MICH. HIGH COURT GRANTED ROOSEVELT PETTIFORD’S APPEAL 2 YRS. AGO; NO ACTION FROM CIU AFTER 4 YRS.

 Above: 2018 Rally  vs. Wrongful Convictions of  Pettiford, others. Prior to court hearings Aug. 3, 2018, families gathered outside the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in Detroit to protest wrongful convictions of loved ones including Roosevelt Pettiford. Afterwards, Pettiford received word that Wayne County Conviction Integrity Unit was taking his case. They have not yet announced any resolution.)

DPD PO Gerald Williams, AP Molly Kettler falsely claimed major direct eyewitness to murder gave a fake address to avoid testifying 

Prosecution’s main witness recanted ID at trial, but Judge Annette Berry allowed jury to hear previous false statement

No physical evidence at trial

Michigan Supreme Court granted Pettiford appeal March 18, 2020, denied Wayne Co. CIU’s request to delay ruling

Four years after Wayne Co. CIU took case, Pettiford remains among 1700 prisoners still on “wait” list 

By Diane Bukowski

(Ed. Note: VOD reviewed extensive documentation in Pettiford’s case, including court records and defense counsel filings. before publishing this story.)

July 3, 2022

   ROOSEVELT PETTIFORD       Family photo

DETROIT— Lifer Roosevelt Pettiford is one of 1700 applicants whose cases have been in limbo at the Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) of the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, in his case, for almost four years.

“No decision has been made,” Maria Miller, Chief of Communications for Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy, told VOD. “The case has not been presented to Prosecutor Worthy.”

But the Michigan Supreme Court granted Pettiford’s motion for relief from judgment tw0 years ago, on March 18, 2020. They ordered an evidentiary hearing on his claims that police lied about witness testimony that would have exonerated him. The high court refused to grant the CIU’s motion to suspend the ruling while it investigated the case.

That hearing has yet to happen. See MSC ruling at: http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Roosevelt-Pettiford-MSC-evidentiary-hearing-order-3-18-2020-1.pdf

Pettiford was convicted of the Nov. 1, 2005 murder of Vinson Ellington, 24, at a Marathon Gas station located at 2844 E. Grand Blvd. and Oakland Ave. Ellington was shot multiple times, first in the back while standing at a gas pump, and then as he lay on the ground.

Sheila Vincent, mother of Roosevelt Pettiford’s son.

The CIU initially took Pettiford’s case after the protest by Pettiford’s supporters and others (shown above). After the MSC ruling, they talked Pettiford and others into allowing them to continue their investigation prior to the evidentiary hearing granted by the high court.

“I’m here to free my son’s father because he is innocent,” Sheila Vincent told VOD during the 2018 protest. “He’s in there because of folks lying that they could not find the person that would set him free.”

She referred to the trial testimony of the Detroit Police Officer in Charge (OIC) of Pettiford’s case, Gerald Williams.

Williams, who died in 2016, claimed a direct eyewitness to the murder of Vinson Ellington Nov. 1, 2005, Joyci Riley, had given him a fake address to avoid testifying. Asst. Prosecutor Molly Kettler backed up his testimony to the judge and jury, citing “the overall  unwillingness of people to come to court and testify.”

That testimony was thoroughly debunked on appeal.

Police and court records show that Riley gave her 2005-06 address of 2500 W. Grand Blvd. to police during an interview directly after the killing.  That address is Young Manor,  a well-known 12-story federally subsidized property. Williams claimed the closest building to that address was the former GM Building at 3044 W. Grand Blvd., 1.2 miles away from Young Manor.  Riley also gave other addresses for her job and her church where she could be found. Williams did not testify that he actually went to any address to find her.

DPD interview with Joyci Riley shortly after murder of Lamont Ellington.

But the warrant for the case cites Yolanda Browning as the key witness, with no mention of Joyci Riley. In listings of witnesses, Riley is shown as an “unknown witness.”  But Riley was seen at the location of the murder by other prosecution witnesses, as well as a DPD officer who responded to the scene. Browning recanted her testimony at trial, where she said that her original statement to the police was false, and that she was angry because she claimed Pettiford had assaulted her niece in an unrelated incident. Another witness swore that Browning was at her home, not at the site of the killing when it happened.

In 2018, Private Investigator Scott Lewis obtained a sworn affidavit from Riley giving more extensive details regarding what she witnessed. See: http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/R-Pettiford-Ex-A-to-CIU-Spp-Summary-Joyci-Riley-Transcript-of-Second-Interview-2.pdf

(Top l to r) DPD Det. Gerald Williams, AP Molly Kettler; (Bottom) Young Manor, 2500 W. Grand Blvd. where key witness lived in 2005. Williams and Kettler claimed she gave them false address.

Police records show that officers at the crime scene talked eagerly to multiple individuals who claimed Pettiford had hurt or killed their  relatives in unrelated cases, even enlisting them as key witnesses although they did not see the murder and their  statements were nothing more than hearsay. Police devoted many pages to each hearsay report.

“Joyci Riley said that the killer was short and wore a mask,” paralegal Roberto Guzman, who worked on Pettiford’s appeal to the Supreme Court, told VOD. “Her description of him wearing a mask was something the jury never knew. It undercut Yolanda Browning’s two statements to police falsely identifying Roosevelt as the killer.”

Riley elaborated on her witness statement in a sworn affidavit obtained by private investigator Scott Lewis in 2018.

Browning told police pre-trial that the killer had no mask or head covering and that she clearly saw his face. Other prosecution witnesses said the killer did have his face obscured. Browning also claimed the victim was shot first in the face, a version contradicted by autopsy reports.

Roberto Guzman with Sherena Cotton, mother of exoneree Marvin Cotton, in 2016. Guzman has worked on that case and many others for decades.

“No one has ever testified that Pettiford killed the victim.” Guzman said. “The only evidence before the jury was Browning’s out of court statement, and this unsworn document made the difference between a guilty or a not guilty verdict. This is why it was so important for Sgt. Williams and the prosecutor not to have Ms. Riley come to court and testify, because her testimony that the killer wore a hood and had on a mask would have caused a not guilty verdict.  What you have in this case is a witness and a prosecutor who lied to a sitting jury in a capital case.”

Since Pettiford’s trial, other witnesses have come forward, one of whom said that he saw the actual shooting by a man he named. That man is now deceased.

Valerie Newman, Director of the Wayne Co. Prosecutor’s Conviction Integrity Unit, has communicated frequently with Pettiford’s attorney Cornell Pettiford (his uncle) and paralegal Guzman during the years his case has been under review by them. In a recent email, Newman told Atty. Pettiford that her review of the case was completed, and it was awaiting a decision by Prosecutor Worthy, a claim that was denied by Maria Miller on Worthy’s behalf in the statement at opening of the story.

Polygrapher James Hoppe (l) CIU Dir. Valerie Newman (r)

The CIU required Pettiford to pass a polygraph exam, as they frequently have done with other applicants for exoneration. Newman recommended polygrapher James Hoppe, a  former FBI agent, for a second exam after the first was inconclusive.  Defense Atty. Pettiford hired him, and he conducted a second polygraph exam.

But he allegedly revealed the results to Newman,  although he should have gone instead to defense Atty. Pettiford. Afterwards, Pettiford passed a third polygraph exam with a different examiner.

Hoppe is currently at the center of a dispute in an Oakland County murder case, where the defendant Floyd Galloway was convicted of the 2016 murder of Danielle Stislicki, who worked in the office building where Galloway was a security guard. Hoppe, hired by Galloway’s defense attorney, allegedly revealed the results of his polygraph to a personal friend, who then revealed them to the Farmington Hills Police Chief Charles Nebus. Nebus used the results to get warrants to search Galloway’s car, phone and home. His defense attorney is calling for the suppression of that evidence.

On its application, the Wayne County CIU says, “All claimants who file papers with CIU should be aware, however, that the evidence developed by CIU during its investigation will be shared with other units within the Prosecutor’s Office.” This disclaimer is at the end of the application, but many individuals believe the CIU is independent of the Prosecutor’s Office.

Philly DA Larry Krasner with exonerees from his CIU unit.

The CIU Application used by Philadelphia D.A. Larry Krasner includes a much clearer caveat: “The prosecutors in the CIU at the District Attorney’s Office do not represent you and cannot offer you legal advice. A prosecutor cannot legally or ethically be your attorney. If you do not understand any of the above, you should consult an attorney immediately.”

Pettiford says he is currently weighing his options as he approaches his 16th year of incarceration. He no longer faces Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Annette Berry if he opts to continue with the court proceedings and leave the CIU review.

He is now on the docket of Judge Paul Cusick, appointed to the bench by former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder in 2016, Ricardo Guzman told VOD. Judge Cusick graduated from Notre Dame University and got his law degree at Wayne State University. His Ballotpedia website note says he was an assistant attorney general prior to becoming judge.

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 VOD’s staff lives either on limited fixed incomes or is incarcerated. We are not paid; we publish the newspaper pro bono. Help keep us afloat by chipping in so stories on this Prison Nation and Police State, and related matters, can keep coming! Any amount is appreciated.

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MICH. LIFER NOSAKHARE ONUMONU WON NEW TRIAL BEFORE JUDGE TRACY GREEN DEC. 2021, FIGHT GOES ON

LIFER NOSAKHARE ONOMONU (bottom) REACTS WITH JOYFUL TEARS DEC. 20, 2021 AS JUDGE TRACY E. GREEN GRANTS MOTION FOR RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT

Judge Tracy E. Green granted  Michigan lifer Nosakhare Onumonu’s motion for new trial Dec. 21, 2021, after his pro se presentation 

Through FOIA, Onumonu acquired substantial evidence favorable to defense that had been suppressed by DPD, prosecution

Judge Green patiently examined evidence, agreed with Onumonu that if it had it been presented at trial, acquittal more likely than not

Judge Green currently on paid administrative leave pending resolution of JTC complaint, can still dispose of matters on cases previously in progress

Next hearing date July 27, 2022

By Diane Bukowski

June 29, 2022

Nosakhare Onumonu with (l to r) Niece Deserae, Mother Denise, and Sister Lisa.

DETROIT — “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit,” O.J. Simpson’s attorney Johnnie Cochran famously told his client’s jury regarding a glove found at the scene of the 1995 murder of Nicole Brown. It didn’t fit, and Simpson was acquitted.

Nosakhare Onumonu, convicted in 2015 of the 1999 murder of 94-year-old Helen  Klocek of Plymouth, MI asks a different question about the glove used to convict him–did it exist? The glove doesn’t appear in police department criminal records until 2007, and was not examined for trace DNA evidence until 2011, according to reports viewed by VOD.

