STOP NEW WAVE OF COVID-19 DUE TO DELTA VARIANT IN MICHIGAN PRISONS–FREE EFREN PAREDES JR.

PROTEST OUTSIDE SANTA RITA JAIL IN CALIFORNIA.

Virus has re-emerged in 9 Michigan prisons, likely due to Delta variant

“All 5  of the top 5 clusters of COVID-19 infections” in the U.S. are in prisons

COVID-19 can cause 200 symptoms in ten different bodily organs; many linger after virus leaves body

“Efforts to control COVID-19 in the community are likely to fail” if it runs rampant in prisons and jails

Sign Michigan Prison Reform petition to stop double-bunking, release prisoners to homes on tethers, other measures @ http://Bitly.com/MichPR.

Efrén Paredes, Jr.

By Efrén Paredes, Jr.

August 10, 2021

“Since the first case of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was confirmed in the United States on January 21, 2020, the largest clusters of infection have occurred within prisons and jails, distantly followed by meatpacking plants and nursing homes.”

Authors Camille Strassle and Benjamin E. Berkman made that observation in their 2020 academic journal article published in the San Diego Law Review titled “Prisons and Pandemics.

They added, “All five of the top five clusters of COVID-19 infections around the country are in carceral facilities, and incarcerated people are at least two-and-a-half times more likely than the general population to acquire COVID-19.”

The virus has re-emerged in nine of Michigan’s prisons this past week. A large number of the cases are likely the result of the highly contagious Delta variant which accounts for 93% of COVID-19 cases nationwide. Its ability to shut off the body’s immune system long enough to produce substantial, and sometimes irreversible damage, is particularly troubling.

Once the disease begins proliferating inside prisons we are going to witness it produce potentially catastrophic results once again. While vaccination numbers may help curtail surges of hospitalizations and deaths, it won’t prevent people who have been vaccinated from the possibility of experiencing long-term symptoms.

In a disturbing study published in LANCET last month researchers reported finding that COVID-19 can cause 200 symptoms in ten different bodily organs. In places like prisons that act as reservoirs or petri dishes for the virus the potential for this to occur is far greater than for members of the general public.

Vulnerable people caged in Michigan prisons who are powerless to extricate themselves from crowded living areas and other shared spaces desperately need your help to break the chain of COVID-19 infection and transmission.

To help combat this problem we are asking members of the public to please take a few moments to sign the Support Michigan Prison Reform (SMPR) online petition which can be accessed at http://Bitly.com/MichPR.

Each time a person signs the petition an email is sent to their respective State Representative and State Senator calling on them to support passage of legislation reflecting the 10-Point Michigan Prison Reform Platform.

The SMPR petition includes calling on lawmakers to end the inhumane practice of double-bunking and separating all beds in housing units by at least six feet to reduce transmission of deadly viruses.

If implemented this change can significantly reduce the population density in prisons and result in the release of thousands of people who would can be safely managed in the community and would pose no danger to society.

Through expanded use of the tether program people can still be held accountable for their crimes. Not only    could they protect their health and become productive members of society, they could also continue to be supervised electronically until the completion of their sentence.

The World Health Organization makes the valid argument that during a pandemic prison health should be equated with public health:

“The risk of rapidly increasing transmission of the disease within prisons or other places of detention is likely to have an amplifying effect on the epidemic, swiftly multiplying the number of people affected. [P] Efforts to control COVID-19 in the community are likely to fail if strong infection prevention and control (IPC) measures, adequate testing, treatment and care are not carried out in prisons and other places of detention as well.” (Regional Office for Eur., World Health Org., “Prevention and Control of COVID-19 in Prisons and Other Places of Detention” 1 (2020)).

In June, the World Health Organization issued this warning.

COVID-19 outbreaks in prison are a deadly public health emergency that demand a solution proportional to the size of the problem. That includes amplifying our voices to ensure our demands for change are persistently heard by every state lawmaker to help prevent incarcerated people from being silently stalked by a deadly virus.

Please act now and sign the petition. If you have already signed the petition please share the link widely in your social network and invite others to sign and share it as well.

Efrén Paredes, Jr.
Support Michigan Prison Reform
http://Bitly.com/MichPR

SMPR Facebook Group:
http://fb.com/groups/MichPR

SMPR Poster:
http://Bitly.com/MichPR-Poster

NEW JUVENILE LIFER COURT HEARING FOR EFREN PAREDES, JR.  SEPTEMBER 10, 2021

Michigan has highest number of juvenile lifers not yet resentenced in U.S.

70% of state juvenile lifers are people of color

94% of state juvenile lifers who have been re-sentenced got term of years

By Necalli Ollin

After postponing court hearings three times for Efrén Paredes, Jr since March 2021, Berrien County Trial Court Judge Charles LaSata has scheduled a court hearing in the case to be convened September 10, 2021.

The court hearing will be to decide whether LaSata will grant retired Berrien County prosecutor Michael Sepic’s motion seeking a life without parole (LWOP) sentence in Paredes’s case or dismiss the motion and grant Paredes a subsequent resentencing hearing.

Paredes is one of the individuals who received a mandatory LWOP sentenced when he was a minor who are commonly referred to as “juvenile lifers.” He was arrested at age 15 for a 1989 murder and robbery in St. Joseph, Michigan, which forensic evidence and witness statements made under oath since his trial establish he did not commit.

Berrien Co. Judge Charles LaSata

In 2012 the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling in the case of Miller v. Alabama abolishing mandatory LWOP sentences for juvenile offenders. The Court ordered the 2,500 people impacted by the ruling nationwide to have their cases reviewed for resentencing consideration.

Of the 367 juvenile lifers in Michigan at the time of the Supreme Court ruling an astonishing nearly 70% are people of color. Nine years after the 2012 high court ruling Michigan shamefully leads the nation in the number of juvenile lifers it incarcerates and has not yet resentenced.

The resentencing delays in these cases are due in large part to prosecutors who filed motions seeking undeserving LWOP sentences in many juvenile lifer cases. Their decisions require judges to conduct costly mitigation court hearings to be held requiring expert witnesses paid for at taxpayer expense in dozens of cases.

Efren Paredes Jr. with wife Maria Luisa Zavala (r) and family.

According to the U.S. Supreme Court, only juvenile offenders who are irreparably corrupt and forever incapable of change or rehabilitation can receive a LWOP sentence again. Anyone who demonstrates the capacity for change and rehabilitation must receive a term-of-year sentence.

To date 94% of people originally sentenced to LWOP when they were children in Michigan who have been resentenced have received a term-of-year sentence averaging 30.5 years. Only six percent have received LWOP again.

Despite prosecutors having their motions seeking LWOP sentences in juvenile lifer cases being denied by judges the overwhelming majority of the time they recklessly persist pursuing the extreme sentence.

Today Paredes is a social justice changemaker, thought leader, husband, and parent. A review of his extensive body of work and impressive record of accomplishments behind bars the past 32 years make it abundantly clear he is not a candidate to receive a LWOP sentence again.

He has developed a remarkable sense of self-awareness and has persistently evolved spiritually and intellectually. He is also a sound consequential thinker and problem solver who has developed a profound appreciation for the sanctity of life.

Berrien Co. Pros. Steve Pierangeli (l),  Exoneree Corey McCall with family (r).

The retired prosecutor seeking a LWOP sentence against Paredes, Michael Sepic, was the original prosecuting attorney in the case in 1989. Prior to trial Sepic engaged in misconduct by providing false and misleading information to the media about the case to taint the jury pool and wrongly convict Paredes. He stonewalled Paredes’ JLWOP case for years.

The Michigan Supreme Court has stated, however, that “a court cannot base its sentence even in part on defendant’s refusal to admit guilt.” (People v. Hatchett, 477 Mich. 1061 (2009); People v. Jackson, 474 Mich. 996 (2006)).

Newly elected Berrien County prosecutor, Steven Pierangeli,  swore Sepic in as an assistant prosecutor after his retirement to continue working on the Paredes case. Pierangeli recently vacated the conviction of Corey McCall at the request of the State Attorney General Dana Nessel’s Conviction Integrity Unit.

After 32-and-a-half years it’s long overdue that Paredes receive a fair ruling free of the taint of prosecutorial misconduct and abuse of power. He deserves to be granted a term-of-years sentence proportional to the average sentence other similarly situated juvenile lifers have received when resentenced.

Readers are invited to “Like” the Free Efrén Paredes, Jr. Facebook page to support his campaign for freedom, listen to his radio and podcast interviews, read his latest essays, and access links to social justice and criminal penal reform issues and events. The page is available at http://fb.com/Free.Efren.

Related on Berrien County cases:

Local juvenile lifer cases reflect the challenge across Michigan in re-examining whether justice was served | News | heraldpalladium.com

Police in St. Joseph taking new look at Benton Harbor teen’s 1991 death (freep.com)

RELATED on or by:  LIFER EFREN PAREDES, JR. REPORTS ON COVID-19 IN MDOC; PRISONERS IN GRAVE DANGER WORLD-WIDE | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

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WORTHY OR NOT? DETROIT’S INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS SAY NOT AFTER NBC INTERVIEW OF WAYNE CO. PROSECUTOR

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

Prosecutors work to overturn wrongful convictions from their own office (nbcnews.com)

After 26 years in prison, new Missouri law could help man fighting for freedom (nbcnews.com)

Editorial

By Diane Bukowski

August 11, 2021

Lamar Johnson, Kansas City, MO

DETROIT–NBC Nightly News featured an interview with Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy August 8, 2021, which was prominently shared across other mainstream media outlets. It was part of a series on Conviction Integrity Units across the country.

The next in the series featured the Missouri case of Lamar Johnson, who Prosecutor Kim Gardner says was wrongfully convicted 26 years ago. She is fervently fighting to get him freed under a new state law there.

(To watch each episode click the links at beginning of this story.)

But NBC News’ Kate Snow did not ask Worthy about the thousands of Wayne County residents still locked up, many for decades, due to the work of Worthy’s office in convicting them, then continuing to adamantly oppose their appeals at state and federal levels.

The mainstream media applauded NBC’s interview with Worthy non-critically, but it evidently fell flat with many of the younger generation in Detroit and Wayne County, as reflected in the multitude of Instagram comments featured below. A similar angry storm of Instagram comments took place after VOD’s story on Kym Worthy’s insistence that all 54 juvenile lifers from Wayne County still in prison be resentenced to death in prison. Hundreds of families occupied the street outside Worthy’s office June 4, crying, “Free Them All.” (See links below comments.)

