HISTORY OF A MOVEMENT: THE DETROIT COALITION AGAINST POLICE BRUTALITY; FORUM SAT. NOV. 4


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ALONG WITH ARNETTA GRABLE AND HERMAN VALLERY, THE PARENTS OF LAMAR GRABLE (now deceased), VOD Editor Diane Bukowski helped lead the Detroit Coalition against Police Brutality from 1996-99 through 2016. Other leaders, now deceased, included Cornell Squires, Sr. and Ron Scott. Many other family members of those killed by police, with long-time activists like Aneb Kgositsile (Gloria House), Marge Parsons and Tijuana Morris at their side, played vital roles in this historic Coalition.

At April 28, 2015 rally for Terrance Kellom, 19, executed by ICE and Detroit police earlier that month, members of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality: (l to r) Lamar Grable, Jr. with his mother Arnetta Grable Jr., Butch Carrington, Arnetta Grable Sr., Herman Vallery, and Cornell Squires.

The Coalition also worked with the National October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation. It was strongly supported by the Michigan Citizen newspaper (ceased publication in 2014) with dozens of militant articles. 

Diane Bukowski will also address issues regarding wrongful convictions, mass incarceration, and the Michigan prison system, currently a chief focus of the Voice of Detroit newspaper, which Bukowski founded in 2010.

Family members, attorneys, and other supporters of the three men killed by Serial Killer Kop Eugene Brown from 1996-99 gathered outside the office of Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy to demand that charges be filed against Brown. They had just won the disclosure of the Shoulders Report,  by an internal DPD task force. that called for charges to be brought against him. Worthy refused to do so. He later retired after having a college degree paid for by the City of Detroit.

The Voice of Detroit has continued to follow police killings of Detroiters in particular, since its inception in 2010 after the Michigan Citizen fired Bukowski. Put the names in the photo collage below in VOD’s search engine to bring up dozens of stories published since 2010, notably VOD’s unparalleled coverage of the police murder of Aiyana Jones, 7, in 2010.

(L) The family of Aiyana Jones demanded “Justice for the Jones’: Aiyana and father Charles Jones, during a 2012 protest at FMHJ. (R) Aiyana’s grandmother the late Mertilla Jones (holding Aiyana’s photo) spearheaded the family’s fightback against the DPD and biased media coverage. At Arnetta Grable’s invitation, Ms. Jones joined the Oct. 22 Coalition with her.

The mainstream media engaged in a shameful “blame-the-victim” campaign against Aiyana Jones’ family. VOD was the ONLY newspaper to cover each and every hearing in the case in detail, in dozens of stories on the trials of killer kop Joseph  Weekley, and of Aiyana’s father Charles Jones and Chauncey Jones, as well as every aspect of the case.

See summary of each case at: http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/DETROITERS-KILLED-BY-POLICE-1992-2020-merged.pdf.

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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. Funds are needed regularly to pay quarterly web hosting fee of $460.00 and other expenses. VOD will disappear from the web if fee not paid.

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 $460.00, P.O. box fee of $180/yr. and other costs including utility and internet bills, 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

 Cash App at (313) 825-6126

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NEW: DPS COP SAW 2009 MURDER IN EWING, SEARCY CASE; JUDGE REMOVES DARRELL EWING’S CUFFS, DENIES BOND



(L to R) Darrell Ewing, Derrico Searcy nod to supporters at July 6 hearing. Provided by family.

Darrell Ewing, Derrico Searcy in court Oct. 10, 12 for separate pre-trial motion hearings, 4 yrs. after courts ordered new trial in 2019

WCCC Judge Kiefer Cox denies Ewing’s motion  for pre-trial bond,  which cited People v Reginald Lamarr Davis.pdf : bond granted if the proof of the defendants’ guilt is NOT ‘evident or the presumption great.’

Granted: Ewing’s motions to remove his handcuffs, hire PI and ID expert, provide discovery on many items 

Granted: Searcy motion for suppression of  ID procedure by Raymond Love, due to no lawyer at line-ups, unreliability; prosecution conceded 

Ewing cites suppressions of : statement from Detroit schools officer who saw 2009 killing of  J.B. Watson; Tyree Washington’s 2010 statement to police admitting to murder, assault of J.B. Watson et al., noted in prosecution brief

Next hearings: Darrell Ewing Dec. 1, 2023 at 1:30 PM for remainder of his motions, Derrico Searcy motion hearing Jan. 4, 2024 asking for suppression of Jendayi Love testimony,  and Feb. 21-23, 2024  for evidentiary hearing on shell casings allegedly planted on Searcy’s car at the time of arrest

Trial set for both March 25, 2024, pending action on motions to dismiss all charges

By Diane Bukowski

October 20, 2023

Updated Oct. 24 2023 with corrections, including fact that Judge Thomas Hathaway dismissed Thelonious Searcy’s murder conviction in similar case WITH PREJUDICE, after granting pre-trial bond.

To supporters of those whose cases are being covered in VOD: Please DONATE TO VOD to keep the newspaper publishing! https://www.gofundme.com/donate-to-vod Cash App $MDianeBukowski 

Contact info redacted

Above: Darrell Ewing reports stunning new evidence from discovery files that  Detroit Public Schools officer Anthony Reed witnessed and reported the murder of J.B. Watson on Detroit’s east side 12/9/2009.  Reed specified that h saw a “green Aurora” involved in the shooting, and left his contact information. Ewing said this is the first the defense knew of this witness. This would be the only police officer witness to the actual crime. In confessing to this crime to the Michigan State Police, Tyree Washington said he and William Beal were in a “turquoise Aurora” when the murder was carried out. WCCC Judge Kiefer Cox ordered the prosecution to follow up using the contact information of the reporting entity. See: http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Tyree-Washington-MSP.pdf

WCCC Judge Kiefer Cox prepares for hearing Oct. 10, 2023.

DETROIT– The 13-year battle by east-side Detroiters Darrell Ewing and Derrico Searcy against their alleged wrongful convictions in the 2009 murder/assault of J.B. Watson and others moved forward slowly but surely during separate pre-trial motion hearings Oct. 10 and Oct. 12.

Ewing entered court without the handcuffs both defendants wore at their last hearing July 6. WCCC Judge Kiefer Cox had had granted his motion to allow him to represent himself by freely accessing three boxes of legal research and making his own notes during the hearings. Ewing is assisted by his stand-by attorney Christopher Sinclair. Cox did not order Searcy freed from his handcuffs during his own brief hearing Oct. 12. Ewing told VOD he has filed a lawsuit to overturn the procedure for all defendants.

Searcy is represented by Neighborhood Defender Services attorney Blase Kearney. Although their hearings were conducted separately, Judge Cox denied Ewing’s motion for separate trials which cited their individual concerns in the case.

Darrell Ewing, acting pro se, enters court, not handcuffed, with boxes of  research. A paralegal graduate of the Blackstone Institute, he assists others with their cases.

Separate hearings are further scheduled for Ewing on Dec. 10 to address the remainder of 3o motions he filed, and Feb. 23, 2024 for Searcy’s evidentiary hearing on shell casings allegedly planted in his vehicle at the time of his arrest.

JUDGE COX DENIES EWING’S MOTION FOR PRE-TRIAL BOND

Ewing filed a motion for pre-trial bond, citing “binding precedent” in the case of People v Reginald Lamarr Davis.pdfIn Davis, the Michigan Supreme Court ordered the Appeals Court to “remand the case to the trial court to assess whether ‘the proof of [the defendant’s guilt is evident or the presumption great’ for purposes of MCL 765.5.'” or in the alternative to “address whether the trial court abused its discretion by granting the defendant’s request for pretrial release,” MCR 6.106(H)(1).

Davis had been charged with first-degree murder. He was acquitted after a jury trial and the charge was dismissed on Nov. 30, 2022.

Judge M. Hathaway

“Binding case law says that defendant is entitled to a bond when the presumption of guilt is not great or evident. . . .In this case it’s clearly not great or evident,” Ewing argued.