The Detroit Police Department sent the glove in question to the Michigan State Police Forensic Lab for what testing of what is known as “touch trace” DNA evidence only after Onumonu was belatedly identified as a suspect in 2011.

“This whole case revolves around a glove and then it’s built on inference after inference after inference,” Onomuno told Third Circuit Court Judge Tracy E. Green at the opening of arguments on his motion for relief from judgment in 2021.

(L) Glove allegedly found in victim’s car in Onumono case; (r) Johnnie Cochran with gloves he cited in O.J. acquittal.

Acting in pro per, Onumonu continued with a powerful presentation on his case which countered subsequent media accounts depicting a depraved Black man preying on an elderly white woman. (e.g. DNA on glove helps solve 1999 Detroit cold case (clickondetroit.com).

Murder victim Klocek lived in Plymouth, Michigan and had gone out for lunch at a local restaurant before her murder. Her body was found in an alleyway behind Joy Rd. in Detroit on March 2, 1999. Her white Ford Escort car, which had been torched, was found Mar. 4 several miles away in a church parking lot on Grand River.

Onumonu’s  presentation centered around his discovery of evidence that had been suppressed during his trial, in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). That U.S. Supreme Court ruling and others which followed in its wake said all exculpatory evidence (favorable to the defense) must be promptly disclosed by police and prosecution.

In his case, a Freedom of Information Act request produced documentation hidden from his defense, largely in files from the Plymouth Police Department, including (see below).

On Dec. 21, 2021, Judge Green granted Onomonu’s motion for a new trial, acknowledging three of his four claims: fraud upon the court by a detective, perjury by a detective that was significant to his conviction, and a Brady violation by withholding exculpatory evidence. She noted that it appeared Sgt. Henry Ellis and other Detroit Police officers had indeed lied about the existence of other suspects, and that suppression of evidence of those suspects and the 1999 eyewitness sketch made it more likely than not under Brady that a jury would  have acquitted him if they had seen that evidence.

DPD Sgt. Henry Ellis, from his FB page.

Judge Green had several more hearings afterwards, with the prosecution trying to say that an evidentiary hearing instead of an immediate new trial was the proper relief.  The last date she ruled on the case was June 9, 2022 according to court records. Since that time, she has been on a paid administrative leave while she resolves a Judicial Tenure Commission complaint that is pending before the Michigan Supreme Court.

VOD does not have responses from the prosecutor’s office to Onumonu’s filings, as they are not currently available to the public. The Third Judicial Circuit Court building, where the records are held, is closed, with no access to the Clerk’s office to request publicly available court files. No links to the documents are provided on the court’s website.

Also due to this restriction, which violates various state and federal laws, VOD currently cannot  review the actual court file in this case for complete accuracy of most issues reported in this story.

Sgt. Michael Russell

Among the evidence hidden in police files were progress reports from Sgt. Ellis, who handled the case from its outset in 1999. During his presentation, Onumonu cited Ellis’ testimony at his trial that he did not submit the glove in question for DNA trace evidence testing during the time after the murder, because he had no suspects. However, Onumonu said, police progress reports from 1999 showed that Ellis was investigating two other suspects.

Onumonu has filed motions previously requesting that the glove be barred from evidence due to chain of custody issues, but the judges on his case denied the motions.

DPD Progress Report by Sgt. Henry Ellis dated April 30. 1999 citing one of two suspects in the murder case.

Prosecutors including the Wayne County Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) also produced graphs which claimed that Onumonu was working at a plant near to Ms. Klocek’s apartment, where they said the type of glove allegedly found in her car was commonly used by multiple workers. In the graphs, they noted the short distance from his mother’s house in Detroit to the locations where Ms. Klocek’s car and body were separately found.

Wayne Co. AP Jason Williams and Valerie Newman, then a SADO attorney, at 2016 hearing.

Onumonu says he was not living with his mother, but in Dearborn Heights at the time. The Wayne Co. CIU reviewed his case twice earlier, according to Onumonu and his mother, and rejected it for further processing. They say that CIU director Valerie Newman showed up at an initial hearing in front of Judge Green, but that Onumonu rejected her participation.

Plymouth Twp. police reported 1n 1999 that they had been investigating multiple burglaries there, many of them involving senior citizens.

Police said the burglaries had taken place in apartments that were temporarily unoccupied while the residents had gone out to work or other matters. They cautioned residents to watch out for cars cruising slowly in the neighborhoods and for any ‘suspicious’ people on foot, and report those to the police.

Suppressed 1999 sketch of purse snatching suspect in case.

One eyewitness saw TV coverage of the case in 1999 and contacted police, saying she saw a woman resembling Mrs. Klocek driving with a Black man, in a white car. She was shown a composite sketch of a purse-snatching suspect and said he looked similar to the man. She described him as light-complected, likely with light-colored eyes.

That witness from 1999 was brought forward in 2012 to testify against Onumonu at two preliminary examinations. Both resulted in dismissals of the charges due to the years that had passed since the witness said she sighted the suspect, and the witness’ inability to identify Onumonu in court, among other factors.

Onomonu says that he filed a Brady motion to dismiss the charges again, which was circumvented when the judge in the case at that time privately met with defense and prosecution attorneys in his offices and decided to remand the case back to the 36th District Court for more proceedings.

Onumonu had been convicted on an armed robbery charge in 1999, and was sentenced to two to five years in prison. He was being paroled in 2o11 after serving his time, when police and prosecutors intervened in the parole with an arrest warrant in the Klocek case, and he was remanded to custody again. Court records show that he remained in prison for four more years, while the proceedings in that case took place. He was not tried in the Klocek case until 2015.

WAYNE 3RD JUDICIAL CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE TRACY E. GREEN

Judge Tracy E. Green

Third Judicial Circuit Court Corporate Counsel Richard Lynch told VOD, “Judge Green is currently on administrative leave as approved by SCAO [State Court Administrator’s Office.]  Judge Giovan is the visiting judge assigned to her docket.  Formal complaints issued by the Judicial Tenure Commission are matters of public record.”

In 2019, the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission (JTC) brought charges against Judge Green stemming from a custody dispute between her son and his wife during divorce proceedings. Custody was granted to her son, who later was convicted of child abuse and sent to prison.

The JTC charges said Judge Green did not report her knowledge of the abuse. They were based on the testimony of the two young children to the Judicial Tenure Commission. Currently, the Michigan Supreme Court, the only entity that can actually remove a judge from the bench, has the charges under review.

According to public filings on the JTC website at Welcome To Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission, Judge Green is represented by the Bloomfield Hills-based firm of Plunket Cooney, and is vigorously contesting the charges, which were initiated while she was running for election.  As in Onumonu’s case, the mainstream media has indiscriminately smeared Judge Green without citing her publicly available responses. As a sitting judge, she cannot respond publicly to the charges lodged against her.

Screenshot of Nosakhare Onumonu’s hearing June 29; top left is Judge William Giovan. Atty. Peter Ellenson is currently assisting as defense counsel, AP Brittney Taratuta is at top right.During a scheduled hearing today on the case, Judge William Giovan said, “I was instructed by the Chief Judge that all matters that had been submitted to Judge Green and argued and were awaiting only a decision from Judge Green were to be decided by Judge Green. This case calls for Judge Green to rule on it. I agree with the defendant that it seems she issued an inconsistent order. I’m going going to recap what’s happened today and tell Judge Green that the parties are awaiting further action on her part on this matter.”

Judge Giovan set another meeting date for July 27 and said he would send copies to both the prosecution and the defense of his written request to Judge Green.

 VOD’s staff lives either on limited fixed incomes or is incarcerated. We are not paid; we publish the newspaper pro bono. Help keep us afloat by chipping in so stories on this Prison Nation and Police State, and related matters, can keep coming! Any amount is appreciated.

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CELEBRATE JUNETEENTH! FREE DARRELL EWING, ALL OTHERS WRONGFULLY CONVICTED, UNJUSTLY SENTENCED


On JUNETEENTH, 2 MILLION STILL ENSLAVED

FREE DARRELL EWING, DERRICO SEARCY

Ewing’s pre-trial motions for bond, judicial notice of  tainted ID testimony at first trial  are now before Wayne Co. Judge Darnella Williams-Clayborne

Motion for bond cites People v. Davis, landmark 2021 ruling by state appellate court that bond in capital cases can be granted. COA 354927 PEOPLE OF MI V REGINALD LAMARR DAVIS Opinion – Authored – Published 04/22/2021 (michigan.gov)

Young relatives of Tamerra Washington participated  in rally of hundreds at Frank Murphy Hall June 4, 2021.

Ewing, co-defendant Derrico Searcy won new trial Oct. 22, 2020, ten years after conviction of 2009 J.B. Watson murder

FBI told AP Kam Towns before first trial they had reliable evidence another man committed the crime, she ignored them.

Tyree Washington’s 2017 Mirandized confession, given to MSP detective, hidden in official files till 2021

Ewing, others held in Wayne Co. Jail beyond speedy trial limits file federal lawsuit vs. Wayne Co. Sheriff Raphael Washington and WCCC  Chief Judge Timothy Kenny challenging illegal detentions and torturous jail conditions. — DETAILS ON THIS TO BE PROVIDED IN STORY TO COME.

By Diane Bukowski

June 20, 2022

DETROIT — Millions celebrated this country’s first Juneteenth holiday this week,  commemorating the liberation of enslaved peoples after the Civil War with fireworks, dance, song, and prayer. But under the provisions of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, over two million people remain enslaved in U.S. prisons as a result of mass incarceration, the majority of them Black, descendants of those enslaved peoples.

Among the two million are Darrell Ewing and Derrico Searcy. Wayne Third Circuit Court Judge Darnella Williams-Claybourne is currently reviewing Darrell Ewing’s motions for pre-trial bond, to free him while Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy pursues the case against him and his co-defendant Derrico Searcy. They were charged for the Dec. 2009 murder of J.B. Watson on Detroit’s east side. He has also filed a motion for judicial notice of false pre-trial identification evidence in the case.

Top: Darrell Ewing (l), Derrico Searcy (r) Bottom: Wayne Co. Pros. Kym Worthy

On Oct. 22, 2020, an Appeals Court overturned their convictions and ordered a new trial. On Aug. 30, 2021, defense attorneys revealed Tyree Washington’s Mirandized confession to the murder, given to a Michigan State Police detective in 2017, and hidden in the prosecutor’s files while the defendants’ appeals have been ongoing.

Wayne Co. Asst. Prosecutor Kam Towns, who quietly retired June 1 of this year, was the chief architect of the case, basing it on unproven assumptions that the murder was gang-related, leading to jury misconduct on social media about gangs. State courts overturned the verdict on that basis. Proceedings for a new trial in the case are currently paused, pending a Michigan Court of Appeals ruling on Ewing’s interlocutory appeal of his motion for dismissal due to Brady disclosure violations and other issues.