ANGRY INSTAGRAM STORM AFTER NBC KYM WORTHY INTERVIEW

 

 

Related:

DOES KYM WORTHY WANT 54 MICH. JUVENILE LIFERS TO DIE IN PRISON, VIOLATING U.S. SUPREME COURT ORDERS? | 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

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Voice of Detroit is a pro bono newspaper, now devoting itself entirely to stories related to our PRISON NATION and POLICE STATE.

VOD’s editors and reporters, most of whom live on fixed incomes or are incarcerated, are not paid for their work. Ongoing costs include quarterly web charges of $435,00, P.O. box fee of $180/yr. and costs for research including court records and internet fees, office supplies, gas, etc.

Please DONATE TO VOD at:

https://www.gofundme.com/donate-to-vod

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CELEBRATING THE LIFE OF RONNIE HEREFORD, SR. OWNER DOLL’S GO-KART, IRONWORKER, FIGHTER FOR THE PEOPLE

“I am truly blessed to have been raised by two of the most loving, caring and dedicated parents any child could have–my parents Ronnie and Darleen Hereford” — Reinaldo Hereford

RONNIE HEREFORD/Photo Darleen Hereford

An ironworker for decades, Ronnie met with Detroit Mayor Coleman Young to produce Exec, Order #22,  providing jobs for Blacks, Detroiters, women

Ronnie and wife Darleen established “Doll’s Go-Kart Track,” which provided safe, off-the-street recreation for children and their families for decades

Fought ceaselessly against son Darron’s wrongful conviction, and for other victims of mass incarceration

Active member of Detroit and Pontiac Coalitions vs. Police Brutality

By Diane Bukowski 

August 8, 2021

Darleen’s father Romie R.J. Rowe, with Darron.

Darleen Hereford with sons in early  years.

DETROIT — Ronnie Hereford, Sr. devoted his life first to his wife and soul-mate Darleen Hereford, who he called “Doll,” in a 48-year love story for the ages,  and their children Ronnie Jr., Reinaldo, Darron, Ryan and Olivia. His love included the rest of their extended family. Darleen’s father Romie R. J. Rowe lived with them in his later years.

He dedicated his life to all children as well, as owner of the beloved Doll’s Go-Kart Track on Grand River and Oakman, which he opened to keep kids off the street, hosting thousands of families for decades in the central city neighborhood. Ronnie also fought an unceasing battle against the forces of gentrification greedy for the land there,  repeatedly refusing offers to buy the property. He worked with the late Cornell Squires against such actions city-wide and later against the beautiful home in Southfield he had provided for his family in 1983 on his wages as an ironworker in the skilled trades.

Ronnie with happy kids at Doll’s Go-Kart Track on Oakman near Grand River.

Ronnie further extended that love to all workers, as a union activist member of Ironworkers Local 25 and co-drafter of Executive Order #22, which guaranteed jobs for Blacks and others of color, women and city residents.

Ronnie was also a long-time organizer with the Detroit and Pontiac Coalitions Against Police Brutality.

In 1995, he financed three busloads of men who attended the historic Million Man March on Washington. Ronnie also battled against mass incarceration and wrongful convictions, including that of his son Darron, falsely arrested and convicted in 1998, and that of juvenile lifer Charles Lewis, released after 46 years in prison.

RONNIE–MAN OF IRON

Black ironworkers at Detroit’s Fox Theater.

Ronnie was an ironworker for 48 years, a member of Detroit Ironworkers Local 25. Such jobs require great strength and courage in dealing with dangerous conditions.

He was a Black ironworker at a time when the skilled trades strongly discriminated against Blacks, women and Detroit residents. Darleen Hereford told VOD that Ronnie and another Local 25 member, Ken Smallwood, met with Detroit’s Mayor Coleman Young to map out a proposal for what became Executive Order #22 in 1983.

EO 22 required that all construction contractors with the City of Detroit hire 50 percent Detroit residents, 25 percent Blacks and other people of color, and 5 percent women.

Executive Order #22 was a strong challenge to the city’s corporate establishment as well as to the skilled trades unions. It held sway for nearly 20 years, as workers in the Human Rights Department monitored it and confronted those who did not comply. They were able to cancel contracts in those situations, after being schooled in standing firm during on-site inspections and meetings with contractors and union leaders.

Detroit Mayor Coleman Young in 1981

This writer worked in the Human Rights Department from 1995 to 1999, under Mayor Dennis Archer, and witnessed the craven dismantling of the Order as a backlash against affirmative action swept the U.S.  Human Rights Department workers were stripped of the ability to cancel contracts with violators, and the required numbers were replaced with ineffective “goals.”

Ironworkers Local 25 logo.

Ronnie was a dedicated union activist, working with Local 25 on many battles over the decades. Darleen Hereford recalled one time when Ronnie and other organizers shut down the Ambassador Bridge to protest anti-labor activity by employers, one of many memories. Local 25 was headquartered in Detroit at the time, but has since moved to Novi.

THE BATTLE TO FREE DARRON HEREFORD FROM RACIST FRAME-UP THAT COST HIM A DECADE OF HIS LIFE

Darron Hereford today FaceBook

In the biggest battle of their lives, Ronnie, Darleen and their children fought with fierce determination to free their son Darron Hereford after his false arrest in 1999 for robbing a Southfield ‘Hungry Howie’s” restaurant. Darron worked there after high school but quit after experiencing harassment from the white managers. Shortly afterwards, Southfield police framed him for a robbery there, which took place while he was home with his parents.

The Michigan Citizen published multiple in-depth articles by this writer on Darrons’ case.

Darron was railroaded in a bench trial by Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Rudy Nichols, who allowed the prosecutor to present a mentally impaired witness to testify against him over the objections of the young man’s mother, during a conference without the presence of  Darron’s defense attorney. With his parents’ support, he appealed all the way to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court, which remanded the case back to the trial judge, but proceedings at that level through 2010 did not result in his freedom.

Ronnie’s heart, if not his will to fight, was broken by his beloved son Darron’s unjust 10-year incarceration after his false conviction.

RONNIE CONTINUED THE BATTLE FOR OTHERS VICTIMIZED BY RACIST POLICE AND COURTS THROUGHOUT THE REST OF HIS LIFE.

Ronnie Hereford (l) DCAPB members Arnetta Grable, Sr. (center) and Cornell Squires (r).

Ronnie sponsored a  2009 “Fun-Raiser” at Doll’s Track for this writer, after her 2008 false arrest and conviction for assaulting state troopers while covering the death of two Detroit men during a high speed chase down Davison Avenue in 2008.

See: Defend Diane Bukowski » FUN-RAISER at DOLL’S GO-KART TRACK (freedianebukowski.org)

Ronnie joined the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality after its founding by Arnetta Grable and Herman Vallery, who won a $6 million judgment against Detroit police officer Eugene Brown and the City of Detroit on behalf of their son Lamar Grable, murdered in 1996.

Ronnie (right) attended one of many marches for justice for Floyd Dent in 2015, nearly beaten to death by killer cop William Melendez. Marchers carried signs in memory of Aiyana Jones.

The Coalition continued its battle for dozens of others killed by Detroit police through subsequent years, including Aiyana Jones, 7, killed during a horrific police raid on her home in 2010. It foreshadowed the global Black Lives Matter movement triggered by the police murder of George Floyd in 202o.

Meanwhile, after Darron eventually came home from prison, Ronnie continued the battle for others still in prison. In 2017, Ronnie and Darleen attended a court hearing to support juvenile lifer Charles Lewis, who had spent 45 years in prison after being framed for the murder of a white Detroit police officer in 1975.

Ronnie, with Darleen at his right, speaks about his son’s case outside a juvenile lifer hearing for Charles Lewis in 2017. At right are Lewis’ mother Rosie Lewis and his sister Wendy, along with grand-niece Ava in front.

DOLL’S GO KART TRACK “SING-A-SONG” FOR A RIDE JULY, 2014 EVENT

DOLL’S-GO-KART ANNUAL SING A SONG FOR A RIDE A BIG SUCCESS | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

Ronnie listens to child “Sing a Song for a Ride” at Doll’s Go Kart Track July, 2014.

gokart familygokart family little kids

Gokart child good

Gokart multiple

gokart girlsgokart white and Black

 

gokart girl drivers

 

Gokart with office
Gokart workerGokart mother son

 

Gokart 4 drivers

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MUBAREZ AHMED WINS $9.95 M FOR WRONGFUL DETROIT CONVICTION; BAD COPS, PROSECUTORS NOT CHARGED

Ahmed: “Where are the consequences” for Sgt. Ernest Wilson, who framed him and has been named in multiple lawsuits over the years 

“There are dozens and dozens of other innocents still in prison.” –Ahmed

Atty. Wolfgang Mueller calls for speedy resolution of such cases

Why are Thelonious ‘Shawn’ Searcy, Darrell Ewing and Derrico Searcy still confined after definitive Michigan court rulings vacating their wrongful convictions?

   Darrell Ewing (l), Derrico Searcy (r)

DARRELL EWING/DERRICO SEARCY Final Conference 

Judge Darnella Williams-Clayborne

Daily Docket A Thur. July 29, 2021 9 am

JOIN MEETING

 

By Diane Bukowski

July 28, 2021

DETROIT – Exoneree Mubarez Ahmed won a record $9.95 million arbitration award against the City of Detroit July 23, for his wrongful conviction of the murders of Lavelle Griffin and LaTanya White on Feb. 9, 2001. The conviction cost him 17 years of his life in prison. During those years, his mother, his five-year-old son, and an 18-year-old brother died.

Detroit Police Officer Ernest Wilson, the officer in charge of the case and the chief engineer of Ahmed’s false arrest and conviction, was indemnified by the city after first being a co-defendant.

Ahmed and attorneys for Detroit had agreed that the decision would be binding on both sides.

Wilson, previously a star on A & E’s “The First 48,”  has been involved in many such  cases, some of which led to lawsuits. Additionally, Ferndale police arrested him Dec. 6, 2020, allegedly after a high-speed chase, for drunk driving while armed with an illegal weapon.

