Judge Bradley Cobb. A “post-conviction” event is posted for June 28, 2023 on Judge Slavens’ docket.
It also lays out Brady v. Maryland violations, including hiding the ID’s of eyewitnesses, a likely suspect, and a police report by a woman who lived with the murder victim. She told police the day after the murder that a different man had an ongoing conflict with Harris and was a likely suspect, but police never investigated him. See defense brief and exhibits linked below story.
The Wayne Co. Prosecutor charged that Hudson murdered Ivory “Chip” Harris Aug. 19, 1999, shooting him outside 14555 Stout on the city’s west side, allegedly because Hudson didn’t want drug dealers on his street.
Harris was killed just after he allegedly robbed Janet Inge, who lived at that address and was a self-admitted crack addict. They said he took a TV set to recoup $100 he gave her to let him sell drugs from the house. Police reported that they found the TV close to his body outside the house.
The trial started April 11, 200o, after charges were dismissed during Hudson’s first preliminary exam Nov. 11, 1999 due to a recantation by the mother of Hudson’s child, Kiahrenise Ransburg.
The only civilian witness at the exam, Ransburg testified she lied about Hudson to police after she was arrested and held along with his brothers, father, and others during witness round-ups for the case. She said Officer Lonze Reynolds threatened to charge her in the Harris murder, and take her 4-year-old child.
The DPD conducted rampant and unconstitutional witness dragnets throughout the 1990’s. They held those arrested in DPD HQ lock-ups for days, to obtain the testimony they desired.
In a 2007 deposition for the case of Moore v. City of Detroit, then DPD Det. Joann Kinney endorsed such round-ups. She claimed “probable cause” was the DPD’s BELIEF that a person MAY be involved in the crime, and “detention” was not the same as “arrest.” Regarding detained witnesses, she said “we may set them aside until they’re willing to cooperate.” Kinney has worked for Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy since 2012 after leaving DPD.
The Detroit Free Press reported in 2001 that the DPD arrested far more people during murder investigations than any other city in the country, three for every case. (The Freep also reported that in 1999, Detroit police had the highest rate of killing civilians in the U.S.)
The witness dragnets were one cause of the DOJ’s 11-year oversight of the DPD, which concluded in 2013 with a consent decree. Among other issues, the decree said DPD must “require written supervisory review of arrests for probable cause, as well as prohibit the detention or conveyance of an individual without reasonable suspicion, probable cause or consent from the individual.”
Officers involved in Hudson’s case ardently engaged in such witness round-ups, coercion, and threats in other cases as well, according to Hudson’s motion for relief from judgment. (See box at left.)
DETAILS OF THE NICHOLAS HUDSON CASE
Janet Inge, a self-admitted crack cocaine addict who is now deceased, was the Prosecution’s chief “eyewitness” at Hudson’s trial. Attachments to the defense brief include four contradictory statements she gave to police. Her live-in boyfriend, who told police he had put a stop to Harris’ drug sales at the house, said Inge could not have seen the shooting.
In a notarized affidavit signed in 2013, he swore that she was with him inside the house at the time, high on crack, and often told lies. He said the two first heard gunshots outside, and then a man came to their door to say there was a body on the street. He said police had coerced him to testify against Hudson. He said he testified only that he heard Inge say that she saw Hudson shoot Harris, but was never asked whether that was possible. (See affidavit below story.)
Hudson’s brother Mark Hudson and five others testified at his trial that he was with them at the time Harris was killed, not at the scene of the crime. Hudson lived down the street on Stout, but the alibi witnesses said they and Hudson drove back to his house from other locations after police had already cordoned off the scene at 14555 Stout after Harris was killed.
Roy Collier and his cousin Mario Collier said they rode in the car with Ivory Harris to the house at 14555 Stout, and stayed outside while Harris went inside with another man, who police never identified, a violation of Brady V. Maryland. No statement from the other man was obtained and/or included in Hudson’s file.