He cited the repeated confessions of Tyree Washington to the murder and assault of J.B. Watson, attested to by others, WCCC Judge Michael Hathaway’s 2019 finding that “The trial evidence in this case was “certainly not what we would call overwhelming,” and the lie detector test he took for the DPD and passed in 2010. Ewing said he would submit to a tether to monitor his activities.

The witness Judge Hathaway referred to above was Raymond Love.

But Judge Cox denied the motion. “The Court finds that a remand bond is appropriate , the circumstances will not be changed so the motion for bond reduction will not be granted. I may or may not remand considering the charges in this case, and the fact that the court does have a concern for public safety if Mr. Ewing is released.” Ewing said he will file an interlocutory appeal, citing Judge Cox’s failure to include findings of fact in his ruling.

(L) WCCC Judge Thomas Hathaway; (R) Thelonious Shawn Searcy

Bond granted in similar case in 2021

WCCC Judge Thomas Hathaway granted a pre-trial release bond for Thelonious Searcy, (a brother of Derrico Searcy), in a case also covered by VOD. Hathaway has since dismissed the first-degree murder case with prejudice, citing particularly blatant prosecutorial misconduct. This means the charges CANNOT be re-instated. See http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Thelonious-Searcy-Order-Gg-Defs-Mtn-to-Dismiss-10.3.20223311-3.pdf.

The National Registry of Exonerations now lists Searcy as an exoneree, but the prosecutor’s office has appealed Judge Hathaway’s Oct. 3, 2022 ruling, and the case is still tied up in the appellate courts. This has so far prevented Searcy from filing motions for compensation under WICA (Michigan’s act on wrongful convictions), or in the federal court.

Prosecution brief filed with Mich. Sup. Ct. cites undisclosed “2010 statement” by Tyree Washington admitting guilt and exculpating defendant in the case. 

Ewing also reported during the Oct. 10 hearing that  a prosecution brief on Searcy’s motion, filed with the Michigan Supreme Court Jan. 27, 2023,  includes a 2010 exculpatory statement by Tyree Washington not disclosed to the defense: “Defendant [was] aware before his original trial in 2010 that Washington had made a statement to law enforcement officers where he admitted to murdering the victim and denied that defendant was involved.”

Ewing said the defense has never received that statement either before or since the 2010 trial and asked the court to have the prosecution produce it.

Washington has repeatedly admitted to the 2009 shooting death of J.B. Watson and assault on others, in multiple affidavits and a videotaped interview with private investigator Scott Lewis. During pre-trial preparation in 2021, the defense discovered that he had also reported this to the Michigan State Police in 2017, but the prosecution still pursues the re-conviction of Ewing and Searcy.

Darrell Ewing Motion to Exclude witness Raymond Love 

MOTIONS TO BAR TESTIMONY OF TRIAL WITNESS RAYMOND LOVE 

Searcy’s evidentiary hearing is to follow up on his motion regarding witness Raymond Love’s ID of him in a photo line-up,  titled, “The Photo Array Identification was impermissibly suggestive, conducted in violation of Mr. Searcy’s right to counsel, and not reliable.” The motion says in part,

“. . .a photographic array procedure cannot be unduly suggestive. United States v. Wade,
388 U.S. 218 (1967). Here, where a photographic array was conducted once already, an arrest had been made based on the previous photographic array, a second photographic array is unduly suggestive. “An in-court identification following an unnecessarily suggestive out-of-court law-enforcement procedure implicates a defendant’s due-process rights because of the involvement of improper state action.” People v Posey, No. 162373, 2023 WL 4873422, at *10 (Mich, July 31, 2023). Full motion at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Derrico-Searcy-motion-to-exclude-id.pdf.

Ewing has also filed a motion to exclude Love’s testimony on separate grounds, which is to be heard December 1. See motion at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Motion-to-Suppress-Raymond-Love-Identification-as-Unduly-Suggestive_Darrell-Ewing8418.pdf

MOTION TO DISQUALIFY ENTIRE WAYNE CO. PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE

Tyree Washington (l) former AP Kam Towns (r). Towns is now with the Michigan Atty. General’s office. Washington said he asked Towns to testify at the Ewing/Searcy trial, but Towns said, “We have who we want.”

Ewing addressed his motion to disqualify the entire Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office for ‘committing fraud on the court’ by repeatedly insisting that “pre-trial” Brady motions had already been addressed by the court, with no record of the court or opinion from the court. “They don’t want the truth of the matter to come out in this case, because they convicted an innocent man,” he said.

Judge Cox denied the motion, saying in part, “Mr. Ewing’s motion [is] saying that a previous member or member of Wayne Co. Pros. Office had animosity towards Mr. Ewing. . . .There is no showing that the Director of Homicide or whoever was handling this matter knew about this at the time she made the statements Mr. Ewing is saying were fraud on the court.” The WCPO Director of Homicide was Kam Towns. Ewing’s former defense attorney Lillian Diallo told the court during a hearing in 2021 that she has represented many young Black men prosecuted by Towns and that typically,  Towns “hit[s] on all [the jury’s] terrors and fears dealing with Black men and gangs.” 

MOTION to MAKE WITNESSES AVAILABLE to DEFENSE FOR INTERVIEWS

Pros. Kym Worthy and former Detroit Police Chief James Craig. /Channel 4 news photo

Never resting in his impassioned battle for exoneration, Darrell Ewing on Oct. 12 filed this motion to enable him, acting as his own attorney, to interview witnesses he plans to call at the trial scheduled for March 2024 (unless the charges are dismissed pursuant to his motion to dismiss, still to be heard Dec. 1.

Under state law, rather than providing contact information for these witnesses, attorneys and pro se defendants can ask the prosecution to make the witnesses available to the defense, Ewing notes.

They  include Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy, fprmer DPD Chief James Craig; DPD Dep. Chief David LeValley; DPD Officer Theophilus Williams; DPS Officer Anthony Reed; FBI Agent Matthew Allen; Christopher Hess; Lori Dillion; Kareem Wheeler; Royce Hall and George Linen, as well as Raymond Love, Willie Williams, Phillip Reed and Larita Thomas pursuant to MCR 6.201(A)(1).

Full motion at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Darrell-Ewing-motion-to-make-witnesses-available.pdf

1995 Oldsmobile Aurora like the one Tyree Washington said he was in during murder of J.B. Watson

Ewing said he wants access to these witnesses because the prosecution claimed not to have  information in response to motions to compel production of requested information, which he addressed Oct. 10. Among others,  these included:

  • What Worthy, Craig, and LeValley did after receiving letters from Tyree Washington admitting to the murder of J.B. Watson, which Washington said he sent to them among other officials.
  • Follow up on DPS Officer Anthony Reed’s eyewitness report that he saw the shooting J.B. Watson and that the car involved was a “green Aurora.”

RELATED:

WRONGLY CONVICTED DARRELL EWING, DERRICO SEARCY: JUSTICE SHACKLED, DELAYED 13 YRS. IN MDOC, WC JAIL | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

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

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

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

https://voiceofdetroit.net/2019/10/27/darrell-ewing-derrico-searcy-win-new-trial-in-murder-case-after-nearly-two-decades/

JUROR IN 2010 EWING/SEARCY MURDER TRIAL: VERDICT TAINTED BY JURY’S “GANG-RELATED” INTERNET RESEARCH | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

https://voiceofdetroit.net/2019/02/14/sixth-circuit-orders-evidentiary-hearing-instead-of-new-trial-in-darrell-ewings-2010-murder-conviction/ 

https://voiceofdetroit.net/2017/11/27/fed-judge-strikes-down-darrell-ewing-conviction-due-to-jury-discussion-of-gang-social-media  

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

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

MERRY XMAS! UP TO 800 WAYNE COUNTY JAIL DETAINEES FREEZING IN BITTER COLD, NO EXTRA BLANKETS, NO VISITS | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

WAYNE CO. JAIL DETAINEES SUE TOP COPS FOR DENYING SPEEDY TRIALS, OPEN COURTS, FAMILY VISITS, RECREATION | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

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

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

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

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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. Funds are needed regularly to pay quarterly web hosting fee of $460.00 and other expenses. VOD will disappear from the web if fee not paid.