Ewing’s current motion for appeal bond says,  “From the start of this case–and this writer is talking about a decade ago, July 21, 2010, our nation’s highest and most respected government agency–the FBI–alerted the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, that a mistake was likely taking place,”

“To show, Agents brought forth one of their top informants. He was taken in front of multiple grand juries about the present matter and found to be credible… Christopher Richardson disclosed that his very own blood cousin William Beal and and [his] federally charged co-defendant, Tyree Washington was/is responsible for the instant crimes and charges presently in front of this court.” 

The motion is based in part on a landmark ruling from the Michigan’s appellate courts. See: COA 354927 PEOPLE OF MI V REGINALD LAMARR DAVIS Opinion – Authored – Published 04/22/2021 (michigan.gov)

Ewing’s motion for bond points out,

“”Pursuant to Const 1963, Art 1, § 15, a defendant is entitled to have bail set by the trial court except in certain circumstances, such as when defendant is charged with murder and the proof of defendant’s guilt is evident or the presumption great, Davis at HN 18. . . .it is becoming crystal clear to many that the proofs of Defendant’s innocence is evident. This Court has in front of it, a Mirandized confession, multiple acts of suppression, and polygraph results to bolster Ewing’s innocence.”

The motion also argues that further confinement in the Wayne County Jail under torturous conditions including the spread of COVID-19 endangers Ewing’s life. It cites Ewing’s family and community ties, including the support of hundreds of letters in his federal pleadings for compassionate release, in front of U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Murphy.

Judge Murphy ruled June 9,  “I will appoint counsel from the Federal Community Defenders Office to represent Defendant for his compassionate release and resentencing motions. . . .The Court expects that Defendant’s appointed counsel will file a new motion for compassionate release and resentencing after the en banc Sixth Circuit issues a ruling in McCall.” See  http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Darrell-Ewing-Appointment-of-Federal-Defender-2-22-cr-20178-2.pdf and  http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Darrell-Ewing-Murphy-order-6-9-22-United_States_of_America_v_Gaskin_et_al__miedce-11-20178__0541.0-2.pdf.

In his “Motion to Take Judicial Notice of Key Facts that Lend Credence to the Granting of Bond,” Ewing notes that eyewitness identifications are the most common factor leading to to wrongful convictions in the U.S. Citing trial transcripts, he breaks down factors in the eyewitness identifications at his trial by Raymond Love and his wife Jendayi Love, who were stopped in traffic at the scene of the shooting of J.B. Watson.

Raymond Love: Saw shooter for “a few brief seconds.” In photo line-ups, only said “he looks close,” “never 100% sure,” “out of all the people in the pictures, he was him.” At trial, he said he was “guessing” at face,” “viewed the shooter through the rearview mirror while leaning on my wife’s lap,”  “my first and immediate selection was photo #2, a wrong person,” fdmet with prosecutors during trial “to get their ducks in order.”

Jendayi Love: viewed shooter through “the rearview mirror,” “for a few seconds,” “two quick seconds,” “took close to five minutes” to select Ewing’s photo, “FELT like it was the shooter,” and her height “made it a little difficult to see through the rearview mirror.”

Below is expert analysis of such claims by lawyers and legal experts on the podcast series “Undisclosed” at Undisclosed Podcast (undisclosed-podcast.com)It is one of a series of six podcasts on the Ewing/Searcy case and focuses on issues related to the identifications made by the Loves.

STORY ON PRISONERS LAWSUIT V. WAYNE CO. JAIL TO COME

Wayne Co. Sheriff Raphael Washington (l), WCCC Chief Judge Timothy Kenny

Ewing and dozens of others held in the Wayne Co. Jail far past state and federal mandates on speedy trials, have filed a federal lawsuit against Wayne County Sheriff Raphael Washington and WCCC Chief Judge Timothy Kenny challenging illegal detentions and torturous conditions in the jail. Numerous affidavits from the men detailing their claims are attached to the lawsuits.

For an overview of Darrell Ewing’s battle for freedom from his wrongful conviction, listen to Maggie Freleng, nationally acclaimed journalist in this “Unjust/Unsolved” podcast. Previous VOD stories on these cases are listed below that.

RELATED: 

VIDEO VISITS TO INMATES AT WAYNE COUNTY JAILS SHUT DOWN, ACCESS TO FAMILIES, COURTS CURTAILED | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

UNLAWFUL, UNJUST! RALLY THURSDAY MAR. 17 TO FREE WRONGLY HELD PRISONERS; OPEN VISITS, COURTS, FILES | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

FAMILIES MARCH FOR MEN HELD WITHOUT TRIAL UP TO 4 YEARS IN WAYNE CO. JAIL; DEMAND “OPEN THE COURTS” | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

DID PROS. KYM WORTHY AND DPD SUPPRESS KILLER’S CONFESSION IN EWING/SEARCY CASE? HEARING DEC. 1 | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

DID WAYNE CO. PROS. HIDE KILLER’S CONFESSION TO MSP IN EWING-SEARCY CASE, USE DPD TO STOP RETRIAL? | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

DETROIT: FAMILIES OF WRONGFULLY CONVICTED TELL PROS. KYM WORTHY, POLICE, JUDGES–‘FREE THEM ALL’ | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

8 JUDGES SAID EWING, SEARCY DENIED ‘FAIR TRIAL’ IN 2010; KYM WORTHY: WE WILL PRESENT SAME CASE MAY 19, 2021 | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

DARRELL EWING, DERRICO SEARCY IN DETROIT COURT APRIL 13, NEW TRIAL ORDERED BY 8 STATE, U.S. JUDGES | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought 

APPEALS CT. UPHOLDS NEW TRIAL ORDER IN ‘GANG’ SOCIAL MEDIA CONVICTIONS OF DARRELL EWING, DERRICO SEARCY | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought  Continue reading

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ADVOCATES CONDEMN MICHIGAN AG’S DENIAL OF RELIEF FOR LIFER TEMUJIN KENSU, SAY CIU HAS BETRAYED ALL

Kensu’s defense attorney Imran Syed of the Michigan Innocence Clinic appears in several sections of the video above, as “Kensu’s attorney.”

Michigan AG Dana Nessel’s Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) denied lifer Temujin Kensu’s application for exoneration May 17

Valerie Newman, head of the Wayne County CIU,  acting as Nessel’s “Special Asst. AG,” wrote the denial letter

What does Newman’s role in denying relief to Kensu mean for 1,700 applicants waiting in the Wayne County CIU?

Kensu was 400 miles away from Port Huron, the site of the 1986 murder of Scott Macklen with which he is charged, according to multiple witnesses

“. . .Kensu could not have committed and did not in fact commit the crime for which the state is taking away the entire rest of his life, now 35 years on.” U.S. Reps. Andy Levin and Rashida Tlaib, Michigan Sen. Stephanie Chang

David Shelton, whose DNA as a Black man ruled out the crime of rape and murder for which he has served 28 years, is among 1000+ AG/CIU applicants–what is planned in their cases?

TEMUJIN AND PAULA KENSU CELEBRATED XMAS 2021 WITH THIS CARD.

By Diane Bukowski

May 30, 2022

Temujin Kensu with fiancée Paula Kensu

DETROIT–The denial of relief for Michigan lifer Temujin Kensu, now 59, by state Attorney General (AG) Dana Nessel’s Conviction Integrity Unit on May 17 has brought about a firestorm of support for Kensu and scathing criticism of the CIU’s action.

It was not based on an evaluation of his ACTUAL INNOCENCE, but instead on AG guidelines derived from state court rules, despite the Attorney General’s broad discretionary powers. Those rules are superseded by state law MCL 770.1, which says a judge can grant a new trial “when it appears to the court that justice has not been done.”

Paula Kensu, Temujin’s fiancée, called the denial “a duplicitous action intended to deny Temujin Kensu freedom from his wrongful conviction/life sentence for a murder that absolutely everybody knows he did not commit.”

Multiple witnesses have testified that Kensu was in Escanaba, 400 miles away from Port Huron, the site of the murder for which he is charged, when it happened.

Kensu has been in prison since 1986, convicted of the murder of Scott Macklem in the parking lot of St. Clair Community College in Port Huron. Macklem’s fiancée was Kensu’s former girlfriend. The prosecution claimed the motive was jealousy. To refute the testimony of numerous witnesses at trial that Kensu was 400 miles away when the murder happened, Asst. Prosecutor Robert Cleland, now a U.S. District Court Judge, claimed Kensu, who was penniless, “could have” chartered a plane and flown to Port Huron to kill Macklem.

(l to r) US Reps. Andy Levin, Rashida Tlaib; MI Sen. Stephanie Chang

U.S. District Court Judge Denise Page Hood (now Chief Judge) cited prosecutorial misconduct as one reason for granting Kensu’s “habeas” appeal. It was later overturned by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on a minor technicality.

In 2020, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer denied clemency to Kensu, based on a recommendation of the Michigan Parole Board, which generally focuses only on the original charge brought against a prisoner.

On May 23, U.S. Reps. Andy Levin, D-Bloomfield Township, and Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, and Michigan Sen. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit told Whitmer in a letter:

“We were deeply disappointed to learn that the Michigan Attorney General’s Conviction Integrity Unit, known as the CIU, has declined to pursue the release of Temujin Kensu, an innocent Michigander who has been in prison for more than three decades. . . despite no physical evidence connecting him to the murder and several vetted eyewitnesses who place him more than 400 miles away from the scene of the crime, Kensu remains imprisoned.”

They continued, “As longtime advocates for social justice, we believe that we must do more for Temujin Kensu and all wrongfully imprisoned individuals across the globe. In Kensu’s case, all available options for relief must be pursued. The court allows for relief based on actual innocence and, Article V, Section 14 of the Michigan Constitution confers upon our Governor the power to ‘grant reprieves, commutations and pardons after convictions for all offenses, except cases of impeachment.’ We pray that those with the power to grant relief conduct a full review and grant relief to Mr. Kensu.”

Atty. Valerie Newman 

Valerie Newman’s May 17 letter to Kensu’s defense attorney, Imran Syed of the Michigan Innocence Project, said she had been appointed as special assistant to the AG to review Kensu’s case due to a “conflict” within the CIU involving its Director Robyn Frankel.  She declared Kensu’s case had been closed without action.

VOD contacted the AG’s office for further information on the conflict, but received no response.