‘I am pleased to bring this case to a final resolution for Mr. Ahmed,” attorney Wolfgang Mueller told VOD. “But it leaves several questions unanswered. For example, I don’t know why the City still employs Mr. Wilson. The City needs to resolve these [exoneree] cases quickly so it and the exonerees can move forward. A huge trial verdict could devastate the City. The City will pay the arbitration verdict out of the general budget which is ultimately taxpayer money.”

Ahmed himself has expressed outrage that Sgt. Ernest Wilson is still on the force. Wilson coerced the chief trial witness, Izora Clark, to wrongly identify Ahmed during a line-up, and recruited jail-house snitches as well. (See video at top of story.)

“This cop didn’t just take 18 years of my life, he took everything I loved; where are the consequences for him?” Ahmed asked during an interview with Fox2 Detroit News  in 2018.

Mubarez Ahmed with attorney Wolfgang Mueller after filing of lawsuit.

VOD contacted Deputy Chief Rudy Harper of the Detroit Police Department, head of media relations, for comment regarding any actions being taken by the DPD to investigate and charge Sgt. Wilson.

DPD investigator Nicole Kirkwood responded, “I was advised that Sgt. Ernest Wilson is no longer with the department.”

In Ahmed’s lawsuit, Attorney Mueller wrote, “On Feb. 15, 2001, one day after Plaintiff’s arrest, the Officer-in-Charge (“OIC”) of the case, Sgt. Ernest Wilson, brought an eyewitness, Izora Clark, to view a lineup that included Plaintiff.  Immediately before the live lineup, WILSON showed Ms. Clark a photograph of Plaintiff and told her this was the man they believed committed the murder and was in the lineup. WILSON also told Ms. Clark [falsely] that another witness had identified Plaintiff.

“. . . .The showing of the single photo of Ahmed was both unduly suggestive and unnecessary, as Plaintiff was already in custody, having been arrested without a warrant the previous day. Not surprisingly, after the tainted procedure, Ms. Clark identified
MUBAREZ AHMED as the shooter. Plaintiff was the only person in the live lineup who wore a beard.” See full lawsuit complaint at:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Ahmed_v_Detroit_et_al__miedce-18-13849__0001.0-1.pdf

Pros. Kym Worthy (center) with AP Jerry Dorsey IV at press conference.

Mueller also said that Wilson withheld proofs that Ahmed had no access to a car similar to the one seen at the crime scene.

Mueller said the Assistant Prosecutor who signed the warrant based on Wilson’s report was Kenneth King, now a 36th District Court Judge. “He relied on the false statements and fabricated evidence contained in the Investigator’s Report and recommended that Plaintiff be charged with the double-murder of Mr. Griffin and Ms. White.”

The Prosecutor at trial was Jerry Dorsey IV.

Maria Miller, Director of Communications for Prosecutor Kym Worthy, said, “The matter was investigated by the CIU when they reviewed Mr. Ahmed’s case. The CIU did not find that Assistant Prosecutor Jerry Dorsey IV committed any misconduct in Mr. Ahmed’s case. The police misconduct was pervasive and involved lying under oath and coercing the eyewitness. Similarly, during the review of the other 28 cases the conduct of the assistant prosecutors was reviewed and the CIU determined that none have involved prosecutor misconduct.”

P. I. Scott Lewis

A panel of three arbitrators, all former judges, awarded the $9.95 million after several months of dispute. Ahmed, Mueller and attorneys for Detroit agreed that the decision would be binding on both sides.

Private investigator Scott Lewis, formerly a long-time TV news reporter, and the Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan’s law school investigated the case. The Wayne County Conviction Integrity Unit followed, stipulating to the exoneration in court.

“This was a really weak case,” U-M’s Innocence Clinic Director David Moran said in 2018. “An eyewitness ID was the entire case against him. There was no other evidence,” clinic director David Moran said in 2018. “She described the shooter as someone of a different race than Ahmed, and there was also an obvious suspect who wasn’t investigated.”

Mubarez Ahmed – National Registry of Exonerations (umich.edu)

On his release from prison in 2018, Ahmed told the Detroit News that there “dozens and dozens” more innocent people in prison, who have been there for decades. “When you say justice, where is it at? Everybody just ignores it. They’re looking for convictions. Don’t just throw the key away on somebody. Do your job–that’s all.  There are dozens and dozens of prisoners that are innocent, who can’t even be heard, right now, who have spent 20 and 30 and more years in prison.”

Hundreds of families and supporters of prisoners they say are wrongfully convicted took over the street outside the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in downtown Detroit for five hours June 4. The rally was organized by Thelonious ‘Shawn’ Searcy and Darrell Ewing, who each won definitive victories in Michigan courts vacating their convictions and granting them new trials. In both cases, the real perpetrators of the murders they served time for confessed in affidavits and in testimony.

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

Searcy is currently out on appeal bond, confined to home on a tether, as was Mubarez Ahmed, and Ewing is in the Wayne County Jail. His co-defendant Derrico Searcy is still in the MDOC. All three are in limbo, waiting for Worthy’s  action to re-try them or dismiss charges against them in light of the extensive evidence of their innocence.

(L TO R) THELONIOUS ‘SHAWN’ SEARCY, DARRELL EWING, DERRICO SEARCY

In Searcy’s case, well-known hitman Vincent Smothers confessed on the stand in detail over two days, during a 2018 evidentiary hearing, in addition to filing written affidavits and giving a videotaped interview to private investigator Scott Lewis.  In Ewing’s case, the man who confessed, Tyree Washington, had his attorney provide his written confession to Ewing’s  Asst. Prosecutor Kam Towns at trial before his conviction. Washington said Towns would not accept it, saying she already had the guilty parties. Scott Lewis also videotaped Washington’s confession.

In both cases, other extensive evidence surfaced that pointed to the men’s innocence.  Despite the court rulings,  Prosecutor Worthy has delayed any decision on whether to re-try the three men.

Judges on the Darrell Ewing/Derrico Searcy case to date. All ruled in their favor, but Worthy has appealed every ruling.

Ewing and his co-defendant Derrico Searcy, who is Thelonious’ brother, are scheduled for yet their final conference on Thurs. July 29, at 9 a.m. AP Kam Towns has still not provided discovery for a trial, claiming it should be sealed from public view, although earlier court events and information have been publicly available for the last 11 years.

Ewing told VOD, “Kam Towns and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office recent dilatory filings are just that, a stall tactic. The discovery in this case that they seek to conceal has been made public record and out in the hands of everyone for over a decade. Moreover, not one witness on their list has been harassed, intimidated or threatened since our wrongful convictions. Trust, if that was otherwise, the State would have presented the proofs; instead they make blanket assertions.

“Truthfully, my prayer is that Kym Worthy, Valerie Newman, and their entire office have been using this additional time working to clear us of these crimes. If that’s not the case, may Allah (God) convince Judge Clayborne to let justice reign, ordering the prosecution to immediately provide discovery to my defense team of attorneys Coral Watt and Lillian Diallo and expeditiously set this case for trial, or drop the charges. Then and only then will I be able to finally put this never-ending nightmare from Hell to rest once and for all.”

Related:

DID WAYNE CO. APA MUSCAT SUBORN PERJURY IN CASE OF DETROITER KENNETH NIXON? HAS HE DONE IT BEFORE? | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

WAYNE CO. PROSECUTOR KYM WORTHY MUST GO! VOTE FOR VICTORIA BURTON-HARRIS AUG. 4 IN DEM. PRIMARY | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

RAMON WARD, FAMILY CELEBRATE RELEASE AFTER 27 YRS. ON FALSE CONVICTION; WHEN WILL 100’S MORE BE FREED? | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

MICH. SUPREME COURT NIXES WORTHY’S APPEAL OF STRONG COA RULING IN THELONIOUS SEARCY CASE | 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

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Voice of Detroit is a pro bono newspaper, now devoting itself entirely to stories related to our PRISON NATION and POLICE STATE.

VOD’s editors and reporters, most of whom live on fixed incomes or are incarcerated, are not paid for their work. Ongoing costs include quarterly web charges of $435,00, P.O. box fee of $180/yr. and costs for research including court records and internet fees, office supplies, gas, etc.

Please DONATE TO VOD at:

https://www.gofundme.com/donate-to-vod

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MICH. SUPREME COURT NIXES WORTHY’S APPEAL OF STRONG COA RULING IN THELONIOUS SEARCY CASE

In video above, Searcy speaks from home at June 4 rally for the wrongfully convicted at Frank Murphy Hall in downtown Detroit, 0rganized by Operation Liberation,  founded by Searcy and Darrell Ewing. In video, exoneree Larry Smith (l) and Searcy’s wife Tyra Searcy (r) hold portrait.

“The truth has come out, and it is on Searcy’s side.” Atty. Michael Dezsi

 Appeals Court said Judge Timothy Kenny “abused discretion” by calling hit man’s confession ‘unbelievable;’ cited withheld ballistics evidence

Prison is ‘hard enough when you’re guilty, but it’s twice as hard when you’re innocent,” Vincent Smothers’ confession at 2018 hearing

Searcy remains home after April release on appeal bond granted by newly-assigned Judge Thomas Hathaway 

Wayne Co. Prosecutor’s Office: “We will be re-trying this case.” 

Justice delayed: hundreds of Wayne County’s other wrongfully convicted still suffer behind bars 

By Diane Bukowski 

July 20, 2021

Thelonious ‘Shawn’ Searcy

DETROIT—“I’ll be glad when this is all over and done with s0 I can finally live my life,” Thelonious ‘Shawn’ Searcy told VOD July 6, as his 17-year battle for freedom from a wrongful murder conviction appeared headed to a successful finish.

In a single sentence that day, the Michigan Supreme Court denied the Wayne County Prosecutor’s last-ditch appeal of a Feb. 11 Court of Appeals ruling. The COA vacated Searcy’s conviction for the murder of Jamal Segars and wounding of his passenger outside Detroit City Airport in Sept. 2004.

“DENIED,” the court said tersely, “because we are not persuaded that the question presented should be reviewed by this Court.”

See http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/MSC-162829-PEOPLE-OF-MI-V-THELONIOUS-DESHANE-EAR-SEARCY2-Order-07_06_2021.pdf,

Thelonious Searcy consults with Atty. Michael Dezsi during his evidentiary hearing in 2018.