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 $460.00, P.O. box fee of $180/yr. and other costs including utility and internet bills, 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

 Cash App at $MDianeBukowski (313) 825-6126

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JAY LOVE, VOD’S DIANE BUKOWSKI TO SPEAK AT OCT. 28 SUMMIT ON WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS, COP IMMUNITY

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GEORGIA COP KILLS EXONEREE LEONARD CURE IN TRAFFIC STOP OCT. 16; OTHER EXONEREES FEAR SUCH A FATE

Leonard Allan Cure, Georgia exoneree killed by police in traffic stop,

Georgia Feds claim Cure reacted against cop’s tasing of him after traffic stop for speeding, was shot to death.

“Dozens of exonerated clients grapple with ‘an overarching fear that at any moment the cops are going to come’ and take them back to jail or prison.”

By Bill Branham

Proving Innocence

https://www.provinginnocence.org/

There is a deep sadness one feels when learning about the death of Lenny Cure. Links to news articles are below. While we do not have all of the facts, those within the wrongful conviction community have a gut feeling about the emotional vulnerability of those who have had years of their lives ripped from them unjustly. We know how emotionally fragile exonerees are. For those who cannot make sense out of a situation that resulted in unexplainable deprivation of their freedom, the mere prospect that such a thing could happen again can produce a terror that few of us can imagine.

Mary Cure, mother of Leonard Cure, at press conference called by Atty. Benjamin Crump

One exoneree told me about panic attacks he had leaving a department store headed for his car with his shopping cart filled with items when suddenly the thought entered his mind “What if they think I’m stealing this shopping cart?” Another told me about sitting in a restaurant feeling like everyone is looking at him, the cashier keeping an eye out in case he tries to leave without paying the bill. Any encounter with law enforcement FOR WHATEVER REASON may make a “normal” person apprehensive. We cannot fathom what a wrongfully convicted person feels.

An AP News reporter said, “Miller, who worked to help Cure win freedom, said he’s seen dozens of exonerated clients grapple with “an overarching fear that at any moment the cops are going to come” and take them back to jail or prison.”

AP News reported later, “The family of Leonard Cure, 53, viewed the dash and body camera video before Camden County Sheriff Jim Proctor’s office posted it online. Relatives said they suspect Cure resisted being arrested because of psychological trauma from spending 16 years imprisoned in Florida for an armed robbery he didn’t commit.

Leonard Cure moments before being shot to death by Camden Co. GA Sheriff.

“I believe there were possibly some issues going on, some mental issues with my brother,” Michael Cure said of his slain brother. “I know him quite well. The officer just triggered him, undoubtedly triggered him. It was excitement met with excitement.”

CNN also reported,  “Cure got out of the vehicle at the deputy’s request, the GBI said, and he ‘complied with the officer’s commands until learning that he was under arrest.’

“Cure was stopped because he was driving at least 90 miles per hour in an area where the speed limit was 70, the New York Times reported, citing a sheriff’s department spokesperson.”

I doubt there is a single person reading this who has not been guilty of this exact same “crime” but today you and I are still able to read this article in the comfort of our homes. Lenny is not.

We do not know what prompted the officer to announce to Mr. Cure that he was under arrest. The media release indicates that things were relatively calm and cooperative up until that point. The officer likely would have had no idea how Lenny would react. Could the officer have deescalated the situation? Of course, he could have. Could he have used other non-lethal means of subduing Lenny? Of course, he could have. Not knowing the facts one should refrain from a blanket condemnation of the officer. But even without the facts, one has a deep, deep sadness that this did not have to happen.

Video below shows police car camera recording of the killing of Leonard Cure by a Georgia sheriff’s deputy. Note that the cop tased Cure non-stop until Cure fought back to end the pain, in self-defense.

Georgia sheriff releases video showing a violent struggle before deputy shoots exonerated man | AP News

https://www.cnn.com/2023/10/17/us/leonard-allan-cure-killed-georgia-traffic-stop/index.html

https://apnews.com/article/deputy-shooting-georgia-exonerated-innocence-project-7a38975dc24aa8112944

https://abcnews.go.com/US/georgia-bodycam-video-released-fatal-police-shooting-leonard-cure/story?id=104100606

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INNOCENTS SAT IN MDOC FOR 4,372 YRS. TOTAL! SAME DIRTY COPS, PROSECUTORS, JUDGES JAILED 1000’S MORE

THESE 55 WAYNE CO. EXONEREES ARE AMONG 84 LISTED ON THE NATIONAL REGISTRY OF EXONERATIONS SINCE 1989. THE 55 HAVE SERVED A TOTAL OF 4,158, PLUS 214 FOR THOSE WITH NO PHOTOS: TOTAL 4,372 YRS. OF THEIR LIVES

Wayne Co. CIU has announced 38 exonerees/vacated convictions, who served 700 yrs. total in prison; Nat’l Registry of Exonerations lists 84 exonerees since 1989, who served 4,382 yrs. total 

What criminal Wayne Co. Judges, Cops, Prosecutors sent 84 innocent individuals to prison?  

NAT’L LIFERS CHAP. 1016 PROJECT–who else is still in prison because of the same criminal injustice system players?  Why hasn’t Pros. Kym Worthy investigated?

EDITOR: The Voice of Detroit is researching these cases, and compiling  lists of the Wayne County criminal injustice officials who sent these innocent people to prison for 4,372 years of their lives. VOD continues to investigate other likely wrongfully convictions and unjust sentences below.

The same cops and prosecutors in the CIU exoneree cases sent these men to prison as well–covered in Part 1 of Mark McCloud series

By Mark McCloud-El  #199143

President—National Lifers of America, Chapter 1016

August 25, 2023 — Part Two

Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy (front) with Atty. Gabi Silver (l) and CIU head Valerie Newman (r) announce the Unit’s first exoneration, of Richard Phillips, after 45 years.

“The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office is directly responsible for sending these innocent men and women to prison. Yet they want credit for freeing these men. Well, this is like the arsonist setting the fire—then calling the Fire Department and trying to take credit for calling the Fire Department.” (VOD NOTE: ARTICLE BELOW COVERS WAYNE CO. CIU CASES, which resulted in 700 years of prison time for innocent individuals.)

Kinross, MI –  In 2017, the Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy officially announced that she would be opening a unit within her office to look into wrongful convictions. That unit would be called—The Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU).

Of course, no one truly believed that there would actually be men and women, wrongfully convicted. And if by chance there were men and women wrongfully convicted—it surely would be one or two.

Exoneree Thelonious ‘Shawn’ Searcy, then a newlywed, was arrested in 2004 in front of his wife and toddler daughters. He is shown (l) in 2022 with (l to r) his daughters Paige Braxton and Shyra Searcy, wife Tyria Searcy, and his grandchildren (mother Paige.)

Well, after five and a half years, in Wayne County alone, there have been THIRTY EIGHT (38) men exonerated for crimes they did not commit! And these INNOCENT men have served a combined SEVEN HUNDRED YEARS IN PRISON FOR CRIMES THEY DID NOT COMMIT!

On average, each innocent man served approximately twenty years in prison. That’s twenty years—they did not get to spend with their mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters. Twenty years—they did not get to raise their children or to even have children. Twenty years—they did not get to marry and travel the world. Twenty years—they did not get to start careers and make something of themselves. But in reality, most of these men have served much more than twenty years in prison for crimes they did not commit.

As bad as those FACTS are, there is an even greater tragedy. NOT ONE SINGLE OFFICIAL who played a role in sending these innocent men to prison has even been reprimanded in any way. NOT A SINGLE JUDGE, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, ASSISTANT PROSECUTOR, DETECTIVE, OFFICER IN CHARGE, BALLISTIC EXPERT, DNA EXPERT—NO ONE!!

Carl Hubbard’s actual innocence appeal is  pending at US 6th Circuit court after 31 years. Judge Richard Hathaway, Wayne Co. Pros. Kym Worthy and AP James Gonzalez, and Detroit cops Joann Kinney and Ronald Gale, pictured above, based Hubbard’s conviction on the testimony of a witness that Hubbard was present near the scene. The witness recanted at trial, and has repeatedly recanted since. Hathaway and Kinney now work in Kym Worthy’s WCPO.