Newman wrote: “The AG guidelines mandate there must be new evidence supporting factual innocence. New evidence means evidence not at all considered at trial or during post-conviction appeals.”

http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Valerie-Newman-AG-letter.pdf

Valerie Newman also heads the Wayne County  Conviction Integrity Unit, which is reviewing the cases of 1,700 applicants, many of whom have been waiting for years. Her action on Tensu’s case throws into question what will happen to other Wayne Co. CIU applicants.

That unit is already under attack from the City of Detroit Police Department and its Corporation Counsel. Complaining of the impact of the millions in settlements on the City’s budget, they claim some of the unit’s 31 “exonerations” to date are not valid. The unit’s own statements that many of those releases do not involve exonerations, but are due to unfair trials and other issues, has complicated the issue.

Newman’s stance on Kensu’s case runs counter to what Robyn Frankel  told “Proving Innocence,” an organization originally set up by former TV news reporter Bill Proctor.

“We are aghast and disgusted with the CIU and your decision not to grant justice to a wholly innocent man, Temujin Kensu (aka., Fredrick Freeman),” said William T. Branham, Jr. President, and B. David Sanders Vice-President, of Proving Innocence in a letter to AG Nessel.

“This is unconscionable and unacceptable and a betrayal of your claim the CIU would fight for true justice for the wrongfully convicted. That is hardly the case and the CIU is being  revealed as an empty vessel that will continue to do very little on behalf of those wrongfully convicted by our justice system.”

They continued, “Most disturbing, is that we and so many others were misled by the CIU in its mission and intentions. Now, and only after your CIU’s review of Mr. Kensu’s case has concluded, we learn you have completely changed the definition of “new evidence”.

The two officials said Robyn Frankel had told them in a text, “Evidence which was not presented to the jury (though it might have been known at the time of trial) may be considered ‘new evidence’ for CIU purposes. . .Also, any evidence which illustrates that a person is innocent of the offense will be considered by the unit. This would include police or prosecutor misconduct where that misconduct implicates a person’s factual innocence.”

http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Proving-Innocence-Letter-to-Nessel-re-Temujin-Kensu.pdf

But in her letter to Syed, Newman wrote: “The AG guidelines mandate there must be new evidence supporting factual innocence. New evidence means evidence not at all considered at trial or during post-conviction appeals.”

AMICUS BRIEF IN PEOPLE V. SWAIN  CAN RESOLVE ISSUES IN KENSU’S CASE, THOUSANDS MORE WITH ACTUAL INNOCENCE CLAIMS

Lorinda Swain after her final exoneration. 

In 2015, nine esteemed prosecutors filed an amicus brief as requested by the Michigan Supreme Court in the case of People v. Lorinda Swain SC: 150994 (Mich. May. 18, 2016). It points out that, despite complex Michigan Court Rules regarding “new evidence,” Michigan has an alternative and superseding standard for granting justice in actual innocence cases.

The current and former prosecutors were John Smietanka, Thomas Cranmer, James Samuels, Thomas Rombach, Gerald Gleeson II, Saul Green, Fred Mester, Anthony Badovinac, and Brandon Hultink.

After beginning the brief with the statement in red above, they write in part,  “. . .MCL 770.1 stands as a substantive ground for relief independent of any provided by the Michigan Court Rules. The State of Michigan passed MCL 770.1 into law to correct wrongful convictions within the State of Michigan, by providing substantive relief from judgment from trial courts ‘when it appears to the court that justice has not been done.’ Statutes passed into law in the State of Michigan may not be overridden by court rules. . . MCL 770.1 stands as a substantive law independent of the Michigan Court Rules.”

They add. . .”MCL 770.2(4) states that a court of record may always “grant a motion for a new trial for good cause shown.” The brief eventually recommends that the state Supreme Court grant Swain’s motion, which it did, resulting in her exoneration.

See brief at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Amicus-Brief-for-Michigan-Supreme-Court-re-Lorinda-Swain-Smietanka-et-al.pdf.

Isn’t it interesting, that John Smietanka, former U.S. attorney for the Western District of Michigan, and Saul Green, former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, and seven other prosecutors, hired a law firm to present their opinion on behalf of DEFENDANTS, not just Swain, but ALL Michigan defendants in this matter of ACTUAL INNOCENCE?

Related stories:

ADVOCATES DENOUNCE GOV. WHITMER’S DENIAL OF CLEMENCY TO INNOCENT MICH. LIFER TEMUJIN KENSU | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

Nessel draws criticism from supporters over review of ’86 murder conviction (detroitnews.com)

Finley: ‘I’m sentenced to die in this place.’ Temujin Kensu needs help (detroitnews.com)

https://voiceofdetroit.net/2020/05/31/exposed-racist-frame-up-of-david-shelton-by-oakland-county-in-1993-rape-case/

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 VOD’s staff lives either on limited fixed incomes or is incarcerated. We are not paid; we publish the newspaper pro bono. Help keep us afloat by chipping in so stories on this Prison Nation and Police State, and related matters, coming! Any amount is appreciated.

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VIDEO VISITS TO INMATES AT WAYNE COUNTY JAILS SHUT DOWN, ACCESS TO FAMILIES, COURTS CURTAILED

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY–WE’RE SHUTTING DOWN YOUR VISITS–Sheriff

Prisoners’ constitutional right to access to the courts denied; law library already closed; Telmate tablets were being used for legal research

Shutdown follows elimination of recreation time, in overcrowded conditions, with grossly inadequate medical care, unsanitary conditions

Prisoners have been in jail for up to four years pre-trial in violation of state and federal law

Africans freed after the Civil War had their own Memorial Day ceremonies, remembering actions such as this victory by an all-Black unit during the Civil War.

By Diane Bukowski

May 28, 2022

The Memorial Day week-end is in full swing, but detainees in the Wayne County Jails will not be able to celebrate with their families and friends with on-line video visits.

Telmate kiosks and tablets which allow them to do so, and to use the law library’s research tools, were abruptly shut down a week ago, according to multiple sources. Prisoners now must line up to use the sole phone provided on each “rock” or unit containing 10 men, a situation which has engendered fights. No notice was given to them or to the public.

“The deputies just came through and snatched the tablets,” one prisoner told VOD. “They cut the wires, took down the whole station (kiosk), now we can’t have visits anymore. Video visits substitute for in-person visits [stopped at the beginning of COVID-19]. People are getting messages, ‘Sorry for the inconvenience, please try again later.'”

Message displayed on Wayne Co. Telmate visit attempt.

No notice was given to prisoners or the public.

Many said their one-hour a day recreation time, in a gym with exercise equipment, and sometimes outside in the yard was eliminated months ago, and that showers are not cleaned and black mold is growing

“They’re making the whole environment hostile—nothing for guys to do except look at local channels on TV, read a newspaper,” another man said.

The law library’s physical location was previously shut down. But prisoners have been using the tablets instead for legal research.

This is a federal constitutional right guaranteed to prisoners by the U.S. Supreme Court under Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. and 813 1977, and Hampton v. Hobbs 106 F. 3d 1281, 6th Circuit, 1997. The rulings “require prison authorities to assist inmates in the preparation and filing of meaningful legal papers by providing prisoners with adequate law libraries or adequate assistance from persons trained in the law.”

Erika Erickson, Director of Communications for the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, responded to VOD’s request for comment, “I have learned that we are undergoing major repairs and relocating many of our phones due to destructive behavior by some of our inmates. We have not disabled the service. Access to phones and video, however, will be limited for approximately a week, but still available to all inmates during this time. In-person visits are still prohibited to protect the health and safety of our inmates, staff and visitors during the Covid-19 pandemic, as recommended by the CDC.”

Erickson did not address VOD’s request for a copy of the directive ordering the shut-down, or to requests for comment on the shut-down of prisoners’ access to legal research, the cancellation of recreation time, or the number of prisoners in the jail, including the time they have spent there.

VOD covered Wayne County’s illegal detention of prisoners for periods up to four years, awaiting trial, with no conviction, in previous stories at:

UNLAWFUL, UNJUST! RALLY THURSDAY MAR. 17 TO FREE WRONGLY HELD PRISONERS; OPEN VISITS, COURTS, FILES | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought and

FAMILIES MARCH FOR MEN HELD WITHOUT TRIAL UP TO 4 YEARS IN WAYNE CO. JAIL; DEMAND “OPEN THE COURTS” | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

Additionally, Michigan Radio has been publishing an excellent series of stories on the Wayne County Jail, including the video above, by Beenish Ahmed, and Nisa Khan:

“Was this gonna be a death sentence for me?” Inside the pandemic at the Wayne Co. Jail (michiganradio.org)

Podknife – Jail Time Grows in Wayne Co. During Pandemic by Stateside

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 VOD’s staff lives either on limited fixed incomes or is incarcerated. We are not paid; we publish the newspaper pro bono. Help keep us afloat by chipping in so stories on this Prison Nation and Police State, and related matters, coming! Any amount is appreciated.

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TERANCE CALHOUN’S LONG-OVERDUE JUSTICE; DNA EVIDENCE CLEARED HIM JUNE 15, 2007

Early DNA results ruled out Calhoun as rape perpetrator in 2007

Court-appointed attorneys nevertheless advised him to plead guilty, waive appeal of right

Conviction dismissed with prejudice, meaning it cannot be reinstated

Ricardo Ferrell

DPD cop David Kane broke into hearing in unprecedented event, claiming Calhoun should not be exonerated

By Ricardo Ferrell, VOD Field Editor 
with Diane Bukowski, VOD Editor

May 15, 2o22

Terance Calhoun (in cap) is joyously embraced by his family on his release from prison April 27, 2022. (Photo: State Appellate Defenders Office)

Imprisoned for 15-years for crimes he didn’t commit, Terance Calhoun reacted with a smile on April 27, 2022, as Third Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Kelly Ramsey announced the dismissal of his 2007 convictions for Kidnapping and Criminal Sexual Conduct with prejudice (meaning the charges can never be reinstated).

He was flanked by his attorneys Valerie Newman, head of Wayne County’s Conviction Integrity Unit, and Michael Mittlestat of the State Appellate Defender’s Office.

In a just world, this moment would have happened 15 years ago. In fact, Calhoun would never have been tried.

A lengthy Statement of Facts attached to Judge Ramsey’s order says, “On June 15, 2007, Short Tandem Repeat (STR) analysis was completed on the condom collected at the scene of the sexual assault on Victim 2. That analysis excluded Mr. Calhoun as a donor of biological material.” STR was a predecessor to current methods of DNA testing.

The Statement and Calhoun’s court documents show that court-appointed attorneys at the trial and appellate levels advised Calhoun to plead guilty on Feb. 21, 2007 prior to his sentencing March 27, 2007, and to waive his appeal of right on September 10, 2007. Prior to those events, Calhoun was determined “competent to waive his Miranda rights” after a forensic exam that also found he still had “cognitive deficits.”