“The truth has come out, and it is on Searcy’s side,” attorney Michael Dezsi told VOD.  “The Michigan Supreme Court has declined to take up the case and is allowing the Michigan Court of Appeals decision to stand: that Searcy is entitled to a new trial after new evidence surfaced that exonerates him of the crime.”

He explained, “The Michigan Supreme Court made the right decision as there were no grounds to challenge the Court of Appeals decision finding that Searcy is entitled to a new trial.   Searcy is looking forward to being fully and finally exonerated after being wrongfully locked up for 17 years.  If the Wayne County prosecutor doesn’t dismiss the charges against him, we are certain that a jury will quickly acquit him of these charges given that someone else has confessed to the crime, and the police withheld key bullet evidence that establishes that Searcy didn’t shoot the victim.” See full COA ruling at:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/COA-2Thelonious-Searcy-20210211.pdf

At a 2018 evidentiary hearing on the case, admitted hit man Vincent Smothers confessed in detail t0 the Sept. 2004 murder of Jamal Segars and the wounding of his passenger near Detroit City Airport.  Smothers earlier confessed to the four Runyon Street murders in 2007, for which Detroit police and prosecutors framed 14-year-old Davontae Sanford. Sanford was released in 2015 after his case became known world-wide.

Vincent Smothers (r) testifies in front of Judge Timothy Kenny (l)  March 19, 2018. Kenny ruled on the hearing six months later, just prior to becoming Chief Judge. Judge Thomas Hathaway is currently in charge of the case.

In their opinion, the appeals panel called Wayne Co. 3rd Circuit Court Judge Timothy Kenny’s ruling after the hearing that Smothers’ confession was unbelievable an “abuse of discretion,” because such a determination is reserved for a jury. The panel reviewed Smothers’ testimony, given against the advice of his attorney, at length. Defense attorneys say such a ruling against a judge is rare.

Wayne Co. APA Patrick Muscat, at right, prosecuted (l to r) Kenneth Nixon and Davontae Sanford, now considered wrongfully convicted, and Thelonious ‘Shawn” Searcy.

The appeals court also cited Asst. Prosecutor Patrick Muscat’s suppression of key ballistics evidence during Searcy’s trial, aided by Judge Kenny’s rulings. Kenny led the jury to believe that bullets from a .45 caliber gun were the only evidence in question.

“Although the jury disregarded the many witnesses who provided alibi testimony on behalf of Searcy at trial, if the jury was aware that the bullet that was found in the murder victim was from a .40-caliber gun and that Smothers was taking responsibility for the crimes, they may have put more stock in Searcy’s alibi defense,” the panel said. “In sum, when considering the trial evidence in light of the other evidence that would be presented at retrial, we conclude that Searcy has a reasonably likely chance of acquittal. See MCR 6.508(D)(3)(b)(i)(A). Therefore, the trial court abused its discretion by denying Searcy’s motion for relief from judgment with respect to Searcy’s claim of new evidence relating to Smothers.”

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy

Multiple witnesses testified at trial that Searcy was attending a barbecue event at the time of the Segars murder.

VOD contacted Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s office for comment on the July 6 state Supreme Court ruling.

Maria Miller, press representative for Worthy, replied, “Here is my only comment. WCPO will be re-trying this case.”

Working from home, Searcy co-organized a rally by and for the wrongfully convicted outside Worthy’s office in the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice on June 4. Hundreds turned out for the event.  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

After the rally, Worthy told media outlets that she would organize a town hall meeting on wrongful convictions, to hear stories from the families at the rally and others with such complaints. VOD contacted her office for this story. They said the meeting will be announced this summer.

Judge Thomas Hathaway at Searcy appeal bond hearing March 1, 2021.

Prosecutor Worthy appealed the Feb. 11 COA ruling on Searcy’s case to the Michigan Supreme Court April 5. (Previously, the MSC sent the case back to the COA on an earlier appeal, instructing them to address extensive issues of fact.)

Wayne Co. 3rd Judicial Circuit Court Judge Thomas Hathaway firmly granted Searcy an appeal bond at a hearing March 1, specifying home confinement while prosecutors decide whether to retry him.  He specified no cash bond, but later amended that to include a cash bond of $50,000 ($5,000 to bail bondsman), at AP Thomas Chambers’ insistence. Searcy’s family paid the bond immediately, and he was released

Judge Hathaway ordered Searcy’s release either on the day the Wayne County Prosecutor appealed the COA ruling again to the Michigan Supreme Court, or by April 4, the last day the prosecution could appeal, noting the prosecutor’s history of repeated appeals. That way, whether they appealed or not, Searcy would finally be free, at least for the time being. See:

Detroit man freed pending possible murder retrial seeks ‘normalcy’ (detroitnews.com) and Murder convict to be on home confinement pending new trial request (detroitnews.com)

Darrell Ewing (l), Derrico Searcy (r).

Searcy and Darrell Ewing, currently at the Wayne County Jail pending a decision from Prosecutor Worthy on whether to release or re-try him, founded Operation Liberation with the aid of their families in 2016.

Operation Liberation sponsored the June 4 rally at the Frank Murphy Hall in downtown Detroit which drew a crowd of hundreds who called for freedom for their loved ones, including his own brother Derrico Searcy, who is Ewing’s co-defendant.

For Mothers Day May 9, Searcy put together an extended family celebration at his home to honor the women in the family’s lives, including Searcy’s grandmother Edna Richardson.

Shawn Searcy’s grandmother Edna Richardson as young woman. This portrait was displayed at the Mothers Day event May 9, 2021.

Mrs. Richardson has worked for his freedom since police invaded her home in 2004 to wrongfully arrest him for the murder of Jamal Segars, terrorizing Searcy’s wife and children, who were visiting, as well. She has held volumes of his legal documents for safekeeping as he began studying the law, obtained his homicide file, spoken with reporters, and leant other support through the years.

Before his release, Searcy had completed a paralegal course with nearly straight A’s for him. He himself filed the pro se motion for relief from judgment and actual innocence which eventually led to his release.

Over 21,000 people have signed Change.Org’s petition calling for Searcy’s immediate release. It is at Petition · FREE WRONGFULLY CONVICTED THELONIOUS SHAWN SEARCY!!!! · Change.org

He is also featured nationally on Thelonious Searcy (actualinnocentprisoners.com).

Kym Worthy and two other prosecutors featured in “Innocence Deniers.”

Searcy’s evidentiary hearing in 2018 garnered extensive mainstream media coverage, particularly due to the testimony of Vincent Smothers, the admitted hitman who also confessed earlier to the crimes for which 14-year-old Davontae Sanford was charged in 2009.

Prosecutor Worthy to this day does not admit that Sanford, released in 2015 on a dismissal without prejudice, is actually innocent. A national article called her and two other prosecutors across the U.S. “Innocence Deniers.” See Innocence deniers: Prosecutors who have refused to admit wrongful convictions. (slate.com). Deadline Detroit | Lengel: Slate Magazine Slams Prosecutor Kym Worthy As an ‘Innocence Denier’.

Bel0w is private investigator Scott Lewis’ interview of Vincent Smothers detailing the murder of Jamal Segars and his role as the shooter.

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Voice of Detroit is a pro bono newspaper, now devoting itself entirely to stories related to our PRISON NATION and POLICE STATE.

VOD’s editors and reporters, most of whom live on fixed incomes or are incarcerated, are not paid for their work. Ongoing costs include quarterly web charges of $435,00, P.O. box fee of $180/yr. and costs for research including court records and internet fees, office supplies, gas, etc.

Please DONATE TO VOD at:

https://www.gofundme.com/donate-to-vod

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Below:  Searcy’s court documents and VOD STORIES ON THELONIOUS SEARCY’S WRONGFUL CONVICTION IN 2005, EVIDENTIARY HEARING 2017-18, IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER: Continue reading

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FROM PROSECUTED TO WORKING FOR THE PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE: A STORY OF CONTINUING TRANSFORMATION

Edward Sanders on his first day of work at the Washtenaw Co. Prosecutor’s Office.

Former juvenile lifer Edward Sanders starts work for Washtenaw County’s Conviction Integrity & Expungement Unit

Sanders spent 42 yrs. in prison as a juvenile lifer, released in 2017

Studied law, ran legal classes, helped others as paralegal in MDOC, now active in continuing struggle for liberation

July 8th, 2021

Article from Safe and Just Michigan blog: 

From prosecuted to working for the prosecutor’s office: A story of continuing transformation – Safe & Just Michigan (safeandjustmi.org)

(Safe & Just Michigan first interviewed Edward Sanders, a former juvenile lifer, in July 2018, after he had been released from prison for about a year. Since then, he has contacted us periodically to keep us up-to-date on what his life has been like since then. He recently reached out to us to give us some significant news.)

Ann Arbor, MI--When he was 17, Edward Sanders stood before a judge who told him he’d spend the rest of his life in prison — but that didn’t happen. One of Michigan’s juvenile lifers, he got a chance for freedom more than 42 years later because the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all juvenile lifers deserved a chance for a resentencing. When Sanders finally got his in 2017, he was released.

Anyone could forgive Sanders if he never wanted another thing to do with the justice system after that. Instead, he’s running toward it as fast as he can. Sanders, who received a master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan earlier this year, started a job with the Washtenaw County Conviction Integrity & Expungement Unit in late June. That’s not all — he’s also hoping to start law school soon.

“I’m not the kind of person who can perpetually be at rest. I wake up early in the morning and I need something to do,” Sanders said. “I want to combine both social service and law — to combine knowledge instead of putting it into silos. What I want to do is bring about more transformational reform and work towards abolition.”

For Sanders, it’s all a part of communing with his creator. Helping others and working to bring about systemic change to the criminal justice system are two of the things that make his life meaningful. And that’s why he’s so excited about his new job in the prosecutor’s office.

Sander’s won’t be involved in the prosecution of anyone. Quite the opposite, he will be investigating possible wrongful convictions with the aim of releasing people who are currently incarcerated.

“It feels very exciting,” Sanders said. “I’m very excited for this county, and excited to be working with so many dynamic people. (Assistant Prosecuting Attorney) Victoria Burton Harris is someone I have so much respect for, and (Washtenaw County Prosecutor) Eli Savit clerked with a Supreme Court justice.”

Edward Sanders at Michigan State Capitol in Lansing.