The corrupt and illegal misconduct by the Detroit Police has been nothing short of Criminal! NO ONE HAS BEEN CHARGED. In the Desmond Ricks case, for instance, the homicide detective—Donald Stawiasz and Ballistic Expert – David Pauch switched out the bullets and lied under oath, which led to Mr. Desmond Ricks’ wrongful conviction. Neither Detroit police officer was charged. Mr. Ricks spent 25 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.

In the Marvin Cotton and Anthony Legion exonerations, Detroit homicide Sgt. Walter Bates supplied all the details of a coerced confession in the case to Ellis Frazier, Jr., a well-known jailhouse snitch, who had never met Mr. Cotton in the jail.

Before Frazier Jr.’s appearance at trial, Bates showed the jailhouse snitch a picture of Mr. Cotton, and told the jailhouse snitch where Mr. Cotton would be sitting in court so  jailhouse snitch Frazier could make an accurate in-court identification. Mr. Cotton and Mr. Legion spent 21 years in prison for a crime they did not commit. Again, the Detroit police were not charged.

Paralegal Roberto Guzman with Sherena Cotton, mother of exoneree Marvin Cotton, in 2015. Guzman worked on Cotton’s appeals.

The Officer-In-Charge of the Cotton/Legion case was Donald Hughes. According to a lawsuit filed against Hughes, Walter Bates, and Detroit cops Ernest Wilson and Santonin Adams, Hughes recruited a witness that he knew had not seen the killers in the case, to lie and testify that they “looked like” Legion and a third co-defendant. Charges against the third co-defendant were dropped after he provided a definite alibi, but not until after Cotton and Legion were convicted, to prevent him from testifying at their trial.

“Hughes also knew Lockhart’s identification was fabricated because Lockhart had previously never identified anyone as the shooter(s) and Lockhart’s story was contradicted by the physical evidence at the scene,” says the lawsuit. “Hughes wanted both Plaintiffs arrested because he believed they were neighborhood thugs who robbed ‘dope boys.’

Marvin Cotton (l) Anthony Legion (r).

Additionally, Hughes, Bates and Wilson, all veteran homicide detectives, wanted Cotton arrested and jailed because he had earlier filed several complaints with DPD Internal Affairs relating to a handgun that had been stolen from naked and handcuffed in his shower. Internal Affairs later charged the officers with several violations. . .”

Read entire lawsuit at:  http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Cotton_et_al_v_Hughes_et_al__miedce-22-10037__0001.0-1-with-info-on-Donald-Hughes.pdf  

Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in her release on the Cotton/Legion cases that the OIC was responsible for the wrongful convictions, but did not identify him by name. Hughes’ name did not surface until after the suit was filed.

Danny Burton with the grandkids born during his 32 years of wrongful incarceration. Photo: Fox2 News screenshot.

In the case of exoneree Danny Burton, Detroit police homicide detective Ronald Sanders locked a 14-year-old witness in a closet and kept her there even after she urinated on herself. The judge in the Burton case barred another witness’ confession from evidence because it came out the Sanders had kicked the witness in the groin and locked the witness in a room until he confessed. And again, the Detroit police officer was not charged with a single crime.

From Lying Under Oath, to Planting Evidence, to Brutally Beating False Confessions out of suspects, illegally Holding Witnesses without warrant until the witness said what wanted the detective wanted the witness to said, to Withholding Exculpatory Evidence, Switching Bullets to frame innocent people. Threatening to take Witness’s Children, Telling Witnesses Who to Pick Out of Lineups, Falsifying Ballistics Evidence, Falsifying DNA Evidence, and much more. Again, no Detroit Police Officer has been charged with a single crime as it relates to the known 38 exonerees!

COPS IN WILLIE MERRIWEATHER CASE ALSO FRAMED EXONEREES DWIGHT LOVE, DANNY BURTON

But let’s now forget the Prosecutors and Judges. As corrupt as the Detroit police and homicide detectives’ illegal conduct was and still is, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and Judges want the public to think that they simply did not know about any of this illegal and corrupt behavior. UNIMAGINABLE!

The same police agency—the Detroit Police Department, and the same officers whose names keep appearing in the exonerees’ case, Homicide Sgt. Walter Bates, Homicide Sgt. Ernest Wilson, Homicide Detective Donald Stawiasz, Ballistics Expert David Pauch, Homicide Det. Monica Childs, Homicide Investigator William Rice, Homicide Investigator Kevin Reed, Officer Dale Collins, Officer Donald Hughes, Officer Ronald Sanders, and many more Detroit police officers’ names keep appearing.

Stawiasz and Sanders were the chief architects of the conviction of Willie Merriweather. Its horrifying history, including systematic witness beatings and deliberate frame-ups, and the use of a co-defendant witness who went on to become a career member of the Wayne County Jail “Ring of Snitches” in the 90’s, is detailed in the VOD story linked below.

And the same Prosecutor’s Office and Court presided over every exoneree’s corrupt conviction – the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and the Third Judicial Circuit Court are in the same building—which is located directly across the street from the original Detroit police headquarters. However, the Prosecutor’s office and Judges want the public to think they did not know about any of the Detroit police corrupt and illegal behavior. UNBELIEVABLE!

Exoneree Mubarez Ahmed, with attorney Wolfgang Mueller announcing his lawsuit, which won a $9.9 million settlement from the City of Detroit. Ernest Wilson was a chief player in the Ahmed conviction, directly coaching a witness to identify him in a line-up.

Atty. Wolfgang Mueller, who has represented eight wrongfully convicted  Detroit area residents, “. . .and estimates there could be as many as 2,000 Michigan inmates who were put behind bars on wrongful convictions.”

He went on to say, “. . .part of the solution is lifting qualified immunity for police.” DO AWAY WITH IMMUNITY FOR OFFICERS AND PROSECUTORS.” (See Detroit News article, Sept. 15, 2020, titled “Official Misconduct to Blame in Bevy of Wrongful Convictions.”

AND YET, THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF MEN STILL IN PRISON BASED ON THE CREDIBILITY AND INVESTIGATIONS OF THESE CORRUPT DETROIT POLICE!! Something must be done to free these men!

RELATED STORIES:

HUNDREDS OF MEN, SERVING LIFE SENTENCES ON THE CREDIBILITY OF CORRUPT DETROIT POLICE DETECTIVES! | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

DETROIT COPS WHO FRAMED WILLIE MERRIWEATHER IN 1987 INVOLVED IN MULTIPLE WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

LIFER CARL HUBBARD’S “ACTUAL INNOCENCE” APPEAL AT U.S. 6TH CC AFTER 31 YRS.; CLAIMS DPD, PROS. FRAME-UP | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

MUBAREZ AHMED WINS $9.95 M FOR WRONGFUL DETROIT CONVICTION; BAD COPS, PROSECUTORS NOT CHARGED | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

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URGENT: Voice of Detroit is a pro bono newspaper, now devoting itself entirely to stories related to our PRISON  NATION and POLICE STATE. Funds urgently need to keep VOD going.

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 $460.00, P.O. box fee of $240/yr. and other costs including utility and internet bills, costs for research including court records and internet fees, office supplies, gas, etc.

Please DONATE TO VOD at:

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CASH APP 313-825-6126 MDianeBukowski

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IN SPITE OF THE CONSEQUENCES: PRISON LETTERS ON EXONERATION, ABOLITION & FREEDOM/LACINO HAMILTON

Editor Diane Bukowski absolutely recommends this book by Detroit’s own Lacino Hamilton to all our readers, to the millions of people and their loves ones caught up in the U. S. criminal injustice system, and all those across the U.S. and the world who are  fighting to end it. The U.S. has five percent of the world’s population, but 25 percent of its incarcerated population. Hamilton’s book is a stunning expose of the consequences of mass incarceration, authored as Hamilton prevailed under the most severe conditions meant to break the spirits of those behind the walls. The scholarship and intellect behind this book put Hamilton on a par with writers like George Jackson of the Soledad Brothers. To purchase a copy of Hamilton’s book and support his continuing battle against mass incarceration, go to:  In Spite of the Consequences: Prison Letters on Exoneration, Abolition, and Freedom

(By Broadleaf Books).