The Statement said there was no evidence that Calhoun’s attorneys had copies of the STR results. The test results were discovered by the State Appellate Defender’s Office in 2019.

See: http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/WCPO-_2022_april_27_-terance_calhoun_is_exonerated_-ff-1.pdf

DPD Officer David Kane is seen in screenshot at upper left, strutting out of the courtroom after talking to Judge Ramsey (r), who is looking at what he gave her.

In an unprecedented move that echoed the judicial system’s appalling rush to judgement in 2007, Detroit Police Officer David Kane intruded in Judge Ramsey’s courtroom during Calhoun’s first scheduled exoneration hearing April 22. He handed her a folder that he claimed contained evidence that she needed to look over before exonerating Calhoun. News reports indicated that the Judge and Kane knew each other.

Judge Ramsey handed the folder over to Attorney Newman. Newman had already made a determination based on DNA evidence which pointed toward another perpetrator that scientifically showed Calhoun was not responsible, but she still reviewed the file in question and reached the same conclusion that her office would still recommend that Calhoun be exonerated. She said there was nothing new in the materials Kane presented.

Judge Ramsey’s five day adjournment had many in the legal community wondering if the delay would keep Calhoun behind bars, even though DNA evidence undeniably cleared him of the sexual assault and kidnapping convictions.

Calhoun’s attorneys were very displeased by Kane’s action. In a release, the Detroit Police Department said Kane’s action violated DPD policy and procedure, which does not allow for him to blatantly interfere in a courtroom hearing. However, to date, no known disciplinary action has been taken against him.

James Calhoun MDOC photo

This goes to show the arrogance of some police investigators and the total disregard for fundamental fairness, even when undisputable scientific evidence is right before their eyes No wonder there’s a high number of wrongful convictions in Michigan, especially in Wayne County.

Fortunately for Calhoun he was exonerated, but another wrongfully convicted man named Calhoun wasn’t so fortunate.

James Calhoun, who was housed at the Woodland Correctional Facility in Whitmore Lake along with Calhoun, died September 23rd, 2021 from his battle with cancer. Unfortunately, James Calhoun didn’t get the chance to prove his innocence for the 2005 murder of which he was convicted. His daughter, Keila Chambliss, continues to fight relentlessly trying to get her father’s name cleared, even though he’s no longer alive. She’s reached out to the Conviction Integrity Unit and was told the case is being reviewed.

Last September, I helped put together a two-part interview of four exonerees on the Erica Lynn Speaks Podcast. During the interviews, James Calhoun was mentioned and remembered. In October, I wrote a follow-up story in VOD called “Wrongfully Convicted and Unlawfully Imprisoned” where again Calhoun’s case was highlighted. Also, I included the case of Paul Russ, who’s been in prison 38 years on a wrongful conviction. Recently, I received a message from his fiancé Hazel Gunter expressing her concerns about Russ still being in prison based on the shady tactics of the detective in his case.

Paul Russ, in prison since 1984. MDOC photo

“Paul and I have been told by many people to have patience,” she said. “However, information discovered by Mrs. Claudia Whitman that showed a pattern by Detroit Homicide Detective/Sgt. Elwood Gunderson of similar wrongdoings in other cases, a year apart from Paul’s clearly suggest the detective knowingly and deliberately framed him for a murder he didn’t commit.

“There has been a new witness to come forward and provide crucial information in his sworn affidavit that exonerates Paul which reveals he saw and witnessed someone other than Paul committing this crime, Now the new witness has took ill and he’s in real bad shape in the hospital, where he’s not expected to recover. They keep telling Paul and I to be patient, but what if the witness’ new information doesn’t get on the record? Will Paul Russ also die in prison like others have? As his new witness remains in the hospital apparently facing the reality of not pulling through, what else should Paul do, as he patiently awaits for the inevitable?” says Gunter.

I have been writing stories about innocent people convicted of crimes they didn’t commit, while I myself have been serving decades in prison as a result of grave police misconduct, fabricated statements, faulty evidence gathering and the use of incentive seeking witnesses used by police and prosecutors. This writer can only shake his head at the many injustices he’s seen, and wonder if the hundreds, if not thousands of innocent people will ever be exonerated. More resources are needed to effectively equip these conviction integrity units with the tools they need to review more innocence claims and move expeditiously when undisputable evidence is discovered and proves the accused isn’t responsible for the crime(s).

Additionally, there needs to be an even broader movement to bring our brothers and sisters home, to end life without parole sentencing and other monstrously inhuman  practices contributing to mass incarceration.

 

Related Stories:

WRONGFULLY CONVICTED AND UNLAWFULLY IMPRISONED: MICHIGAN RANKS 2ND IN U.S. WITH EXONERATIONS | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought 

‘END MICHIGAN’S SECRET DEATH ROW’–HUNDREDS DEMAND END TO LWOP, OTHER REFORMS AT STATE CAPITOL | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

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 VOD’s staff lives either on limited fixed incomes or is incarcerated. We are not paid; we publish the newspaper pro bono. Help keep us afloat by chipping in so stories on this Prison Nation and Police State, and related matters, can keep coming! Any amount is appreciated.

                           DONATE TO VOD 

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LIFER ROGER CARLOS RAY FIGHTS CONVICTION OF 1987 MURDER; HEARING ON SUPPRESSED EVIDENCE JULY 7, 2022

Top: Atty. Sarah Hunter (l) represents Dwight Love (center)in 1996; excerpts from Detroit News article by Ron French (r) citing miscellaneous files; bottom (l) Judge Daphne Means Curtis

In 1996, Atty. Sarah Hunter exposed DPD’s use of  “miscellaneous files” to hide exculpatory evidence

Ricardo Ferrell

In 2022, precedent brings new hope for Roger Carlos Ray, in prison since 1993–hearing on suppressed 1987 DPD files set for July 7, 2022

Court of Appeals vacated conviction and ordered a new trial in 2020 

By Ricardo Ferrell, Field Editor

With Diane Bukowski, VOD Editor

DONATE TO VOD at  https://www.gofundme.com/donate-to-vod

Ed. note: the names of the prosecution’s chief witness against Roger Carlos Ray, who may be the actual murderer, and the new witness whose affidavit says that man confessed the crime to him, have been redacted here since judicial action on the case is still pending.

May 2, 2022

Roger Carlos Ray MDOC

Through nearly three decades in prison, Roger Carlos Ray, 57, has always maintained his innocence of the gruesome murder of John Holmes on Detroit’s west-side in 1987.

Now he may finally have a chance for freedom, thanks to an investigation by private investigator Scott Lewis in 2018, which points to the chief trial witness against Ray as the likely murderer.

Based on that evidence, the Michigan Court of Appeals vacated Ray’s conviction July 23, 2020 and ordered a new trial.

An evidentiary hearing on a “Successive Motion for Relief from Judgment based on Newly Discovered Evidence in the Detroit Police Department ‘Homicide File'” is set for July 7 in front of Wayne 3rd Circuit Court Judge Miriam Saad Bazzi. Atty. Laurel Kelly Young of Grand Rapids is representing Ray.

THE CASE OF DWIGHT LOVE AND THE ‘MISCELLANEOUS’ FILES

DPD Commander Gerald Stewart (l) helps Rosa Parks at her house after she was attacked inside in Aug. 1994. Atty. Gregory Reed (r). 

In 1996, Dwight Carvel Love and his attorney Sarah Hunter first exposed DPD’s long-standing practice of using “miscellaneous files” separate from the official homicide file to hide exculpatory (favorable) evidence from the defense.

Recorders Court Judge Daphne Means Curtis ordered those files in Love’s case released, and he and his attorney found exculpatory and impeachment evidence in them favorable to Love.  Judge Curtis dismissed the case, and after several years of appeals by the prosecutor’s office, finally freed Love.

In an affidavit in 1999, Hunter swore she met secretly with a former FBI agent and a DPD officer who was on leave, who reported corrupt practices in the department. Later, the officer allegedly killed himself and his wife, and the former FBI agent died as well, leaving Hunter the only witness to the meeting left alive. In the excerpt below, “Mr. Harrison” is the DPD officer, and “Mr. Robertson” is the former FBI agent. Link to full affidavit is below excerpt.

 

http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Sarah.Hunter.Affidavit-Dwight-Love-case.pdf

Westville Apartments at 6017 Grand River (photo DPD homicide file-1987). Building is no longer there.

Dwight Love was arrested and convicted in 1981 for a murder near Holden and Trumbull. The John Holmes killing happened six years later, in 1987 at 6017 Grand River, a 1.3 mile walk from the first scene.

DPD Commander Gerald Stewart, referenced in Hunter’s post above, headed the Department’s city-wide Major Crimes Unit through those years.

John Holmes was the building manager of the Westville Apartments at 6017 Grand River for several years.  Tenants told Detroit Police he was a loan shark and carried large amounts of money as well as a gun. One tenant alleged that he also dealt drugs. Police discovered his badly burned body in the building’s incinerator room in the basement on   , 1987. They reported he had been beaten and shot in the back of his head.

Through the Michigan Freedom of Information Act, Private Investigator Scott Lewis obtained the homicide file for the victim, John Holmes (87-203), including the Detroit Police Homicide Section miscellaneous file.

Lewis told VOD that the City normally sends both as part of the same PDF file. During VOD’s review of that combined file, the sequence of records from 1987 to 1993 randomly skipped back and forth between the two years, with one arrest record date of 1993 crossed out in pen and changed to 1987. Lewis sent the record to Ray, who identified records from 1987 that had not been produced at his trial.

Private investigator, former TV reporter Scott Lewis

The prosecution’s entire case against Ray for the murder of Holmes hinged on what the chief prosecution witness told homicide investigators in three separate conflicting statements. The first did not implicate Ray.

The last two statements, the only ones read to the jury, claimed the witness saw Ray in bloodied clothing after the crime, and that Ray and another (unidentified) man ordered the witness under gunpoint to carry Holmes’ safe to a dumpster behind the building, and clean up the scene, including the apartment where the murder took place, the apartment rented by witness #1. Ray had been staying there, with witness #1 and his girlfriend.

There was no weapon or bullet evidence tying Ray to the murder, although a DPD report shows that one bullet and another fragment were extracted from Holmes’ head.

The homicide file included handwritten police notes from the 1987 record: 1) A Michigan identification card for the prosecution’s chief witness, found wedged between the coach cushions in Holmes’ living room. That witness claimed he had not been in Holmes’ apartment for several months, and testified at trial that Roger Carlos Ray was the killer, and 2) A note about new Witness #2: called the DPD to report an incriminating confession from Witness #1. Police never followed up on it.