Savit didn’t just clerk for any Supreme Court justice, Sanders noted. He worked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who helped decide the 2012 Miller v. Alabama ruling that gave juvenile lifers like himself a chance for a resentencing. She later sided with the majority in the 2016 Montgomery v. Louisiana ruling that made the Miller case retrospective for people like Sanders who had been incarcerated for decades. Savit clerked for Justice Ginsberg from 2014-15.

But — as is typical for Sanders — he doesn’t view landing this job as achieving an end goal. His new position is crucial in correcting errors after the fact. He envisions a future where those errors don’t happen in the first place.

“I would like to help advocate for policy change,” Sanders said. “This is about being responsible and having policies to prevent wrongful convictions in the future.”

For Sanders, bringing about transformational criminal justice reform is rooted in his spirituality. As a child growing up in Detroit, he lived near both Malcom X’s house and the church where Aretha Franklin’s father was a pastor. He went to a Catholic summer camp that instilled in him the value of providing service to others.

After he was sent to prison, that need to be of service didn’t die out.

“I was not going under the rock that was intended for me to go under,” he recalled. “I was going to use it as an educational experience.”

Edward Sanders helped organize rally for juvenile lifers still in MDOC in Jan. 2021

Sanders hit the law books and became a paralegal. He used what he learned to help other people in prison prepare for their court dates.

“A former prisoner used to call me a civil rights attorney. I took offense to that,” he said with a laugh. “I saw myself as more of a Black power type. But now I see it.”

Sanders now wishes that others who see themselves as spiritual or religious would draw on their faith and become involved in the fight for criminal justice reform. After all, he reasons, values like redemption, second chances and forgiveness are literally written into the texts of all major faith traditions.

“I would ask the clergy that no matter what type of politics you get into, don’t ever give up on the idea of pardons and reprieves,” Sanders said. “Bring your sense of grace and mercy with you.”

Edward Sanders at mass rally for wrongfully convicted June 4, 2021, in downtown Detroit

VOD editor Diane Bukowski covered Edward Sanders’ case extensively for the Michigan Citizen starting in 2004, then for VOD. Wayne Co. has the highest proportion of juvenile lifers in Michigan and the U.S.; the U.S. Supreme Court vacated their sentences in 2012 and 2016, but 150 remain left behind. Sanders helped organize rally in Jan. 2021 demanding release of juvenile lifers.

150 MICHIGAN JUVENILE LIFERS FACE POSSIBLE DEATH FROM COVID-19 AS THEY SERVE OUTLAWED SENTENCES | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

DOES KYM WORTHY WANT 54 MICH. JUVENILE LIFERS TO DIE IN PRISON, VIOLATING U.S. SUPREME COURT ORDERS? | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

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Voice of Detroit is a pro bono newspaper, now devoting itself entirely to stories related to our PRISON NATION and POLICE STATE.

VOD’s editors and reporters, most of whom live on fixed incomes or are incarcerated, are not paid for their work. Ongoing costs include quarterly web charges of $435,00, P.O. box fee of $180/yr. and costs for research including court records and internet fees, office supplies, gas, etc.

Please DONATE TO VOD at:

https://www.gofundme.com/donate-to-vod

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DURESS FROM COVID-19 INFLUENCED NO CONTEST PLEA IN GREGORY BERRY CASE; EVIDENCE SHOWED INNOCENCE


______________
Video above

The brief video above was part of a story on a non-profit’s assistance to returning citizens. The story says Berry had no resources on his release.

Berry convicted due to “mere presence” at scene of killing, agreed to plea deal due to fear of dying from COVID-19

Co-defendant recanted statement he said DPD, including Inv. Barbara Simon, forced him to sign; Simon linked to other wrongful convictions

Ricardo Ferrell

By Ricardo Ferrell

VOD Field Editor

 June 28, 2021

Diane Bukowski, VOD editor:  Gregory Berry’s story brings to mind the release of Ray Gray, covered earlier by Ferrell. Gray, a Golden Gloves champion in his youth and a celebrated artist while in  prison,  served almost 50 years a murder he did not commit. Two eyewitnesses including the actual killer and the woman who rented the apartment where the killing happened gave sworn statements that Gray was not there. Former broadcaster and innocence investigator Bill Proctor campaigned  for actual exoneration for Gray, based on extensive evidence.

Ray Gray with wife Barbara on his release May 25, 2021.

But Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy claimed a third eyewitness still maintains her identification of the killer. Gray pled guilty to 2nd-degree murder to obtain his release to take care of his severely ill wife.

He and Berry have thus been denied access to state-mandated funds for victims of wrongful convictions and clearance of their criminal records, among other consequences of such plea deals.

Despite maintaining his innocence for more than 17 years, and having newly discovered evidence presented to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Conviction Integrity Unit by his attorney James Sterling Lawrence, which proved he had been wrongfully convicted of a homicide he did not commit, Gregory Berry faced the possibility of becoming one of the more than 142 prisoners that have died of complications from the Coronavirus.

In early December 2020, Berry tested positive for COVID while housed at the Chippewa Correctional Facility. His symptoms worsened day-by-day, where he lost his taste/smell, had a high fever of 102, with cold sweats, body aches and difficulty breathing. The MDOC opened what they called COVID units and housed sick infected prisoners in the same space with each other, as a way to control the disease and keep it from spreading. However, that measure proved to be a failure because not only did infections increase, sick prisoners got even sicker and some even died after being transferred to the COVID units.

Berry, as he struggled everyday with battling the virus, says he also had a legitimate concern not just about hoping to get well and recover, but whether or not he would ever make it out of prison alive, before proving his innocence.

“COVID for me was a wake-up call,” Berry said. “When I contracted it, the disease was destroying my physical existence. It was causing me to lose hope and my will to live started to diminish, as I watched those around me being wiped out by this deadly virus. My suffering was something I’d never before experienced. It felt like my body was rapidly breaking down and losing the strength to function properly. I thought I was going to die and started having dreams of dying, and that my 8×10 cell would become my grave,” says Berry.

With over 26,000 of the MDOCs 32,000 prisoners having contracted COVID-19, nearly 145 of that number have been killed by this disease. There are roughly 315 prisoners currently in step-down units due to COVID according to the state’s coronavirus website: Michigan.gov/corrections “Coronavirus Update”, which further shows that this virus isn’t done yet. More infections and deaths will occur.

I asked Gregory Berry during a recent telephone interview, why would he accept and take a plea, when there’s new evidence that proves he didn’t commit the 2003 homicide of Octavio Hernandez?

“Honestly speaking, when my attorney told me about the nolo contendere plea being offered I declined, and told him there’s no way I’m admitting to committing this crime, when I, as well as everyone else, know I am innocent. The police know, the prosecutor knows, and my family knows that I have been wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for a crime someone else has stepped up and admitted their culpability in, so why should I have to take a plea?,” Berry said.

Protest outside San Quentin Prison in California, May 2020

“After going to bed that night and thinking about how I had been put at risk of dying from this disease, coupled with the fact I read an article in the Detroit Free Press how over 115 prisoners had contracted COVID-19 a second time, I was devastated and petrified over the idea, that even though I was sitting in prison innocent, I could still actually die right there in that cell. The pressure was enormous and it intensified, the stress of it all consumed my rationality, and I felt that if I was going to give myself a chance of not dying from COVID, I had no other choice but to accept the offer, which would prompt my immediate release and better my chance of recovering from this virus. I thought about a prisoner who had died, from his second bout with COVID and that sort of informed my decision to take the no contest plea,” stated Berry.

This writer has covered stories of other wrongfully convicted people, yet this particular case stands out due to the circumstances surrounding why Gregory Berry ended up accepting the offer from the Wayne County Prosecutors Office. It’s my belief that Berry didn’t just take the plea so that he could simply get out of prison, it had more to do with his frame of mind, at a time when he’s suffering from the impact of COVID-19 and struggling to make a conscious decision he felt could save his life.

Gregory Berry’s mother Kelly Cady and supporters fought to free him. FB photo

The question has to be asked, why would the CIU and Prosecutor after completing its review and investigation, first move to have Berry’s convictions vacated and dismissed, then turn around and draw up a no contest plea for Accessory After the Fact, for Berry supposedly driving Hamilton away from the scene of the crime?  There was a sworn affidavit and testimony indicating Berry drove away out of the Mobil gas station, and Hamilton had to run and dive into the window of the car. That was indicative of Berry not having anything to do with the shooting, thereby absolving him of any culpability in the crime.

Hamilton’s own words exonerated Berry, indicating he had nothing to do with his the robbery-murder. It shows Berry driving a car that Hamilton forced his way into when he dove through the open window.

Berry should’ve been totally exonerated and apologized to for having to serve more than 17 years of his life behind bars for a crime everyone knows he did not commit. For Berry to receive money  under the State’s Compensation Act should be a no brainer. He actually deserves more than the $850,000 allotment because there isn’t any amount of money that can compare to the years he lost during his wrongful convictions and false imprisonment.

In light of the injustice and obvious debacle by the Detroit Police Department, and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office wrongfully prosecuting an innocent man for the Hernandez murder, Berry deserves a lot more than a plea bargain to a one-to-five year sentence and time served. He should be given a full exoneration, not a partial one with legal maneuvering and  strings attached. Michigan law allows for the challenging of a plea under duress.

Related:

RAY GRAY, FREE AFTER NEARLY HALF-CENTURY BEHIND BARS, VOWS TO CONTINUE BATTLE FOR EXONERATION | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/The-Criminal-Defense-of-“Mere-Presence”-_-Koehler-Law.pdf

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Voice of Detroit is a pro bono newspaper, which now devotes itself entirely to stories related to our PRISON NATION and POLICE STATE.

VOD’s editors and reporters, most of whom live on fixed incomes or are incarcerated, are not paid for their work. Ongoing costs include quarterly web charges of $435,00, P.O. box fee of $180/yr. and costs for research including court records and internet fees, office supplies, gas, etc.

Please DONATE TO VOD at:

https://www.gofundme.com/donate-to-vod

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DETROIT: FAMILIES OF WRONGFULLY CONVICTED TELL PROS. KYM WORTHY, POLICE, JUDGES–‘FREE THEM ALL’

Hearing held June 21, 2021 on Darrell Ewing (2nd row, l), Derrico Searcy (3rd row, l). Attys. Lillian Diallo (2nd row, 2nd from l), Coral Watt (3rd row r) and Blase Kearney (1st row, 2nd from r) represented defendants; AP Kam Towns (3rd row, second from 4) for prosecution.