Falsely convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison, Lacino Hamilton sent thousands of letters during his incarceration. After twenty-six years, including eleven years in solitary confinement, and a years-long campaign of public and political pressure, Hamilton was exonerated and released on September 30, 2020.

Paralegal Travis Herndon (l) and Ramon Ward (r) welcomed Lacino Hamilton (center) home from prison in 2021 after his exoneration. Hamilton and Ward each spent decades in prison, framed up by Detroit police and Wayne County prosecutors using the infamous “Ring of Snitches” in the 1990’s.

The letters he wrote during his incarceration, advocating for his innocence–literally writing for his life–made him a leading voice on issues of abolition, imprisonment, and justice. Despite fierce resistance and retaliation from prison officials, he maintained correspondence with family and friends, as well as university professors and activists. Tireless, empathetic, and unflinching, Hamilton’s voice throughout these letters shines with immediacy.

We must engage all people in recognizing the terrible costs of maintaining the US system of justice, he writes. In his passionate critiques of the prison-industrial complex, his emotional appeals to friends and family, and his fierce and unflagging defense of his own innocence, Hamilton exposes the oppressive, humiliating, and destructive reality of our justice system.

From divestment in cities and policing policies to the everyday violence of imprisonment and its attempts to obliterate personhood in favor of obedience, these letters offer an incisive critique of our criminal justice system. We also feel Hamilton’s deep generosity of spirit as he counsels others affected by this terrible system and lauds the work of those working on the outside for reform. With his voice, we sense something unexpected and profound: hope for a reimagining of our systems–a humanity-affirming model of justice. 

RELATED STORIES:

‘RING OF SNITCHES’ VICTIMS: LACINO HAMILTON CLEARED, FREED AFTER 26 YRS; CONVICTIONS TOSSED ON 2 MORE | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

AS 31ST EXONERATION ANNOUNCED, WAYNE COUNTY, ASST. PROSECUTORS, DETROIT COPS FACE FEDERAL LAWSUITS | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

Articles by Lacino Hamilton’s Profile | AlterNet, Truthout, The New Inquiry Journalist | Muck Rack

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VOD is a pro bono newspaper, now devoting itself entirely to stories related to our PRISON NATION and POLICE STATE. We are ALWAYS in need of funds to keep VOD on-line and publishing. VOD has 13 years of stories that remain only while our quarterly web-hosting fees  continue to be paid.

VOD’s editors and reporters, most of whom live on fixed incomes or are incarcerated, are not paid for their work. In addition to the quarterly web hosting charge every 3 months of $465.00, other expenses include a P.O. box fee of $226.00/yr., costs including utility and internet bills, costs for research including court records and internet fees, office supplies, gas, etc.

Please DONATE TO VOD at:

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CASH APP 313-825-6126 MDianeBukowski

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INTERNATIONAL WRONGFUL CONVICTION DAY MON. OCT. 2 — JAY LOVE RETURNS TO AIR @ 8:30 pm

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WRONGLY CONVICTED, ALPHONSO CLARK JR. LOST MOM BEFORE RELEASE; PUBLISHES BOOK ON GRIEF IN PRISON


The Value of Family: Overcoming the Grief of Losing a Loved One While in Prison eBook : Clark Jr., Alphonso, Hinds, Robert T. , Bond LMSW, Florine: Amazon.in: Kindle Store

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

By Diane Bukowski, VOD Editor

Sept. 5, 2023

Alphonso Clark, Jr. at meeting with VOD July, 2023.

Finally home after 17 years of wrongful incarceration, Alphonso Clark, Jr. credits the support of his family in particular with providing the strength and love he needed to survive those grueling years.

“My family supported me wholeheartedly, they never wavered, never doubted what I said, believed in me a hundred percent, and did everything they could to help me,” Clark told VOD.  “My mother took it the hardest out of everyone. When my family would visit, it was bittersweet, because she would cry every time on leaving, a mother losing her son all over again.”

Clark said Tonya Deanette Lindsey Clark, his mother, died of stage four cancer Jan. 11, 2022,  only months after she was first diagnosed. He said handling her illness and death while incarcerated was overwhelming.

“Honestly, you just hope and pray a miracle happens,  but when it didn’t happen, it was devastating, the mental trauma—being incarcerated on top of losing the one that gave birth to you,” Clark explained. “I was so lost I didn’t know what to do. It was hard just getting out of my bunk and facing the next day. Basically, I had to flip the switch to being positive, and staying out of trouble. If I was bitter, I would never have gotten up out of there.”

He added that he took self-improvement classes in prison and worked as a recreation referee. “That helped me grow as a man, because I had to deal with personalities and flared tempers. The reps get flak, get cussed out, etc. But I learned how to let it slide.”,

Robert T. Hines, co-author “The Value of Family”

Out of their shared experiences, Clark and Robert T. Hinds, who met while in prison, have co-authored, “The Value of Family,” an anthology of self-accounts and interviews with many others who have lost their loved ones while isolated behind bars from the world outside. Hinds himself is fighting his own wrongful conviction, to the extent that he is focused on proving his innocence, rather than his status as a juvenile lifer. Hinds has published numerous other books as well. (See MDOC CHIPPEWA INMATES RAISE AWARENESS ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH, ESPECIALLY IN PRISONS | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought)

The ad on Amazon’s website says the book “is a powerful and heartfelt anthology that delves into the experiences of incarcerated men who have faced the profound challenge of losing a loved one while behind bars . . . Within these pages, their stories of grief, pain, and resilience come to life, offering an intimate exploration of the human spirit and the transformative power of family connections.”

Alphonso Clark, Jr. (in red) with (l to r) exonerees George Clark and Kevin Harrington, and Alphonso Clark, Sr.

Clark also credits many others with aiding the overturning of his wrongful conviction,  including fellow Inkster residents Kevin Harrington and George Clark. The two were exonerated in 2020 after the exposure of criminal practices endemic in the Inkster Police Department at the time of their arrests and convictions.

“Harrington played a big role,” Clark said. “He tracked down witnesses, reached people I needed to reach — it was a team effort for real.”

Clark said to get the ball rolling, he hired private investigator Vicki Yost (formerly a long-time high-ranking Detroit police officer, and Chief of the Inkster Police Department).

He said Yost uncovered a lot of information about the Inkster cop involved in his wrongful conviction, Anthony DelGreco. She then set up an interview with Wayne County Conviction Integrity Unit director Valerie Newman, who assigned attorney Leana Belcher to his case.

Since his release, Clark has started his own trucking company, and a media company called Manifested Thoughts that will sponsor the release of his book.

ALPHONSO CLARK, JR.’S WRONGFUL CONVICTION

According to the National Registry of Exonerations (NRE), former Inkster Police Detective Anthony DelGreco was a chief architect of Clark’s wrongful conviction. DelGreco is also cited in the cases of two other Inkster men fighting what alleged wrongful convictions, David McKinney and Robin Emmanuel Hammock.

Hammock’s appeal led earlier to a ground-breaking ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court which said affidavits and testimony including those in prison should be treated as any other legitimate evidence.

Judge Daniel Ryan and Asst. Wayne Co. Prosecutor (name) also played roles in Clark’s case, allowing hearsay testimony over the objection of the defense, and a false depiction of Medical Examiner testimony in closing arguments.

Clark was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Gregory Marshall, 43, outside his home in Inkster, Michigan on June 17, 2005.

Marshall lived with his mother Berdia Marshall and brother Terence Jones. Terence Jones and Kimberly Jones (no relation) saw the shooting from the porch. Jones told his mother to call 911 and tell the dispatcher that Clark had shot Marshall, who was laying in the street. Her 911 call was later admitted at trial for the jury to hear over the objections of Clark’s attorney Raymond Burkett, who said it was only hearsay. But Wayne Co. Circuit Court Judge Daniel Ryan allowed it.  Clark said the tape of the call left the jurors in tears.