DPD Note by Sgt. Bobby Gary, from homicide file, shows ID of witness #1

Investigator Scott Lewis contacted new witness #2 and obtained his affidavit on April 6, 2018. He states that witness #1  told him that the deceased, John Holmes, had money in his safe and that he had to get the money out of the safe and had to get rid of Holmes to get the money.

Subsequently, witness #1 showed him a stack of money and two .357 handguns and asked witness him to get rid of the handguns. Witness #2 called the Detroit Police Dept. and told them his name and that he had information about the murder of Holmes, but was placed on indefinite hold. He never got back to police.

The file also shows police obtained the names of five tenants who had been evicted in the month prior to Holmes’ murder, but no follow-up is indicated.

Police investigators originally focused on Witness #1 as the suspect, although Ray’s jury never knew this. Progress notes from the investigator explicitly identify witness #1 as the suspect. Just days after the homicide, detectives were trying to reach him at work but could not find him because he had stopped going to work and left without getting his  paycheck.

Police referred him and his girlfriend, listed as a witness, who was with him when he saw Ray in bloodied clothing, for polygraph exams twice, but each time the two failed to show up after first stating they would be there.

Records show that the safe was taken into evidence under tag #ET407736 and referred for fingerprinting, but there is no record of referrals for a blowtorch and a cigarette filter found with the body. A lab report on the fingerprints on the safe shows they were not identifiable.

Ray was not arrested and charged in the crime until 1993, six years after the murder.

FBI agent Stu Carlisle, part of a Repeat Offenders multi-agency task force, said a “confidential informant” told him where Ray was, and six officers went to the location to carry out the arrest. The DPD detectives in charge of Ray’s case in both 1987 and 1993 were Bobby Gary and Richard Ivy.

According to court records, Ray was tried by a jury in front of Detroit Recorder’s Court Judge Craig Strong. He was convicted of Homicide-Felony Murder and Crime with a Weapon on November 12, 1993 and sentenced to life without parole by Strong. Over the years, Strong denied four of Ray’s motions for relief from judgment, but this time the Court of Appeals overturned his findings and ordered a new trial.

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 VOD’s staff lives either on limited fixed incomes or is incarcerated. We are not paid; we publish the newspaper pro bono. Help keep us afloat by chipping in so stories on this Prison Nation and Police State, and related matters, can keep coming! Any amount is appreciated.

                                  DONATE TO VOD 

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(Contact editor for details on other ways to send funds, at 313-825-6126 or diane_bukowski@hotmail.com.)

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AS 31ST EXONERATION ANNOUNCED, WAYNE COUNTY, ASST. PROSECUTORS, DETROIT COPS FACE FEDERAL LAWSUITS

“Is anyone investigating how these cases went so wrong?” asks Channel 7 as Dennis Atkins becomes the 31st Wayne County Exoneree since 2018, after conviction in 2005 based solely on hearsay testimony

Exonerees Ramon Ward, Larry Smith file federal lawsuits targeting Wayne County, multiple Asst. County Prosecutors, Detroit police officers by name

Ramon Ward (l), Larry Smith (r)

Cite “unlawful arrest, detention, sexual assault, use of fabricated evidence, concealment of exculpatory evidence, malicious prosecution” et alia.

“Defendant County’s policy and/or custom of the WCPO obtaining false statements and false testimony for use against criminal defendants                                                                                            may continue to this day.”

The day after this story was posted, the Detroit News published: “DETROIT FACES ONSLAUGHT OF LAWSUITS FOR WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS” which covers 17 exonerees’ wrongful conviction lawsuits vs. the City of Detroit. Read it on VOD’s download of the article at: http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Detroit-faces-onslaught-of-lawsuits-for-wrongful-convictions.pdf

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By Diane Bukowski

April 12, 2022

Dennis Atkins (MDOC photo)

DETROIT “Is anyone investigating how these cases went so wrong?” Channel 7 anchor Dave Lewallen asked Feb. 4, leading into a story on the 31st exoneration reported by Wayne County’s Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU), that of Dennis Atkins. (See video at head of story.)

Atkins was convicted at age 22 of the murder of Billie Rutledge, on June 4, 2005 on Omira Street on Detroit’s east-side.  EMS techs were loading him on a stretcher into their vehicle, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a release.

“His convictions were based upon the [hearsay] testimony of his ex-girlfriend, her brother, and her brother’s girlfriend,” Worthy explained   ” . . .The Conviction Integrity Unit review of the case has revealed that Billie Rutledge was likely killed because he was a potential witness in a homicide case. No eyewitness or physical evidence linked Mr. Atkins to Mr. Rutledge’s death.” She reported Atkins passed a polygraph test arranged by the CIU in July, 2021.

Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy

See: http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Wayne-County-Prosecutors-Office-CIU-Dismisses-Charges-Against-Dennis-Atkins.pdf

But Worthy did not explain why her office took Atkins to trial in 2005 based solely on hearsay testimony, or why it failed to investigate other suspects in the case at the time before sending him to prison for the next 17 years.

Contemporaneous media coverage shows that the WCPO and the DPD were likely aware of the evidence on the other related homicide case before charging Atkins.

The National Registry of Exonerations just reported, “Rutledge’s 15-year-old brother Lemuel told the news media that he believed Rutledge was killed because he knew information about the March 11, 2005 murder of Shadad “Tommy” Yousif, who was killed in his auto repair business located two blocks away at the corner of Seven Mile and Omira. Rutledge worked in Yousif’s business and rumors had circulated that he was the driver for the gunman who killed Yousif.”

The NRE further detailed a complex maze of killings surrounding Yousif’s death, related to an insurance fraud scheme in which Yousif and his employees were allegedly involved. It identified likely suspects in those killings, some of whom were later killed themselves.

See:   http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp- content/uploads/Dennis-Atkins-National-Registry-of-Exonerations

The media report the NRE referred to, an article in the Detroit Free Press, was published June 7, 2005, three days after the murder

“Police are investigating whether Rutledge was killed because he knew too much or was connected to a March 12 slaying in Detroit,” the Free Press reported. It quoted DPD spokesman James Tate’s comment, “We’ve heard that [Rutledge] was involved in a previous crime with another individual that is known to us.”

Christine Kowal was the Assistant Prosecutor in the Atkins case. A Court of Appeals opinion affirming Atkins’ conviction identified DPD’s Sgt. Ernest Wilson as the Officer who tried to find a key defense witness in the case, and claimed he was not able to do so. Based on his testimony, the COA denied the defendant’s claim that the Prosecutor had not exercised due diligence in finding the witness. See: http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Dennis-Atkins-COA- 20070510_C268461_46_268461.OPN_.pdf

(L to r) Exoneree Marvin Cotton, DPD Sgt. Ernest Wilson, Exoneree Mubarez Ahmed

Before Atkins’ conviction, Wilson played major roles in the wrongful convictions of exonerees Mubarez Ahmed and Marvin Cotton in separate cases in 2001.

As Officer in Charge (OIC) in the Ahmed case, he blatantly coerced a witness during a line-up, showing her Ahmed’s photo before the event and directing her to pick him out, along with other transgressions. In the Marvin Cotton case, he responded to the scene of the crime and participated in Cotton’s interrogation. Jail-house snitch Ellis Frazier, Jr. was recruited to say he heard Cotton confess to the killing involved, but recanted that statement years after Cotton’s conviction.

A federal lawsuit citing police misconduct was filed against Wilson by Nathaneal Taylor resulted in an undisclosed settlement amount in 2014. In 2019, Wilson was sued over the illegal eviction of a mother and daughter in Detroit.

Exonerees Sue Wayne County, Prosecutors, Cops

Two eye-opening federal lawsuits filed against Wayne County, its assistant prosecutors, and Detroit police officers might help answer the question raised by Channel 7 reporters above: “How did these cases go so wrong?”

The lawsuits, filed in Sept.  and Nov. 2021, by Wayne County exonerees Ramon Ward and Larry Smith, name multiple assistant prosecutors and police officers the plaintiffs allege stole decades of their lives from them and their families.

Ward spent 27 years, and Smith spent 26 years in prison. The convictions of both men were based primarily on the testimony of so-called “jail-house snitches.”

RAMON WARD:

The Smietanka Law Group of Grandville, Michigan, and the Law Office of Jarrett Adams PLLC of Milwaukee, Chicago, and New York City filed Ward’s lawsuit on Nov. 24, 2021. Significantly, neither are based in Wayne County or southeast Michigan.

Mainstream media coverage of Wayne Co. exonerations generally steers clear of naming prosecutors.

Detroit’s two major newspapers and all of its main TV outlets endorsed Kym Worthy for re-election in 202o, as did all Democratic politicians locally and state-wide. She has been in office since 2004.

USDC Judge Paul Borman

Worthy was re-elected in 2020 after vigorous opposition from Attorney Victoria Burton-Harris, who garnered nearly 40 percent of the vote. Support for Burton-Harris came from progressive forces locally and nationally, who alleged Worthy’s office supports policies of mass incarceration and does not charge police who are guilty of murdering civilians without cause, among other allegations.

Ward’s lawsuit is proceeding in front of U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan Judge Paul Borman, and currently is in the discovery process until Dec. 20, 2022, with final dispositive motions due by Feb. 28, 2023. No potential jury trial date has yet been set.

PROSECUTORS NAMED IN WARD’S LAWSUIT

The complaint in Ward’s lawsuit includes allegations against Wayne County prosecutors/defendants Robert Agacinski, Nancy Westveld, and Janet Napp, and non-defendant AP’s Thomas Beadle, Rosemary Gordon, William Peterson, and James Heaphy.

Attys. Jarrett Adams(l), John Smietanka(r) filed lawsuit for Ramon Ward; Adams is himself an exoneree; Smietanka has 46 years of experience including as U.S. Atty.  for the U.S. District Court of Western Michigan.

The four defendant AP’s argued the case against Ward at trial and during multiple pre-trial and post-conviction hearings including four times at the Michigan Court of Appeals, twice at the Michigan Supreme Court, and three times during motions for relief from judgment (MFRJ) hearings.

At trial and at the MFRJ’s, they introduced prosecution witnesses, including the infamous jail-house snitches Joe Twilley and Oliver Cowan, took their falsified testimony, and defended them during cross-examination.

Because of the “policy and/or custom of the WCPO obtaining false statements and false testimony for use against criminal defendants,” the lawsuit alleges that the AP’s were likely aware that these witnesses were indeed giving false statements and testimony.

The lawsuit alleges that as the chief prosecutor, Agacinski even read Oliver Cowan’s perjured testimony from the pre-examination into the record, because Cowan had died in the interim and could not testify himself.