UPDATE JUNE 21, 2021

Darrell Ewing/Derrico Searcy case: Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy, AP Kam Towns still stall compliance with orders by 8 judges for new trial.

Hearing to continue Thurs. July 29, 2021 at 9 a.m.

Detroit–Wayne Co. 3rd Judicial Circuit Court Judge Darnella Williams-Claybourne ordered all parties to reconvene Thursday, July 29 at 9 a.m. after Wayne Co. Assistant Prosecutor Kam Towns pressed for a “protective order” on case and witness information.

Defense attorneys Lillian Diallo and Coral Watt (for Ewing) and Blase Kearney (for Searcy) said Towns is seeking to exclude information protected under the Sixth Amendment.

Darrell Ewing and Derrico Searcy (top); 8 judges who affirmed order for new trial.

“We are not signing [for] a protective order,” Atty. Diallo said. “The prosecutor has the burden to show  there should be a protective order.  We have been going back and forth on this.”

Diallo cited a March 11, 2021 Michigan Court of Appeals ruling in the case of Ricky Dale Jack which held that unredacted police reports must be provided to the defense. The opinion says the prosecution CAN request a protective order, but AP Towns has not filed a motion for such an order to date.

COA 354524 PEOPLE OF MI V RICKY DALE JACK Opinion – Authored – Published 03/11/2021

Eight judges (at right) have ruled that Ewing and Searcy must get a new trial on murder charges in the 1999 death  of J.B. Watson, but Prosecutor Worthy has appealed at every step. She said last month  she will re-try the case, instead of releasing Ewing and Searcy for lack of sufficient evidence.

In a separate matter relating to Ewing, federal prosecutors said, “According to a representative of the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, he is not
expected to be retried until the late fall of 2021, at the earliest.”

Unprecedented turn-0ut of hundreds  for June 4 rally to free wrongfully convicted,  filling the street at Detroit’s Frank Murphy Hall for 5 hours 

Historic event called by wrongfully  convicted Thelonious ‘Shawn’ Searcy, Darrell Ewing, and their families, founders of OPERATION LIBERATION

“This is a MOVEMENT!” — LaSonya Dodson, mother of Darrell Ewing 

Exonerees Larry Smith, Kevin Harrington, George Clark, Kenneth Nixon and Davontae Sanford joined  families of loved ones still in prison

Michigan Liberation,  NY’s “Silent Cry,” Pure Heart Foundation joined rally

MONDAY, JUNE 21, 9 AM: Hearing on Darrell Ewing/Derrico Searcy case in front of Judge Darnella Williams-Claybourne to decide re-trial or release.

Faces of Michigan’s wrongfully convicted, displayed in 2 banners by Tearra Dodson.

VOD has covered the cases of the wrongfully convicted men above, still in MDOC, Wayne Co. Jail, or out on bond, (l to r): Thelonious ‘Shawn’ Searcy, Darrell Ewing, Derrico Searcy, Ricky Rimmer-Bey, Carl Hubbard, David Shelton, Temujin Kensu.

Ricardo Ferrell

By Diane Bukowski, VOD editor with 

Ricardo Ferrell, VOD field editor

(Ricardo Ferrell, incarcerated since 1981, writes from inside the walls. He has authored VOD’s stories on many of the wrongfully convicted people noted in this article, and written over 40 articles for VOD. He writes for other publications as well.)

This is a feature article, with numerous videos and photos of the historic event June 4, meant to fully reflect the accounts of wrongfully convicted men and women represented at the rally.

June 14, 2021

Nieces of Tamera Washington  demand, “Free Them All” at wrongful conviction rally.

DETROIT– This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Attica Rebellion, a heroic four-day uprising Sept. 9, 1971 by 1281 prisoners demanding basic human rights, which reverberated around the world. It ended with the slaughter of at least 33 prisoners and 10 corrections employees by State Police, called in by New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller.

But the Attica uprising inspired a global prisoner solidarity movement, like that triggered by the torture-execution of George Floyd by Minneapolis police May 25, 2020.

The “Rally/Protest for the Wrongfully Convicted”  held June 4 at the Frank Murphy courthouse and jail in downtown Detroit had the feel of another such movement in birth.

Thelonious ‘Shawn’ Searcy, Darrell Ewing: 

Operation Liberation phone # 586-943-8780

Thelonious ‘Shawn’ Searcy, at home on tether.

Thelonious ‘Shawn’ Searcy, speaking from home while on tether in the video above, and Darrell Ewing, currently held at the Wayne County Jail awaiting a hearing June 21, masterminded and organized this event.

Searcy told VOD that he and Ewing founded “Operation Liberation” in 2016 while both were confined in the Michigan Department of Corrections, fighting for their freedom, and that of Ewing’s co-defendant Derrico Searcy, Shawn’s brother, from wrongful convictions.

Searcy spent 17 years in the MDOC, while Ewing has been there 11 years. Both devoted their time to studying the law, determined to find a way home while aiding others with their cases and mobilizing people on both sides of the walls.  Both recently won stunning victories at Michigan’s Court of Appeals which affirmed previous rulings by higher courts.

Voice of Detroit’s most recent articles on their victories, which include links to previous coverage from 2017 on:

THELONIOUS ‘SHAWN’ SEARCY WINS NEW TRIAL; MICH. APPEALS COURT CITES HITMAN’S CONFESSION, BALLISTICS | 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

Ewing and his co-defendant Derrico Searcy, currently housed at the Wayne County Jail downtown, are scheduled for a hearing Mon. June 21 at 9 a.m. in front of Judge Darnella Williams-Clayborne to determine whether or not Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy will re-try them.

Searcy said he and Darrell’s sister Cieddah Ewing worked day and night for weeks, recruiting wrongfully convicted people they met in and outside prison, along with their families, Wayne County exonerees, and community supporters across the country, from Miami to New York City to Los Angeles. Shawn Searcy worked from home, where he is being held on appeal bond after a definitive victory in the Court of Appeals, pending Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s decision on whether to re-try him.

He said that he and Cieddah told Ewing’s mother LaSonya Dodson to take a break from her non-stop battle to free her son, while they took the organizing work on. Darrell’s sister Tearra Dodson provided stunning banners showing the faces of dozens of the wrongfully convicted. Families and supporters wore T-shirts and carried signs advocating for their loved ones.

Cieddah Ewing, sister of Darrell

Willie Merriweather

Video above: Exoneree Kevin Harrington leads opening prayer; co-chair Cieddah Ewing explains the rally’s goals, calls for a people’s townhall meeting for the wrongfully convicted:

“We want to shed light on the corruption that’s taking place in the City of Detroit, to speak for the voiceless, so the people can bear witness to what’s taking place in the Prosecutor’s office, Frank Murphy Hall, and the DPD homicide section.” –Cieddah Ewing

Advocate for Willie Merriweather, in prison 37 yrs. due to DPD HQ 9th floor snitch accounts.

Mr. Merriweather, in 2015 letter to Rev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Willie-Merriweather-The-City-of-Detroit-Corrupt-Police-Force.pdf 

Larry Smith, exonerated Feb. 2021

(Above) Larry Smith, exonerated February 4, 2021 after 26 years in prison,  hit the ground running, spending 24/7 fighting for those he left behind. He was one of dozens convicted with false testimony from DPD’s “Ring of Snitches,” used by the prosecutor’s office. Larry’s mother Debra Smith and daughter Nakira Smith joined him June 4(See videos of their talks below.) 

WRONGFULLY CONVICTED AND FREED AFTER 26 YRS, LARRY SMITH LISTS MANY MORE WHO SHOULD FOLLOW | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought AND

LARRY SMITH FREED, JOINING OTHERS FRAMED BY DETROIT POLICE, PROSECUTORS USING ‘RING OF SNITCHES’ | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

Exonerees Kevin Harrington & George Clark;

Vargas & Marco Johnson, Ricky Rimmer-Bey, Carl Hubbard

Marco and Vargas Johnson

Exoneree Kevin Harrington, from Inkster, speaks above. He was joined by his co-defendant exoneree George Clark, and met with the families of  Inkster natives Vargas and Marco Johnson (r) in prison for nearly 30 years. Harrington and Clark were framed by Inkster PD Det. Anthony Abdallah, while Inkster PD Det. Gregory Hill framed the Johnsons, according to witness recantations.Family members of Vargas and Marco Johnson, inc. (r) Vargas’ wife Niecola Klima.

MICH. LIFERS VARGAS & MARCO JOHNSON FIGHT 30-YR. FRAME-UP; CITE INKSTER COP FROM 2 EXONEREES’ CASE | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

Stories on Ricky Rimmer-Bey and Carl Hubbard, convicted on false and coerced witness testimony, mirroring Harrington/Clark and Johnson cases:

MICHIGAN LIFER RICKY RIMMER-BEY: CONVICTED DRUG DEALER COP JAMES HARRIS FRAMED ME FOR MURDER | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

TIME TO FREE CARL HUBBARD; AP GONZALES JAILED KEY PROS. WITNESS AFTER HE RECANTED AT TRIAL | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

LaSonya Dodson, mother, Darrell Ewing

LaSonya Dodson, with family members has tirelessly fought to free her son Darrell Ewing and his co-defendant Derrico Searcy for 11 years. Eight judges in four courts have ordered new trials for Ewing and co-defendant Derrico Searcy. However, Prosecutor Worthy continues to push for a re-trial, not release.  She may reconsider after she has viewed the following, which leaves little room for doubt about the wrongful convictions of Ewing and Searcy.:

View 8 episodes of STATE vs. DARRELL EWING on Undisclosed, a national podcast series featuring legal and expert analyses of cases. 

Undisclosed Podcast (undisclosed-podcast.com)

Nakira Smith, daughter of Larry Smith

EXONERATE HIM!

Family calls for loved one’s exoneration June 4, 2021 (Please call 313-825-6126 so his name can be included in this article.)

LET MY PEOPLE GO !!

Nicholas Buckingham, Michigan Liberation

Michigan Liberation members.

“Not only do we need to call out police and prosecutors, we need to call out judges.”

Michigan Liberation BAILS BLACK MAMAS OUT, calls for bail reform.

Women–Black women– the fastest growing population in MDOC, housed only at Huron Valley under horrible conditions.