During its investigation in 2020, the the CIU interviewed Terence Jones, who recanted his trial testimony. He said that he did not see the shooter’s face and did not believe that Clark shot and killed Marshall. His mother’s 911 call was based on his original allegations.

“Neither Kevin Long, who was in front of an apartment building cater-corner to the Marshall house, nor Kimberly Jones could identify the shooter, but both told police that it wasn’t Clark, whom they knew, because the shooter was much taller,” says the NRE report. Other accounts from the report are cited in part below.  Full report at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Alphonso-Clark-National-Registry-of-Exonerations.pdf

Earlier, Anthony DelGreco received award from then Inkster Mayor Hilliard Hampton.

“Kimberly Jones would testify that Terence Jones’s account of the shooting was ‘ridiculous.’ She testified that she could not see the shooter’s face, but the man was taller than Clark, who was 5 feet 8 inches tall.

Lucresha Baker testified for the defense, as did Clark’s girl-friend at the time, Aleshia Hunter.  Baker lived four houses down from the shooting and witnessed it on her way home. She said she knew both Clark and Marshall, and that Clark was not the shooter. She said she tried to tell the Inkster police what she saw, but they would not take her statement.

Hunter said Clark spent the night with her prior to the shooting and was wearing the same clothes when he left the next morning, the day of the shooting, clothes later examined by the Michigan State Police.

“Long had also been prepared to testify, but he told Clark’s attorney, Raymond Burkett, that Detective Anthony DelGreco of the Inkster Police Department had threatened to arrest him if he testified. The attorney told the trial judge. DelGreco denied intimidating Long. Both Long and another man who testified at trial  later signed affidavits about DelGreco’s intimidation of witnesses on appeal.

DelGreco also testified that he submitted Clark’s clothing for testing by the Michigan State Police crime lab for evidence of blood, gunpowder, or gunpowder residue. The crime lab found no blood evidence and never performed testing for gunpowder or its residue. The gun used in the shooting was never found.

WCCC Judge Daniel Ryan

Dr. Scott Somerset, a medical examiner, testified about Marshall’s gunshot wounds. “These wounds, I numbered them just for descriptive purposes. Gunshot wound number one does not mean it was the first one. I don’t know what order these occurred. So gunshot wound number one, I arbitrarily labeled gunshot wound number one was on the left back.”

During closing arguments, the prosecutor told the jury that Kimberly Jones’s testimony should be discounted. The prosecutor continued even after a defense objection to his depiction was upheld by Judge Daniel Ryan.

“I want you to remember the testimony of the medical examiner,” told the jury. “I want you to remember how the first shot was in the back. I want you to remember how the medical examiner told you when people are shot like this, the body can fill up with blood. That’s how he died, that’s what the medical examiner testified.”

WCCC Judge Bridget Hathaway

On April 20, 2023, the CIU and attorney Leanna Belcher submitted a joint motion asking the court to vacate Clark’s conviction and dismiss his charges. The motion said, “In addition to Mr. Jones’ admissions that his trial testimony was inaccurate, the CIU discovered other credible evidence that supported that Mr. Clark was not the shooter.” The filing did not describe that new evidence.

Judge Bridget Hathaway of Wayne County Circuit Court granted the motion that day. Clark was released from prison, and his charges were dismissed. At the hearing, Clark thanked his family, Belcher, the staff of the CIU, and others for their help and support. He offered his condolences to the Marshall family and said he hoped they could get justice in Gregory Marshall’s death.

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URGENT. Funds  needed for quarterly web hosting charge of $465.00 by Sept. 19, 2023 or VOD and 13 years of its stories will be taken off the web.  VOD 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. In addition to quarterly web hosting charge. other expenses include P.O. box fee of $226.00/yr., costs including utility and internet bills, 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

CASH APP 313-825-6126 MDianeBukowski

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RALLY FOR CATEGORICAL CLEMENCY FOR MICHIGAN PRISONERS AT STATE CAPITOL SEPT. 30, 2023 3-5 PM

CHANGE, CLEMENCY AND A SECOND LOOK!

State and national campaign challenging mass incarceration continues

By Ricardo Ferrell

VOD Field Editor

September 2, 2023 

Ricardo Ferrell

Ricardo Ferrell, VOD’s Field Editor, proudly announces that the Michael Thompson Clemency Project is inviting families, friends and supporters to the upcoming: ‘Freedom and Justice for All’ rally to be held on Saturday, September 30th, 2023 from 3-5pm, on the steps of the State’s Capitol Building in downtown Lansing.

Anyone who wish to attend can do so free of charge. There will be an open mic for those wishing to briefly tell the stories of their incarcerated loved ones who they believe warrant being considered to have their sentences commuted through the clemency process by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Let your voices be heard LOUD and CLEAR!!!

The time is now! Call for Freedom and Justice for All of our incarcerated men & women in Michigan who lives have been impacted by mass incarceration within the carceral system. This is the hour where we’re calling on our governor to utilize her clemency power.

(L to r) Washtenaw County Prosecutor Eli Savit, retired Oregon Governor Kate Brown, Michael Thompson, founder of Michael Thompson Clemency Project, and moderator Hill Harper (now a candidate for U.S. Senator (D-MI)  at Lansing forum advocating clemency by category for Michigan prisoners April 17, 2023

In the State of Oregon, former Governor Kate Brown got it right by granting clemency to well over 1,100 people in her state. Gov. Brown is quoted in a previous VOD article stating, “I absolutely believe that the criminal justice system in the U.S. is built on the back of Black and Brown people, and… that the single most powerful tool governors have to embed justice in the system – is the clemency power.” — Kate Brown, retired Governor of Oregon

In a Related Effort:

Alexandra Bailey, Senior Campaign Strategist for the Sentencing Project, Washington, D.C.

The Sentencing Project in Washington, DC is pushing its Second Look Legislation Campaign in Michigan with the help and ingenuity of the phenomenal Alexandra Bailey. Ms. Bailey recognized the dire need for Michigan to take criminal justice reform seriously. So, she has devoted a great deal of her time working towards that end. The many thousands of men & women locked down in our state truly do owe an enormous debt of gratitude for the tireless work that Ms. Bailey and the Sentencing Project have put in and continue to put in on a daily basis. This is the climate for Change, Clemency and A Second Look!!!

Related stories:

SECOND CHANCES FOR MICHIGAN LIFERS! MOVEMENT GAINS STEAM AS RE-SENTENCING ACT INTRODUCED | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

MICHAEL THOMPSON CP, ACLU, U-M PROJECT CALL FOR MASS CATEGORICAL CLEMENCY FOR MICHIGAN PRISONERS | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

MICHIGAN HAS SENTENCED MORE KIDS TO DIE IN PRISON THAN ANY OTHER STATE AND IN THE REST OF THE WORLD | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

HUNDREDS OF MEN, SERVING LIFE SENTENCES ON THE CREDIBILITY OF CORRUPT DETROIT POLICE DETECTIVES! | VOICE OF DETROIT: The city’s independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought

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EFRÉN PAREDES, JR: MICH. COURTS CURB MINORS’ DEATH IN PRISON SENTENCES, BUT COA AFFIRMS HIS 2ND LWOP

Above: Efrén Paredes, Jr. speaks from prison during annual Dr. Martin Luther King Day forum in Detroit, Michigan

State Court of Appeals upholds second re-sentencing of juvenile lifer, long-time advocate/scholar Efrén Paredes, Jr. to LWOP  on July 23, 2023

Shocking 4-page ruling cites unconstitutional STG designation, life of Paredes’s child as reasons; re-iterates original charges brought by notoriously racist Berrien County Courts

Atty. Stuart Friedman is appealing to Mich. Supreme Court, will provide details in upcoming brief

Ruling stuns thousands of Paredes supporters across the U.S.

 

EDITOR: The article following this introduction, by juvenile lifer Efrén Paredes, Jr. first appeared in Against the Current.  We are re-publishing it now because on July 27, 2023 the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld Berrien County Judge Charles LaSata’s second ruling condemning Efrén Paredes, Jr. to death in prison.