EXCERPT FROM ROBERT AGACINSKI MEMO

Agacinski exposed the “ring of snitches” in a Feb. 8, 1995 memorandum to Richard Padzieski, WCPO Chief of Operations,  a memo which later got wide media coverage. He noted in the memo that snitches had been involved in a case he had just tried, likely Ward’s. http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Agacinski-snitches-memo.pdf

However, the lawsuit alleges that on Feb. 16, 1995, Agacinski appeared for the Prosecutor’s Office at Ramon Ward’s sentencing hearing, where he stood silent as Ward, only 18 years old, was sentenced to death in prison, despite Agacinski’s knowledge that the key evidence in the case was fabricated.

The lawsuit also describes complicit behavior by other AP’s not cited as defendants. They include Thomas Beadle, Rosemary Gordon, William Peterson, and James Heaphy.

VOD asked the WCPO whether the named assistant prosecutors are still employed there, but was told to file a Freedom of Information Act request. The WCPO earlier declined to comment on the merits of the two lawsuits saying they are subject to pending litigation.

DETROIT POLICE OFFICERS NAMED IN WARD LAWSUIT

Allegations include beatings, sexual assault by jail-house snitch Cowan

Informant Joe Twilley, Jr. testified for prosecution in “at least 20 cases.”

DPD Officers Dale Collins (l) and Monica Childs (r).

Ward’s lawsuit names as Detroit Police Department defendants Officers Monica Childs, Dale Collins, Fred Jorgensen, and Tony Sanders.

The names of Dale Collins and Monica Childs appear in multiple cases of wrongful convictions. In Ward’s case, Collins was the Officer-in-Charge.

The lawsuit says that, prior to charging Ward, Collins and P.O. Danny Maynard took statements from witnesses who identified two other suspects, one of whom later turned out to be the actual killer of victims, Denise Sharon Cornell and J0an Gilliam. Then Monica Childs interrogated him a first time, denying him a lawyer. He refused to talk t0 her and provided a signed statement saying he had not killed the women.

Former Detroit police homicide chief William Rice, now on Giglio-Brady list.

Shockingly, the lawsuit alleges that during that first interrogation, Collins and DPD Lieutenant William Rice beat Ward bel0w the neck with a phone book.

Afterwards, DPD officers placed Ward in a cell on the 9th floor of headquarters at 1300 Beaubien. Informants Joe Twilley, Jr. and Oliver Cowan were there as well. Allegedly, Cowan assaulted him physically and sexually while holding a blade to his neck, after he refused to talk to informant Joe Twilley, Jr.

Childs then interrogated him a second time, and claimed he first confessed to the murders, but then denied them. Ward said he never confessed to the murders. The other DPD officers were involved in supporting roles.

Judge John Shamo

According to court records, Collins also testified on behalf of informant Joe Twilley, Jr. during a secret motion for relief from judgment re-sentencing hearing July 27, 1994 in front of Recorders Court Judge John Shamo.

The hearing resulted in a reduction of Twilley’s sentence of 12-25 years to “a few years,” and resulted in Twilley’s immediate release.

AP Rosemary Gordon represented the WCPO.  Collins told the court that Twilley had helped obtain convictions in 20 homicide cases. Judge Shamo noted that DPD Sgt. William Rice testified earlier in another secret hearing for an informant, and effusively praised Collins as an honest police officer. Gordon told the court that AP Thomas Beadle also supported relief for Twilley.

See full transcript at:  http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Dale-Collins-Snitch-Twiley.Resentencing.pdf 

Full lawsuit at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Ramon-Ward2-COM-Federal-Complaint-112421.pdf

LARRY SMITH LAWSUIT    

Atty. Jarrett Adams

Attorney Jarrett Adams filed exoneree Larry Smith’s first federal complaint on September 3, 2021, and later filed an amended complaint on January 27, 2022, against the defendants, Wayne County, Asst. Prosecutor Robert J. Donaldson, and DPD officers Monica Childs, Gene Karvonen, Roger Mueller, Walter Love, and John Dembinski.

It is proceeding in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in front of U.S. District Court Judge David Lawson, with Dispositive Motion Cut-off set for Jan. 20, 2023, Final Pretrial Conference set for August 30, 2023, and Jury Trial for Sept. 12, 2023.

Adams is himself an exoneree who was wrongfully convicted at the age of 17, and sentenced to 28 years. He studied law during the 10 years he served, filed multiple appeals, and was finally exonerated with the assistance of the Wisconsin Innocence Project. He now runs law offices in Milwaukee, Chicago and New York.

US District Court Judge David Lawson

The lawsuit notes that Smith turned himself in at DPD Headquarters on 1300 Beaubien, after learning police were looking for him as they investigated the murder of Kenneth Hayes, 20, on March 24, 1994. Defendant Monica Childs interviewed him, and claimed in her progress notes that he told her witnesses could not identify him because “he was wearing a hood.” Smith denied he said that or any admission in the case.

It says that prior to trial, Defendant AP Robert J. Donaldson asked Childs numerous times for her notes, which she finally produced three months prior to trial in Nov. 1994, saying they were in another case file. It then alleges that Edward Chico Allen, housed in the DPD lock-up, was recruited to falsely testify that Smith had confessed to him.

“Defendant Donaldson and/or Defendant Childs promised Allen leniency in his [capital] criminal case if he falsely testified that Smith bragged about shooting Hayes,” the complaint says. It says the Prosecutor and police continued to house Allen at the lock-up rather than the Wayne County Jail, and plied him with food, alcohol, drugs, and the ability to go out to have sex. It alleges that Childs took Allen, still housed in the lock-up, to a hotel to have a “sexual relationship” after Smith’s conviction in November.

Larry Smith with his mother Debra Smith. Both spoke at a mass Wrongful Conviction rally outside the Frank Murphy Hall June 4, 2021.

In 2003, Allen signed a notarized affidavit recanting all his testimony against Smith and provided it to Smith and his attorneys, which Atty. Mary Owens attached to his habeas corpus appeal.

Nonetheless, the WCPO continued to fight Smith’s appeals in federal court as they did in state court, all the while knowing he was convicted based on false testimony and evidence. So his appeals there were denied as well.

The lawsuit also alleges that faulty and negligent testing and preservation of evidence by the Detroit Crime Lab, which was shut down in 2008 because of those issues, resulted in false ballistics results in Smith’s case, which were highlighted by AP Donaldson as key to his guilt during trial testimony.

In a May, 2017 Detroit Metro Times article, journalist Ryan Felton exposed the rampant use of jailhouse informants (snitches) by DPD/WCPO. He reported that Edward Allen told a private investigator that Detroit police filed over 100 murder cases as a result of such testimony.

The investigator also reported that Allen said, “The police would also supply police witnesses with the discovery packets and allow them to read up on the case so that eventually testimony would match the government’s allegations.”

See full lawsuit at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Larry-Smith-COM-Amended-Federal-Complaint-012722.pdf.

BOTH LAWSUITS FILED FOR RAMON WARD AND LARRY SMITH ASK FOR:

“Compensatory damages, costs, and attorneys’ fees against each Defendant, along with punitive damages against each of the individual Defendants, injunctive and equitable relief against Defendant, County of Wayne, as well as any other relief the Court deems appropriate.”

FIRE/CHARGE WCPO, DPD CRIMINALS!

As exoneree Lacino Hamilton infers in the comment at the beginning of this story, true justice for Ward and Smith, along with likely thousands of people from Wayne County who are wasting their lives away in MDOC prisons, will not come until the corrupt systems in the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and the Detroit Police Department are torn down and re-created for the benefit of the people.

Still shot from NBC’s interview with Kym Worthy Aug. 8, 2021.

Not one Assistant Prosecutor or Police Officer named as defendants in the Ward and Smith lawsuits has been disciplined, fired, or charged by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy and her office for the offenses cited in the Ward and Smith lawsuits, or in the cases of the rest of the 31 exonerees Wayne County boasts.

Exposed in the glare of the searchlight these lawsuits have provided, the official actions may include perjury, suborning perjury, obstruction of justice, and numerous other crimes.

PROSECUTORIAL IMMUNITY NOT ABSOLUTE

Many believe that prosecutors have absolute immunity, but the U.S. Supreme Court have substantially restricted that privilege through the years, most recently in Thompson v. Clark 596 U.S. (2022). There, the current U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3, uniting conservatives with the liberal minority, that: “To demonstrate a favorable termination of criminal prosecution for purposes of a section 1983 Fourth Amendment malicious prosecution claim, a plaintiff need not show that the criminal prosecution ended with some affirmative indication of innocence but need only show that his prosecution ended without a conviction.” Thompson v. Clark :: 596 U.S. ___ (2022) :: Justia US Supreme Court Center.

The issue is addressed more broadly by the USDOJ Office of Justice Programs:   PROSECUTORIAL IMMUNITY NO LONGER ABSOLUTE | Office of Justice Programs (ojp.gov)

U.S. Supreme Court

“The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Buckley v. Fitzsimmons, 113 S.Ct. 2606 (1993), points to a growing recognition of the difficulty of maintaining absolute prosecutorial immunity when the system imprisons the wrong person for the wrong reason, i.e., when exculpatory evidence has been concealed or incriminating evidence has been fabricated. When prosecutors abandon traditional advocacy roles to participate pretrial or precharge in police investigative work in collateral law enforcement administration on a day-to-day, case-by-case basis, they may enjoy only qualified immunity for that conduct. This article discusses in some detail the Court’s opinions in Buckley and Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409 (1976) and briefly covers the Court’s opinions in other related cases.”

In the Channel 7 story at the head of this article, Reporter Kimberley Craig says she called the U.S. Attorney’s office, but was told they do not comment on whether investigations at their level have been opened.

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 VOD’s staff lives either on limited fixed incomes or is incarcerated. We are not paid; we publish the newspaper pro bono. Help keep us afloat by chipping in so stories on this Prison Nation and Police State, and related matters, coming! Any amount is appreciated.

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(Contact editor for details on other ways to send funds, at 313-825-6126 or diane_bukowski@hotmail.com.)

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Related stories:

UNLAWFUL, UNJUST! RALLY THURSDAY MAR. 17 TO FREE WRONGLY HELD PRISONERS; OPEN VISITS, COURTS, FILES | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

DETROIT: FAMILIES OF WRONGFULLY CONVICTED TELL PROS. KYM WORTHY, POLICE, JUDGES–‘FREE THEM ALL’ | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought Continue reading

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FAMILIES MARCH FOR MEN HELD WITHOUT TRIAL UP TO 4 YEARS IN WAYNE CO. JAIL; DEMAND “OPEN THE COURTS”

UPDATE! APRIL 4, 2022

ALL COURTROOMS NOW OPEN FOR TRIALS

A report from the County Clerk criminal division indicates that all courtrooms in the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice are now open to handle trials and other events, starting Monday, April 4, 2022. Building open at 8 a.m., courtrooms open at 9 a.m.