Michigan Liberation | Comprehensive criminal justice reform – courts, prosecutors, policing, prisons, juvenile systems, re-entry and diversion programs, and parole. (miliberation.org)

Davontae Sanford, wrongfully convicted at age 14

Davontae Sanford with mother Taminko Sanford-Tilmon and late stepfather Jermaine Tilmon; both led battle to free their child.

VOD editor Diane Bukowski covered Davontae Sanford’s case extensively, starting in 2010. His case is the most egregious example of a deliberate frame-up carried out by DPD and the prosecutor’s office, who knew from the day of the Runyon St. murders in 2007 that Sanford was not involved.

DAVONTAE SANFORD FORMALLY FREED; TIME FOR CHARGES VS. KYM WORTHY, COPS IN FRAME-UP | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

Taminko Sanford June 29, 2010/photo  by Diane Bukowski

MSP: WAYNE CO. PROS. KYM WORTHY KNEW DAVONTAE SANFORD WAS INNOCENT FOR 8 YEARS, NOT 8 MOS. | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

VICTORY FOR DAVONTAE SANFORD IN APPEAL OF CONVICTION AT AGE 14 FOR FOUR MURDERS | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

 Shawanna Vaughn, founder of ‘Silent Cry’ in NYC 

‘Silent Cry’ at Gus Harrison CF Dec. 11, 2020: (l to r): Shawanna Vaughn, Shirletha Gaskins-El, Justus Noww

COPING WITH COVID-19 IN MICHIGAN PRISONS: RALLY BY ‘SILENT CRY’ FRI. DEC. 11 AT GUS HARRISON CF IN ADRIAN | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

DO PRISONERS LIVES MATTER? 125 NOW DEAD, HALF IN MICH. DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS INFECTED WITH COVID-19 | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

Silent Cry, Inc. | Silent Cry, Inc. (silentcryinc.org)

(20+) Silent Cry Inc. | Facebook

(19) Silent Cry Inc. (@SilentcrySv) / Twitter

Shawanna Vaughn and Silent Cry members travel across the U.S. to advocate for men and women victimized by mass incarceration.

They also have a YouTube channel which just featured VOD Field editor Ricardo Ferrell from inside the walls. Ferrell has been serving a LIFE WITH PAROLE sentence since 1981. The parole board has constantly denied his release despite his excellent record, numerous contributions and talents. 

The U.S. is the only country in the world that sentences people to ACTUAL DEATH in prison:

FREE RICARDO NOW!

Chauncey Johnson, formerly incarcerated

Chauncey Johnson gave a shout-out to Ricky Rimmer-Bey. “I’ve been out for 4 years; I have over 10-15 guys calling me, texting me, I keep money on my phone.  These guys are not animals, not who Kym Worthy say that they are, they need to be freed. I hope this movement continues to grow!”

March around Courthouse and Wayne County Jail 

The Old Wayne County Jail (Div. 2).

Darrell Ewing said he and fellow residents of Wayne County Jail enthusiastically watched march outside. Ewing and co-defendant Derrico Searcy are scheduled for hearing Mon. June 21, at 9 a.m. in front of Judge Williams-Clayborne.

WAYNE CO. JAIL RESIDENTS SAY MANY SICK, DYING WITH COVID-19; MDOC PRISONERS SAY LARGE NUMBERS TOO | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

KEITH PORTER:

Mother Patricia Shelton, sister speak

Tearra Dodson, sister of Darrell Ewing

Shawn Searcy told VOD that Tearra organized the production of beautiful banners and fliers depicting the faces of the wrongfully convicted who have contacted Operation Liberation.

To contact Operation Liberation,

call 586-943-8780

 

VOTE KYM WORTHY OUT!

Victoria Burton-Harris ran vs. Kym Worthy in 2020.

Nicholas Buckingham of Michigan Liberation addressed last year’s election battle. They strongly supported Kym Worthy’s opponent Victoria Burton-Harris, who won a resounding 40 percent of the vote, giving hope to ongoing struggles.

Burton Harris is now the top assistant prosecutor in the office of Eli Savit, Washtenaw County, one of numerous “progressive prosecutors” who have taken office across the country. They advocate comprehensive reforms to the criminal justice system, including release of hundreds of people framed up by corrupt police and prosecutors.

WAYNE CO. PROSECUTOR KYM WORTHY MUST GO! VOTE FOR VICTORIA BURTON-HARRIS AUG. 4 IN DEM. PRIMARY | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

EDWARD SANDERS, juvenile lifer, legal mentor

VOD editor Diane Bukowski covered Edward Sanders’ case extensively for the Michigan Citizen starting in 2004, then for VOD:  Wayne Co. has the highest proportion of juvenile lifers in Michigan and the U.S.; the U.S. Supreme Court vacated their sentences in 2012 and 2016, but 150 remain left behind. Sanders helped organize rally in Jan. 2021 demanding release of juvenile lifers.

150 MICHIGAN JUVENILE LIFERS FACE POSSIBLE DEATH FROM COVID-19 AS THEY SERVE OUTLAWED SENTENCES | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

DOES KYM WORTHY WANT 54 MICH. JUVENILE LIFERS TO DIE IN PRISON, VIOLATING U.S. SUPREME COURT ORDERS? | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

C. Little, bound over to adult court as juvenile

TAMERA WASHINGTON: sister K. Stokes

Family of Tamera Washington turned out in force June 4, 2021.

“Women–Black women–are the fastest growing population in MDOC, housed only at Huron Valley under horrible conditions.” –Nicholas Buckingham, Michigan Liberation

Operation: Free Tamera!  Convicted of assault, armed robbery in 2002, serving 32-5o yrs. her mother and grandmother have died; sister’s grandchildren love their aunt and want her home.

Deborah Smith, mother of LARRY SMITH

Family of CLARENCE CLARK

Family members say Clarence Clark (MDOC misspells it ‘Clerence’ on OTIS) has been in prison serving 15-30 years for armed robbery. “He does not deserve to be in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.” 

JASON BOWERS: Fiancee Alicia Garcia speaks 

Family members of Jason Bowers

Family of MELVIN HOBBS

Brother of KEVIN HARRINGTON; he also served time 

Crystal Smith mother of JESSE AGNEW

Grandmother of JAMES ALLEN JONES

Sherelle Hogan Pure Heart Foundation

Do your job Kym Worthy

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Voice of Detroit is a pro bono newspaper, which now is devoting itself entirely to coverage of stories related to our PRISON NATION and POLICE STATE.

VOD’s editors and reporters, most of whom live on fixed incomes or are incarcerated, are not paid for their work. Ongoing costs include quarterly web charges of $380, P.O. box fee of $150/yr. and costs for research including court records, and internet fees, as well as office supplies, gas, etc.

Please DONATE TO VOD at:

https://www.gofundme.com/donate-to-vod

This Sept. 10, 1971 file photo shows inmates of Attica State Prison as they raise their hands in clenched fist salutes to voice their demands during a negotiating session with New York’s prison Commissioner Russell Oswald. AP File Photo

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MICH. LIFERS VARGAS & MARCO JOHNSON FIGHT 30-YR. FRAME-UP; CITE INKSTER COP FROM 2 EXONEREES’ CASE

Brothers Vargas and Marco Johnson say Inkster Police Det. Gregory Hill, involved in the 2002 wrongful convictions of  George Clark and Kevin Harrington (video above) elicited false witness statements in their case.

“Every case these officers was involved in needs to be reopened. . .we need to start right here, right now.”–Kevin Harrington

Johnson brothers have been in prison for 30 years although witnesses recanted, said Hill had threatened them.

Ferrell

Report by Nat’l Registry of Exonerations:  Gov’t. misconduct involved in 54% of exoneree cases, 78% of murder cases involving Black defendants

By Ricardo Ferrell, VOD Field Editor   

With Diane Bukowski, VOD editor

Marco (l) and Vargas (r) Johnson

In a homicide dating back thirty years, evidence has surfaced which calls into question the convictions of two brothers from Inkster, Michigan, who are serving life without the possibility of parole in the 1991 murder of Corey Smith.

Vargas Johnson, 50, and his younger brother Marco Johnson, 48, say they have been sitting inside Michigan prisons based largely on the coerced and concocted lies of witnesses who have recanted in court beginning in 1995, and in sworn affidavits since.

Anthony Lee, Brian Day, and Anthony Brown claim Inkster Police Detective Gregory Hill (deceased in 2016), the lead detective on the case, obtained their false statements and testimony, by threatening to charge them also if they did not cooperate.

The National Registry of Exonerations issued a report in Sept. 2020 which found that misconduct by police and prosecutors was involved in the wrongful convictions of 54 percent of exonerees, and 78 percent of Black defendants in murder conviction cases. (See link and summary below story.)

Hill’s name surfaced earlier during  investigations into the cases of Kevin Harrington and George Clark, who were exonerated of the murder of Michael Martin, and released after 17 years in  2020.

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court found under Brady v. Maryland that the Wayne County prosecutor’s office had suppressed a  statement by Hill’s step-daughter Kaneka Jackson that could have cleared the two men.

She said she told Hill that she  witnessed the murder of Michael Martin, and that neither Harrington nor Clark were involved.

“Jackson’s stepfather, Gregory Hill, was a detective with the Inkster Police Department,” the National Registry of Exonerations reported on Clark’s case. “Jackson wrote, ‘after I explained everything in detail to my father, he told me to keep my mouth closed, and don’t mention what I saw to anybody, because he would take care of the situation and he did not want me placing my life in danger.”

Police and government officials are required under Brady to submit all “exculpatory” evidence including such statements to the defense.

The chief prosecution witness additionally recanted her testimony against Harrington and Clark, swearing that Inkster detective Anthony Abdallah, a close associate of Hill’s, had threatened to have Child Protective Services take her children if she did not implicate the two men.

In the Fox 2 News video at top, Harrington said, Every case these officers was involved in needs to be reopened. If we’re going to be transparent about the criminal justice system, we need to start right here, right now.”

Vargas Johnson described the history of his and his brother’s case in a detailed report with documents sent to VOD. He cited first a 1994 Michigan Court of Appeals ruling. The COA remanded the case to the trial judge, 3rd Judicial Circuit Court Judge Wendy Baxter, now retired, for a Ginther evidentiary hearing. It cited “tainted identification evidence,” including Brown’s testimony at the preliminary exam that Hill showed him mug shot photos of the two defendants to obtain an identification.