The COA originally remanded the case to LaSata with the understanding that he would re-sentence Paredes to a term of years under U.S. Supreme Court rulings in Miller v. Alabama and Montgomery v. Louisiana, as then recommended by the prosecutor’s office. Michael Sepic, the original prosecutor on the case, retained control of the case despite his retirement in 2021. He reportedly promised the victim’s family during the first trial that Paredes would never see the light of day again.

The COA ruling affirming death in prison for Paredes is only four pages. It alleges Paredes belonged to a “security threat group” in prison and that he “impregnated” his wife with their child on prison premises.

It reiterates the original trial allegations against Paredes, that he was a gang leader and the actual shooter of the store-owner who was killed.

Paredes, his attorneys and supporters like Paul Condino, former chief investigative advisor for Northwestern University Law School’s Center on Wrongful Convictions have long disputed those charges.

“There is not one shred of credible evidence to suggest that Efren was involved in the murder,” Condino said. “No weapon, no eyewitnesses, no physical evidence, no motive, no prior conduct to suggest that a 15-year-old student athlete, and honor roll student with zero criminal background, would have planned, participated in or committed this murder. The community and jury were sold a bill of goods based on the words of drug dealers and thieves.”

The COA ruling has stunned thousands of Paredes’ supporters across the U.S. Paredes was 15 years old at the time of his original conviction and sentence and has had a long and illustrious history in prison as an advocate-activist and scholar.

Paredes’ attorney Stuart Friedman told VOD he is appealing the ruling to the Michigan Supreme Court and will provide more details once his appellate brief is completed in the coming weeks.

VOD will publish a story with analysis of the July 23 ruling and its implications at that time. The ruling is at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Efren-Parades-COA-affirming-LWOP-7-27-23.pdf.

Michigan Appellate Courts Curb Death in Prison Sentences for Minors – Against the Current.

BY EFRÉN PAREDES, JR.

(Efrén Paredes, Jr. is Co-Chair of the Michigan Poor People’s Campaign. He is also a social justice changemaker who works at the intersection of decarceration, racial justice, and conflict resolution. You can read more of his writings or listen to his interviews by visiting http://fb.com/Free.Efren.)

Rally in Lansing, Michigan 2021

A decade after the U.S. Supreme Court banned mandatory life without parole (LWOP) sentences for justice-involved children under age 18 (“juvenile lifers”), Michigan appellate courts are course-correcting years of arbitrary sentencing outcomes which have been an affront to the rule of law.

LWOP sentences are often referred to as  “death in prison” or “death by incarceration” sentences because a person who receives the extreme punishment is condemned to die in prison unless her/his sentence is commuted by the Governor which is unlikely to occur in most cases.

In multiple rulings during December 2022 the Michigan Court of Appeals and Michigan Supreme Court (MSC) vacated the LWOP sentences of ten juvenile lifers and remanded them back to the trial court for resentencing.

Juvenile lifer Robert Taylor

The MSC rulings stated in relevant part: “A court may not impose a sentence of life without parole on a defendant who was under 18 years of age at the time of his crime unless the prosecution has overcome its burden to rebut the presumption, BY CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE, that life without parole is a disproportionate sentence.” (emphasis in original text)

The MSC’s “clear and convincing evidence” statement is a reference to a precedent-setting decision it issued in the summer of 2022 in the case of People v. Robert Taylor[1]  ______________________________Taylor was re-sentenced to LWOP a third time in March, 2023 because the Supreme Court remanded his case to the COA for determination on a separate issue, that of “aiding and abetting.” The COA ruled that a juvenile could be sentenced to LWOP on that issue, and sent it back to the trial court for re-sentencing. But it left open several issues saying  only the Supreme Court could decide on them. _____________________________________________________________

The number of minors resentenced to LWOP in Michigan continues to decline as trial court judges overwhelmingly reject death in prison sentences. It is also declining because the small percentage of extreme sentences that are imposed by sentencing bodies are being vacated by appellate courts.

U.S. SUPREME COURT STEPS IN

In 2012 the U.S. Supreme Court banned mandatory LWOP sentences for minors under age 18 in its landmark Miller v. Alabama ruling. [2] The court reached its conclusion based on a robust body of social sciences and neurodevelopmental research which confirm that the human brain doesn’t fully develop until the mid-20’s and people’s character and identity formation continues to change throughout their lives.

Researchers have found that the areas of the adolescent brain that are underdeveloped are responsible for impulse control, problem solving, resisting peer-pressure, and conducting a cost-benefit analysis of risky behavior.

Teenagers focus on short-term consequences. They also lack the cognitive and psychosocial development to accurately predict future outcomes. Individually or collectively these traits can lead to engaging in criminal misdeeds.

In reaching its decision the U.S. Supreme Court replaced the mandatory component of sentencing children convicted of homicide crimes with a discretionary option. The change provides sentencing bodies discretion to impose term-of-year or LWOP sentences.
Term-of-year sentences allow people to be released one day if they are able to survive decades of incarceration.

The U.S. Supreme Court made it emphatically clear, however, that only minors who are “irreparably corrupt” (i.e., forever incapable of change and rehabilitation for the remainder of their lives) are candidates to receive a death in prison sentence. Any child who demonstrates the capacity for change and rehabilitation must be sentenced to a term of years.

It would be four more years before the U.S. Supreme Court would make the Miller ruling retroactive in 2016 in the case of Montgomery v. Louisiana, [3] making it applicable to all cases including those which had previously exhausted their direct appeals.

WHAT THE NUMBERS SHOW

Families and supporters of juvenile lifers flooded the State Capitol to lobby for bills that would have made them eligible for parole even before the US Supreme Court ruling in Miller v. Alabama in 2012. Photo May 6, 2009. Wayne Co. Pros. Kym Worthy and the prosecutors from Oakland and Berrien Counties spoke against the bills, which were defeated.

Since 2016 when juvenile lifer resentencing hearings began, 287 of the total 363 Michigan juvenile lifers have received term-of-year sentences. The minimum sentence allowed ranges from a substantial 25 to 40 years. The maximum portion of the sentence is a mandatory 60 years (e.g., 25-60 years, 30-60 years, 40-60 years, etc.).

The average term-of-year sentence received has been 32.5 years and the average person has been nearly 45-years-old at the time of resentencing.

Seventy-six people still await having their LWOP sentences reviewed for resentencing consideration. There are also currently 11 remaining Michigan juvenile lifers originally sentenced to death in prison who received the sentence for a second time after their cases were considered for resentencing.

The latter individuals await an appeals court to vacate their sentences so they can be properly resentenced for a third time to a term of years.

Despite 79% of Michigan juvenile lifers who committed crimes between ages 14-17 being resentenced thus far Michigan has the shameful distinction of leading the nation as the state with the highest number of minors sentenced to LWOP.

A VIEW FROM THE INSIDE

JUVENILE LIFERS FROM WAYNE CO. STILL HELD IN 2021. VOD IS FOLLOWING UP ON THEIR STATUS. Wayne Co. Pros. Kym Worthy refused to recommend re-sentencings to terms of years for all.

As a soon to be 50-year-old juvenile lifer who has been incarcerated in Michigan since age 15 I’ve observed the enormous capacity for transformative change and rehabilitation incarcerated people possess. I know this not only through the prism of my own lived experiences as a husband and parent, but also through my personal interactions with thousands of other incarcerated people during the nearly 34 years I have spent behind bars.

Whether it’s successfully completing self-help or rehabilitative educational, vocational, or counseling programs during their time caged in carceral exile, juvenile lifers are constantly evolving. Some more than others, and some quicker than others.

During times they struggle with their transformation it often occurs when they lack support, connection with the outside world, and/or struggle to find purpose and hope amid recurring thoughts of being condemned to breathe their last gasp of air alone behind prison walls.

Some of their beliefs have been reinforced by the painful reality that since 2012 seven juvenile lifers have died in prison while awaiting the opportunity to be released. Two of them died after being resentenced to a term of years.