However, the building itself is not yet open to the public. The Ninth Floor Clerk’s Office is still not open to the public, meaning lack of full public and media access to review public court documents. The public will not be allowed in to view trials, etc. but can access them on Zoom/YouTube. This is likely a violation of defendants’ rights to a public trial under the Sixth Amendment.

Donald Davis, Jr. MDOC photo

IS THIS GROUNDS FOR THOSE WHOSE TRIALS ARE HELD WHILE COURTROOMS ARE CLOSED TO APPEAL THEIR SENTENCES?

The Michigan Supreme Court just ordered a new trial for Donald Davis, Jr. of Flint because Genesee County Circuit Court Judge Geoffrey L. Neithercut ordered the courtroom closed for the duration of the trial.

“The trial court’s closure of the courtroom for nearly the entirety of defendant’s trial after a single, benign interaction between an observer and a juror constituted plain error. Because the deprivation of a defendant’s public-trial right is a structural error, the error necessarily affected defendant’s substantial rights. This structural error presumptively satisfied the plain-error standard’s requirements for reversal, and neither the prosecution’s arguments nor the record evidence rebutted that presumption. The Court of Appeals judgment was reversed, and the case was remanded to the trial court for a new trial.”

http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/People-v-Davis-MSC-3-14-22.pdf

Michigan Supreme Court throws out conviction in 2016 Flint murder case | Crime | abc12.com

Prisoners’ families want:  

  • Dismissal of charges vs. prisoners held past Speedy Trial limits.
  • Open the Courts to handle trials; open the jails for public visitation.
  • Post all c0urt filings on the Wayne County Courts website at Third Judicial Circuit of Michigan (3rdcc.org).

Darrell Ewing/Derrico Searcy hearing March 18 again adjourned to May 5 to hear judge’s pre-trial rulings on Brady motions to dismiss 

VOD is waiting for Court Administrator’s Office to reply to request for information on plans to dismiss charges, re-open courts and jails at: http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/VOD-request-to-Office-of-Corporate-Counsel-for-info-re-WCJ-prisoners.pdf

DONATE TO VOICE OF DETROIT https://www.gofundme.com/donate-to-vod

Contact Operation Liberation, organizers of rally:  586-943-8780 

By Diane Bukowski

March 31, 2022

“Prison was hell. It was a new kind of plantation. I felt like an escaped slave. What I saw in the United States in those prisons was slavery, it was Black people with chains, in cells, it was just poor people stepped on and smashed. I’ll never forget what I saw. I’ll never forget what I’ve lived  through . . . what my people have lived through.”  –Assata Shakur in new documentary, Black and Cuba

In Detroit’s Wayne County Jail, hundreds of people, held without a trial far beyond Michigan’s statutory pre-trial maximum of 180 days (six months), and the federal 70-day trial limit, live essentially as captured slaves, as revolutionary exile Assata Shakur described above.

These men and women watch from the jail’s narrow windows every day as thousands of party-going visitors flood downtown Detroit’s streets around the prison, and others make their way to work, oblivious to the plight of those inside the jail.

Their continuing incarceration violates not only state law, but provisions of the U.S. Constitution’s Sixth Amendment and the Federal Speedy Trial Act of 1974.

Families of many people in the jail turned out March 17 for a spirited rally demanding:

  • Dismissal of charges vs. prisoners held past Speedy Trial limits.
  • Open the Courts to handle trials; open the jails for public visitation.
  • Post all c0urt filings on the Wayne County Courts website at Third Judicial Circuit of Michigan (3rdcc.org).

Some of dozens of family members on the court steps at the Unlawful, Unjust rally March 17, 2022.

Michigan Public Radio reported in February that at least 120 inmates at the Wayne County Jail have been held without a trial past 18 months, which includes the time allowed for evaluation of their cases before their cases are dismissed with prejudice (meaning the charges cannot be brought back again).

From Michigan Public Radio/NPR

But many others are being held beyond six months.  Meanwhile, a Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration recommended in 2020 that the statutory time limit be firmly set at 18 months.

They also recommended the rescission of various factors such as the defendant’s obligation to challenge his/her incarceration directly, which have delayed compliance with the 180-day rule.

MPR noted that one prisoner has been held for 47 months, the longest of any man in the jail. VOD interviewed him,  Javonte Wiley, along with seven other men in the jail who have been held past Speedy Trial limits on March 17.

Wiley has been held since Oct. 3, 2017 on capital (life) charges which were dismissed twice in 2017 and 2019 after lengthy trial proceedings including jury trials. He was not released after those trials because judges dismissed the cases WITHOUT prejudice.

The same charges in the same case were brought back in 2020 by Wayne Co. 3rd Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy Kenny, acting as a one-man grand jury.  A “review date” is set for May 17, 2022 in front of 3rd Circuit Court Judge Shannon Walker, after a year of constant adjournments.

UNLAWFUL, UNJUST! RALLY THURSDAY MAR. 17 TO FREE WRONGLY HELD PRISONERS; OPEN VISITS, COURTS, FILES | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

Hear full Mich. Public Radio podcast below after box on Michigan’s right to speedy trial.

On March 18, the day after the March 17 rally at the Frank Murphy Hall, Darrell Ewing and his co-defendant Derrico Searcy appeared again before Judge Darnella Williams-Claybourne in a seemingly endless series of Final Conference pre-trial hearings. A Michigan Court of Appeals upheld Wayne Third Circuit Judge Michael Hathaway’s order for a new trial in their case, rendered in October, 2019, which vacated their convictions for the 2009 murder of J.B. Watson.

Child at rally asks Judge to intervene against a lengthy pre-trial delay in the case of Darrell Ewing and Derrico Searcy.

Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy has consistently failed in her appeals of multiple state and federal court rulings on the defendants’ side.

Worthy has held Ewing and Searcy hostage in the Wayne County Jail since early last year, awaiting the new trial.

On March 18, Asst. Prosecutor Kam Towns further delayed a hearing before Judge Williams-Claybourne on motions to dismiss the case due to alleged Brady v. Maryland violations, including the existence of Tyree Washington’s Mirandized confession to the Watson murder, given under oath to the Michigan State Police in Feb. 2017.

At March 18 rally: Darrell Ewing is known as “Apple.”

Towns insisted that Ewing’s handwritten motion to dismiss, filed with his request to act as his own attorney, be E-filed through the state system, although that is not a requirement for prisoners filing pro se.  Atty. Lillian Diallo said she would do that immediately,  and withdraw her own motion.

Judge Williams-Claybourne  ordered the state’s response by April 18, with the parties to appear again May 5, to discuss the state’s response to that and other motions, and hear the Judge’s rulings.

“The trial will hopefully take place in June or July,” Judge WIlliams-Claybourne estimated. Ewing reacted with optimism, since he will be able to argue his motion, and tentative trial dates have finally been set.

(Screenshot) Darrell Ewing (seated at center and Derrico Searcy (behind him) appeared in person at their hearing March 18, 2022. Also shown are attorneys Lillian Diallo and Blase Kearney behind them, and AP Kam Towns at far right.

Family members and friends of prisoners conclude rally with prayers for their loved ones on courthouse steps March 18, 2022.

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 VOD’s staff lives either on limited fixed incomes or is incarcerated. We are not paid; we publish the newspaper pro bono. Help keep us afloat by chipping in so stories on this Prison Nation and Police State, and related matters, coming! Any amount is appreciated.

                                       DONATE TO VOD 

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(Contact editor for details on other ways to send funds, at 313-825-6126 or diane_bukowski@hotmail.com.)

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U.S/NATO HISTORY OF BLOODY WARS ACROSS THE GLOBE SHOWN IN BANNERS BY SERBIAN FOOTBALL FANS

SERBIAN FOOTBALL FANS DISPLAY BANNERS DEPICTING U.S./NATO HISTORY OF BLOODY INVASIONS ACROSS THE GLOBE.

https://english.news.cn/20220321/9e02130d39da4f60b4153b4c1a6f3fea/c.html

PUBLISHED IN ZINHUA, NEWSPAPER OF THE PEOPLES REPUBLIC OF CHINA — WHAT MORE IS THERE TO SAY ABOUT RUSSIA-UKRAINE??? WELL, OLIVER STONE HAD A LOT MORE TO SAY:

 

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Putin’s Bombers Could Devastate Ukraine But He’s Holding Back. Here’s Why (msn.com)

Click on the above link to read this entire story from Newsweek.

Excerpt: “If we merely convince ourselves that Russia is bombing indiscriminately, or [that] it is failing to inflict more harm because its personnel are not up to the task or because it is technically inept, then we are not seeing the real conflict.”

But, the analyst says, the damage associated with a contested ground war involving peer opponents shouldn’t blind people to what is really happening. (The analyst requested anonymity in order to speak about classified matters.) “The heart of Kyiv has barely been touched. And almost all of the long-range strikes have been aimed at military targets.”

In the capital, most observable to the west, Kyiv city authorities say that some 55 buildings have been damaged and that 222 people have died since February 24. It is a city of 2.8 million people.

“We need to understand Russia’s actual conduct,” says a retired Air Force officer, a lawyer by training who has been involved in approving targets for U.S. fights in Iraq and Afghanistan. The officer currently works as an analyst with a large military contractor advising the Pentagon and was granted anonymity in order to speak candidly.

“If we merely convince ourselves that Russia is bombing indiscriminately, or [that] it is failing to inflict more harm because its personnel are not up to the task or because it is technically inept, then we are not seeing the real conflict.”

In the analyst’s view, though the war has led to unprecedented destruction in the south and east, the Russian military has actually been showing restraint in its long-range attacks.

As of the past weekend, in 24 days of conflict, Russia has flown some 1,400 strike sorties and delivered almost 1,000 missiles (by contrast, the United States flew more sorties and delivered more weapons in the first day of the 2003 Iraq war).

U.S. launches “Shock and Awe” bombing of Iraq in 2003.

The vast majority of the airstrikes are over the battlefield, with Russian aircraft providing “close air support” to ground forces. The remainder—less than 20 percent, according to U.S. experts—has been aimed at military airfields, barracks and supporting depots.

A proportion of those strikes have damaged and destroyed civilian structures and killed and injured innocent civilians, but the level of death and destruction is low compared to Russia’s capacity.

“I know it’s hard … to swallow that the carnage and destruction could be much worse than it is,” says the DIA analyst. “But that’s what the facts show. This suggests to me, at least, that Putin is not intentionally attacking civilians, that perhaps he is mindful that he needs to limit damage in order to leave an out for negotiations.”

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