Three years later, Brian Day testified before Baxter at the Ginther hearing in 1995 that the testimony he gave at trial was false and that he was high on cocaine at the time of his testimony, and that he was threatened by Det. Hill,

After Baxter denied the Browns’ motion for relief, the three witnesses later executed written affidavits stating that their testimony at trial was false and obtained under threats from Hill. Brian Day executed his on Nov. 23, 2005. (Excerpt below).

See the full affidavit at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Affidavit-of-Brian-Day.pdf.

The second witness at the Ginther hearing was to have been Anthony Brown, regarding the mug shots shown to him by Hill.  Hill told Judge Baxter that he could not locate Brown, because he was on drugs and likely homeless. But Brown has since executed a written affidavit stating the following:

Full affidavit at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Affidavit-of-Anthony-Brown-in-M-and-V-Johnson-case2.pdf..”

Full affidavit at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Affidavit-of-Anthony-Lee-re-M-and-V-Johnson-case3.pdf.

Vargas Johnson said he does not blame the three men who testified against him, but puts the guilt on the Inkster Police Department and prosecutors.

“Who knew what they were facing while they were being questioned by Detective Gregory Hill?” he remarked. “How could anyone have known? One thing for certain, in those moments alone with an officer seasoned at his craft, fear and his power over you become the clearest things you know.”

Niecola (Klima) Johnson, wife of Vargas Johnson/Facebook

Vargas’ wife Niecola Johnson decried what she says  is a miscarriage of justice.

“I haven’t been able to get a good night’s sleep knowing my husband is locked away in a cage like an animal for something he did not do,” Ms. Johnson (Klima) said.

“When we first decided to get married I told Vargas I’d always stand by him. I’ve known in my heart that he is innocent and didn’t commit this crime. What kind of system of justice do we have, when it locks someone away for the rest of their life, when evidence points towards them being innocent?

The detective in his case used unsavory tactics to pressure witnesses to falsely accuse Vargas and Marco, or be charged criminally for the same murder they were being interrogated about.  My wish, is that some light will shine on this corruption by Detective Gregory Hill, which unfortunately has led to my husband sitting in prison for the last 30 years for something he unequivocally had nothing to do with.”

The two men and their families say they were told May 11 by Valerie Newman, director of the Wayne County Conviction Integrity Unit,  that the Unit is now reviewing their cases.

(L to R) Ricardo Ferrell, Quentin Jones, and Leroy Washington, are founders of “My Life Matters Too,” which publishes a regular newsletter on prison issues. See:

DO PRISONERS LIVES MATTER? 125 NOW DEAD, HALF IN MICH. DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS INFECTED WITH COVID-19 | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

Editorial comments by VOD field editor Ricardo Ferrell: “Sadly, we see more and more people serving decades upon decades for crimes they were later shown to be innocent of. Since its inception in 2018, the Conviction Integrity Unit has exonerated 29 innocent men, the majority of them young Black men at the time of their arrest. In the City of Detroit and Wayne County, homicide investigators have often used trained ‘snitches’ to help obtain convictions.

Study by National Registry of Exonerations, 2020.

They have relied on jailhouse informants, obtained false confessions, tampered with evidence, and threatened witnesses to give fabricated statements, and false and perjured testimonies. In the cases of Davontae Sanford and Thelonious Searcy,  the actual killer, Vincent Smothers, came forward to testify and provide written affidavits and interviews to heal his conscience.

But corrupt police and overzealous prosecutors have often turned a blind eye, condemning innocent people to years and decades in prison when the truth was known from the beginning.  Even in the case of recently released Raymond Gray, who served almost 50 years for a 1973 murder another man admitted his role in, Gray still remained in prison.

GOVERNMENT MISCONDUCT AND CONVICTING THE INNOCENT: The Role of prosecutors and police and other Law Enforcement.”

The National Registry of Exonerations published a report in Sept. 2020, “Government Misconduct and Convicting the Innocent, the Role of Prosecutors, Police, and Other Law Enforcement.”   (Summary and link below.)
https://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Documents/Government_Misconduct_and_Convicting_the_Innocent.pdf

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Voice of Detroit is a pro bono newspaper. VOD’s editors and reporters, most of whom live on fixed incomes or are incarcerated, are not paid for their work. Ongoing costs include quarterly web charges of $380, P.O. box fee of $150/yr. and costs for research including court records, and internet fees, as well as office supplies, gas, etc.

Please DONATE TO VOD at:

https://www.gofundme.com/donate-to-vod

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RAY GRAY, FREE AFTER NEARLY HALF-CENTURY BEHIND BARS, VOWS TO CONTINUE BATTLE FOR EXONERATION

“The struggle is not over: I’m still going to pursue my innocence.” -Ray Gray

Four-time Golden Gloves champ convicted of  1973 murder of Ruben Bryant at age 21, despite eyewitness and alibi testimony, lack of physical evidence

“He is innocent!”–Private investigator Bill Proctor, former Ch. 7 News anchor, after covering case for 15 years

Ricardo Ferrell, VOD Field Editor

Affidavits from two eyewitnesses identified another man as killer, but WCPO says third eyewitness ID key

Master artist “painted portrait of my godson Amir, as if his face was actually on the canvas”–VOD field editor Ricardo Ferrell

By Ricardo Ferrell, VOD Field Editor

With Editor Diane Bukowski

May 28, 2021

Raymond Gray, 69, leaves Muskegon CF May 25, 2021 after serving 48 years for murder investigators say he did not commit.

DETROIT–Raymond Gray, now 69, walked out of a western Michigan prison in Muskegon May 25, after serving 48 years for the first-degree murder of Ruben Bryant in Detroit in Feb. 1973, a crime he has always sworn he did not commit. Many supporters have vigorously campaigned for his exoneration during the decades since his conviction.

Gray’s attorneys Gabi Silver and Philip Comorski entered into a deal with  Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy and Conviction Integrity Unit director Valerie Newman to allow Gray’s immediate release in exchange for his nolo contendere (no contest) plea to a lesser charge of second-degree murder in the case.

Crying with joy, Barbara Gray (neé Rinehardt), Gray’s  wife of 37 years who is reportedly ill,  and other family members folded Gray into their arms as he left the prison. His wife was an art instructor at Jackson Prison when they met, and has spent her life fighting to free Gray, an acclaimed artist himself. Gray told reporters that he loves his wife “very much,” and that she is the main reason he is now free.

“It’s a dream come true, one of the best days of my life,” Gray said. “But the struggle is not over. I’m still going to pursue my innocence.”

Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy (seated) with Atty. Gabi Silver (l) and CIU head Valerie Newman (r) behind her, during announcement of Richard Phillips’ exoneration in 2018.

In a terse release, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said, “Given the passage of time, the ensuing inability to substantiate the claim of innocence, eyewitness Marie Clark’s trial identification testimony and her recent interview identifying Ray Gray as one of the two robbers, this is not an exoneration.

“However, this case does present many questions that cannot be answered. Looking at the time Mr. Gray has been incarcerated, we agreed to allow Mr. Gray to enter a no contest plea to Second-Degree Murder with a sentence agreement to time served. We wish him well.”

Worthy said the plea means that he “is not admitting guilt but will not contest the charge of the crime. He receives a conviction and accepts punishment from the judge in the case. A no contest plea cannot be used as an admission of liability in a civil case.”

During a virtual hearing on Zoom May 25, Wayne County Third Circuit Court Judge Margaret Van Houten re-sentenced Gray to a term of 25 to 40 years, and ordered him immediately released with time served. Gray was not present until the very end of the hearing, after Judge Van Houten had already stated on the record that she was accepting his voluntary plea.

Newman relayed Clark’s alleged feelings to Judge Van Houten, but did not present a written statement.

Bill Proctor  at 2016 press conference on release of wrongfully-convicted Davontae Sanford.

“[Gray] needs to be recognized as a kind, gentle, talented man who has suffered since February of 1973 for something he had absolutely, positively nothing to do with,” said private investigator and former Channel 7 News reporter Bill Proctor, now with Proctor and Associates, LLC, in an interview with Detroit’s Channel 4 News.

Proctor has spent 15 years researching Gray’s case. He said Gray’s conviction posed some very serious questions surrounding the 1973 homicide, including misconduct by “government officials.” Gray and the one of the killers, now deceased, each had “Fu Manchu” mustaches, but Gray was the only man in the police line-up who had facial hair, Proctor said.

Two eyewitnesses including Charlie Matthews and Barbara Jean Hill signed affidavits swearing Gray was not the killer. Hill rented the apartment that two armed robbers broke into and opened the door to them. She identified Matthews as the shooter, but Matthews swore his accomplice was the shooter. Five friends and relatives testified Gray was with them at the time of the killing.

(Listen to Metro Times interview of Proctor on April 7, 2021, below.)

Despite this evidence, Gray still remained behind bars, hoping, praying, crying and pushing and fighting to prove his innocence. He even submitted to a polygraph examination years in 2012, and passed it, yet he remained in a prison cell.

Ray Gray with wife Barbara on his release May 25, 2021.

Earlier this year, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy and Newman stated they couldn’t substantiate Gray’s claim of innocence, but said they would support a commutation request to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Raymond Gray is the perfect example of someone exercising patience, strength, fortitude and faith. He kept holding on to hope, even at times when his plight seemed to be filled with hopelessness and despair. Nevertheless, he found solace in his artistic creativity, by becoming one of the most talented artists to ever pick up a paint brush inside the World’s Largest Walled Prison in Jackson.

That talent led to him meeting his amazing wife Barbara (nee Rinehardt) Gray, who was previously an MDOC art instructor. She has remained in Gray’s corner, relentlessly and tirelessly fighting non-stop to get her beloved husband freed.

One of countless paintings by Ray Gray appears to show its subject gazing at the sky and freedom while buried underground.

Ricardo Ferrell: Special thanks to Gray’s attorneys Gabi Silver, Phillip Comorski, Bill Proctor, other advocates, and Ellis Stafford, deputy director of Detroit’s Crime Commission who was also convinced that Gray didn’t commit the crime, and believed in his innocence, as well as family, friends and the many supporters who pushed to:

Free Ray Gray.

See 2015 article by reporter Fred Rosen detailing the Gray case: Ray Gray: 43 Years and Counting for a Murder He Didn’t Commit (the-line-up.com)

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