Sentencing minors to death in prison is divorced from the reality that people can and do change. No adult is the same person they were in their teenage years. According to Mihailis E. Diamantis, author of the article, “Limiting Identity in Criminal Law:”
“Identity development never ceases: the persons adolescents will become are not the persons they will remain. The process of self-identification and redefinition lasts a lifetime.” [4]

I’ve come to learn it’s important not to define people by a single event in the spectrum of life — neither by their worst mistake nor greatest success. Human beings are a culmination of their lived experiences. It makes more sense to measure people by the totality of their choices and experiences rather than a snapshot in time.

THE LIVES OF FREED JUVENILE LIFERS: 1% RECIDIVISM RATE 

Five months ago the MSC stated, “A steady line of precedent from the Supreme Court could not be clearer — persons under 18, as a group, are less culpable than adults, more prone to outside influence, and more likely to be rehabilitated. For these reasons and others, juveniles are ‘less deserving of the most severe punishments.'” [5]

Chart shows races of juvenile lifers in Michigan, counties where they were convicted. Wayne Co. far outstripped the rest.

When we examine the lives of the 172 juvenile lifers who have been released from prison their recidivism rate ranks the lowest of any demographic released from Michigan prison at less than 1%. The national recidivism rate for all people released from prison is 68%. [6]

According to Preston Shipp, Senior Policy Counsel at the Campaign for Fair Sentencing of Youth, “Nationwide, 935 formerly life-sentenced children and counting have been released back to society based on changes in the law.” He adds, “They are now home, thriving, raising families, working, mentoring at-risk youth, and finding creative, imaginative ways to serve their communities.”

This can be attributed not only to their capacity for change and rehabilitation, but also to the fact that in each instance it is the first time they will be afforded the opportunity to experience freedom for the first time in their adult lives.

They acknowledge the mercy bestowed upon them. They also bear the emotional and psychological scars of spending decades of their lives condemned to die in prison. To eschew returning to this horrific life they commit to becoming a better version of themselves by making prosocial choices and striving to become thoughtful, sound consequential thinkers.

Former juvenile lifer Edward Sanders earned his B.A. in prison, then an M.S. after release. He has worked as a paralegal since then.

A 2022 report titled, “White Paper on the Science of Late Adolescence: A Guide for Judges, Attorneys, and Policy Makers,” found “[i]t is currently not possible to reliably predict an individual adolescent’s future developmental trajectory based upon current presentation and past history.” Additionally, “It is also currently scientifically impossible to reliably predict how much or how quickly an individual will change with age based on their presumed brain development, history, or current behavioral profiles.” [7]

Juvenile lifers have repeatedly proven this research to be true. They have demonstrated they can change and do better if afforded the opportunity, even when sentencing courts originally misjudge them and make erroneous predictions that they will be forever irredeemable.

DISPARATE CONSEQUENCES OF EXTREME YOUTH SENTENCES

Twenty-five states across the country and the District of Columbia have banned death in prison sentences for justice-involved children. Nine other states have no one serving the sentence who was convicted as a minor. [8] This leaves Michigan among the 16 outliers who still impose the sentences.

Glaring racial sentencing disparities also exist between children of color and their white counterparts.

Prior to the landmark 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling banning mandatory LWOP sentences for minors, though children of color comprised 27% of the child population in Michigan they were 71% of the children sentenced to death-by-incarceration. [9] Since that time eleven of the new juvenile lifers sentenced to LWOP in Michigan — or 73% — have been children of color, reflecting no regard for decreasing racial sentencing disparities.

As a directly impacted person of color I know this all too well. As of December 29, 2022 I am the only Latino of the 11 remaining juvenile lifers resentenced to death in prison in Michigan who awaits being resentenced to a term of years.

Discriminatory sentences for similarly situated people violate the Equal Protection Clauses of the Michigan and U.S. Constitutions [10] and offend internationally recognized human rights treaties. Racialized harms committed by the criminal legal system against people of color are also largely responsible for fueling the scourge of mass incarceration.

A two-tiered legal system produces inequitable results by othering members of out-groups from marginalized and underserved communities.

“The only surefire way to eliminate racial bias and arbitrariness in [Miller v. Alabama] sentencing is for states to … eliminate life without parole for children[,]” according to Kathryn E. Miller, Clinical Assistant Professor of Law at Cardozo Law School. [11]

RECOGNIZING CHILDREN AREN’T ADULTS

On July 28, 2022 the MSC issued a ruling in People v. Parks, Docket No. 162086, which raised the age of minors entitled to the protections afforded in Miller v. Alabama to include persons 18 years of age. The high court is also asking the Michigan Court of Appeals to consider whether the state should raise the age to include late-adolescents up to 21-years-old which is widely supported by evolving brain science. [12]

The recent move by the MSC is an indicator that the high court is breaking away from decades-old beliefs about human evolution and making decisions informed by a dearth of evidence-based, twenty-first century scientific results.

Children receive a panoply of legal protections because society widely recognizes they are too developmentally immature to make the same responsible decisions as adults (e.g., purchase alcohol, vote, join the military, etc.). Their protections shouldn’t abruptly end when they make irresponsible mistakes.

THE U.S. IS THE ONLY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD THAT SENTENCES CHILDREN TO DEATH IN PRISON.

It is a universally recognized unmistakable fact that children are not adults. They are also a product of their environment they are typically unable to extricate themselves from no matter how pernicious it may be to them.

In the interest of public safety children rightly deserve to be held accountable for the harm they commit. However, the penalty should be proportional and developmentally aligned to their diminished culpability and still unformed character.

The criminal legal system should never treat minors as though they are miniature adults nor should children be subjected to the harshest punishments adult offenders are eligible to receive.

FORWARD-THINKING CONSIDERATIONS

Weaponizing public fear to demonize children and justify harsh sentencing policies has proven to be an ineffective approach to deter people from committing crime. This is especially true as it relates to young people.

Society should invest more money and resources dealing with the root of the crime problem than on its symptoms if we are serious about preventing harm. Investments in education and community-based programs such as counseling, mentorships, and after-school programs provide far greater preventive measures against crime the earlier they are made available than the threat of warehousing bodies in cages.

President Barack Obama speaking on Trayvon Martin case.

In a 2017 Harvard Law Review article President Barack Obama wrote:
“How we treat citizens who make mistakes (even serious mistakes), pay their debt to society, and deserve a second chance reflects who we are as a people and reveals a lot about our character and commitment to our founding principles. … [It] speaks to who we are as a society and is a statement about our values — about our dedication to fairness, equality, and justice, and about how to protect our families and communities from harm, heal after loss and trauma, and lift back up those among us who have earned a chance at redemption.” [13]

We would do well to meet this moment by utilizing the wisdom of President Obama as a torch to lead us out of a benighted era of extreme sentencing policies against justice-involved children into an enlightened era that recognizes “youth matters in sentencing.” [14]

Archaic policies that eternally banish people to cages for youthful mistakes or bad behavior are antithetical to decency and human dignity. Promoting justice for minors means choosing life-affirming options like healing and restoration over destructive forces like hate and vengeance.

Kuntrell Jackson and Evan Miller, the plaintiffs in Miller v. Alabama, were each 14 at the time of conviction. Paredes was 15.

The U.S. Supreme Court made it clear that only minors who demonstrate they are irreparably corrupt (i.e., forever incapable of change and rehabilitation) are candidates to receive death in prison sentences. However, asking sentencing judges to predict who is forever incapable of change and rehabilitation is an impossible task, as stated earlier.

Rather than ask sentencing bodies to engage in conjecture that will yield capricious results I invite the Michigan legislature to abolish death behind bars sentences for justice-involved children and join the majority of U.S. states which have replaced it with term-of-year sentencing options.

This humane policy change will provide minors with a meaningful, realistic, and achievable opportunity for release consideration later in their adult lives based on demonstrated change and rehabilitation. It’s a common sense approach to justice for children that acknowledges all stakeholders in the legal process by creating space for both accountability and the possibility of redemption.

Most importantly it promotes equity, a hallmark of our criminal legal system we should strive to uphold each day.

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