Neither cousin could identify Hudson in a police photo line-up Nov. 11, 1999. Roy Collier later said Det. Reynolds coerced him into testifying against Hudson.
DPD Sgt. Henry Ellis, first on the scene, wrote, “Writer believes Mr Blue and Ms Inge are good suspects because the compl took their tv. If that doesn’t work out, Mr Gardner might need a second look because the compl was trying to set up a dope house in his area.”
“Gardner” was the man police said controlled drug trafficking in the area. Police claimed Hudson killed Harris because he didn’t want drug sales on the street where he lived.
Young’s brief on behalf of Hudson theorizes that the fourth man in the car with Ivory Harris and the Collier cousins when they went to 14555 Stout address actually shot Harris after discovering that Harris “had botched his task of expanding their drug distribution to Stout St.”
“The police had investigated (name redacted) in conjunction with this case and shared none of it with the defense,” the brief says. “It appears from the suppressed documents that Ivory Harris and (name redacted) had been beefing for years. . . .(Name redacted) was intentionally suppressed by the 6th precinct to guarantee Nicholas Hudson’s conviction in retribution for Nicholas Hudson testifying in federal court regarding corruption in the 6th Precinct.”
VOD has separately found that Hudson’s trial AP Michael J. King also represented the prosecution on behalf of notorious jail-house snitch Joe Twilley on July 29, 1994, at his re-sentencing hearing in front of Judge John Shamo. Shamo reduced Twilley’s sentence on other charges to time served after testimony from Detroit cop Dale Collins who said he aided police in at least 20 other cases. http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Twilley.Resentencing-1.pdf
Testimony from Twilley and Collins was instrumental in the cases of multiple Wayne County defendants whose convictions were later overturned, including those Wayne County’s Conviction Integrity Unit says it exonerated.
Twilley’s role and that of other such informants was detailed in a series of articles in Truth Out magazine, featuring what the publication called “The Ring of Snitches.” One expert estimates that up to 80% of Wayne Co. convictions in the 90’s were false. Ring of Snitches: How Detroit Police Slapped False Murder Convictions on Young Black Men – Truthout.
TAMMY SOLOMON, NICHOLAS HUDSON’S SISTER, ADDS:
The impact of having a loved one wrongfully incarcerated is very hard on a person mentally, emotionally, physically. The fact that my brother has been locked up for over 20 plus years has been one of the hardest things to endure. Nicholas has missed out on so many life events and lost close family and friends all because of the same justice system that is supposed to give fair and equal justice.
It allowed criminal manipulation and dishonesty to control the narrative of my brother’s life. His case is one of many where lies, coercion and even wrongful handling of evidence cost my brother his freedom.
Our family has suffered so much by Nicholas being locked up and not being able to give much needed support to us especially to me during my bouts with mental illness, feeling as if I’ve let him down for not being capable of fighting for true justice for him about a crime that I as well as the judicial system knows that he didn’t commit. No one should have to go through birthdays, graduations, weddings and yes, even funerals while fighting for the release of a loved one. I see how easy it is to be locked up through my brother’s painful experience yet it’s a hard and long struggle. The laws that we have should be changed and updated to make it just as easy to be free when you’re wrongfully convicted of a crime that you didn’t commit.
The loss of freedom, the inability to get a job, or other things that are taken from you once you’ve been labeled a convicted felon and you’re eventually exonerated, you still wear that layer of being called a criminal. My brother Nicholas Hudson and the many more men and women who have been placed in a prison or jail for cooked up charges or false identification and so many other things need a system to figure out a way to fight just as hard to get them out as they fought to put them behind bars.
Brief and exhibits:
http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Nicholas-Hudson-brief-Laurel-Kelly-Young-2.pdf. and http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/NIcholas-Hudson-Brief-Attachments6797.pdf
Joann Kinney Deposition:
Witness affidavit by man with chief prosecution witness at time of murder
Transcript of Joe Twilley Resentencing:
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