Others recently released due to false convictions in Wayne County: Davontae Sanford, Lamarr Monson, Thomas and Raymond Highers

More in state prisons with strong innocence claims include Charles Lewis, Michael Harris, Darrell Ewing

Charles Lewis’ next hearing in front of Judge Qiana Lillard Wed. Feb. 15, 2017, @ 9 a.m. Rm. 502, Frank Murphy Hall, Gratiot/St. Antoine

Where is the federal investigation of Detroit Police and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy requested after Sanford’s release?

By Diane Bukowski

February 10, 2017

Young’s family members joyfully embrace after ruling: Daughter Kenyetta Moore, niece Hontell Rogers, brother Braxter Young, and others. Photo: VOD

DETROIT – Bernard Young, 58, incarcerated for the last 27 years in Michigan’s prisons, joyously embraced family members on his release from Lakeland Correctional Facility after a judge vacated his sentence on six counts of molesting two young boys in 1988. He had been serving a term of 60-100 years.

Third Judicial Circuit Court Judge Qiana Lillard ordered Young released on $5000 personal bond pending a new trial June 5 after his accusers recanted several years ago. One testified on his behalf during a court hearing last September.

His legal team also produced evidence withheld by Detroit police that the two boys, 5 and 6, identified their stepfather William Clark as the real perpetrator long before Young’s conviction in 1989.

“I’m his baby brother, we’re the last of the brothers in our family,” said Braxter Young, weeping after the court hearing. He and other family members jumped for joy in the courtroom after Judge Lillard announced that Young would go free that afternoon, then drove out to the Lakeland Correctional Facility in Coldwater, Michigan to accompany him home.

For a heart-stopping moment, Assistant Prosecutor Abigail McIntyre had demanded that Young be sent instead to Wayne County Jail to be fitted with a tether pending a new trial June 5, as his family celebrated outside the courtroom, but Judge Lillard denied her request on resuming the bench.

Bernard Young’s family packs courtroom. Photo: VOD

“Why can’t they do the right thing, and seek justice, not just get convictions all the time?” asked Young’s attorney Solomon Radner, of Excolo Law, after the hearing. He cited the recent releases of falsely convicted Michigan men including Davontae Sanford, freed June 9, 2016 after nine years in prison, Lamarr Monson, granted a new trial in January for the murder of a 12-year-old girl after spending 20 years in prison, and Raymond and Thomas Highers, freed in Aug. 2012 after serving 25 years for murder.

Davontae Sanford

Lamarr Monson

Thomas and Raymond Highers

In Sanford’s case, Detroit police reports submitted the day after the infamous 2007 Runyon Street killings of four people indicated that eyewitnesses, including a woman who hid under the bed in the house, and a neighbor, said that the killer was taller and older than Sanford, 14 at the time. Hitman Vincent Smothers confessed to the killings shortly after Sanford was sentenced to 37 to 90 years in 2009. The DPD reports, available to Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, did not come to light until the Michigan State Police undertook their own investigation of Smothers’ hits.

Solomon Radner, Young’s attorney

In Young’s case, said Radner, a report from a police child abuse specialist, Sgt. Shelley Foy, who interviewed the boys in May, 1989, said “Clark did very horrible things to the boys.” That report was included in a package of documents obtained by Michigan’s Innocence Clinic and forwarded to Young. The Innocence Clinic had withdrawn from his case due to an unspecified conflict of interest, but Young’s sister Rhonda Holman contacted Claudia Whitman of the nonprofit National Capital Crime Assistance Network (NCCAN) for help. (Website at

Whitman said she contacted the complainants and got written affidavits from them recanting their identifications of Young. One, Thomas Tadlock, testified about Young’s innocence in court in September, 2016. He is seen in the video below.

Tadlock, who was six at the time, said “I was scared of William Clark, that he was going to kill me and my family and abused me for years, and he hurt us. Why? Because he said he would.”

Tadlock said he knew that Young, who had moved from his neighborhood before the cited abuse, had never touched him.

Claudia Whitman of NCCAN

The Detroit Free Press reported that Whitman also discovered that Clark had been charged with molesting the boys two months after Young was sentenced. Clark, who has since died, pled guilty to reduced charges, and got three years’ probation. The Free Press said the same assistant prosecutor, Kelly Ramsey, handled both Young’s case and Clark’s case, but said during last September’s hearing that did she did not remember whether the boys accused Clark before Young’s trial.

During the hearing, Assistant Prosecutor Abigail McIntyre said Worthy’s office would go forward with a new trial, and would appeal Lillard’s ruling setting him free. They are also appealing Lillard’s decision not to require a tether.

Judge Lillard denied McIntyre’s request for a stay without discussion, saying the prosecutor’s office could still obtain one on appeal.

Radner had argued for the bond, saying Young had only four to five tickets during his 27 years of incarceration, none of them for violent offenses. He said there is little likelihood of flight, since Young has a well-established family support system in Detroit. He added that Young had been before the parole board earlier and was given a chance at freedom if he confessed, but he refused to do so, insisting on his innocence.

Young’s sister and brother, Rhonda Holman and Baxter Young, are interviewed by Bill Proctor of the Swift Justice Initiative. 

She acknowledged allegations that one of the victims had been threatened into recanting, and refused to come to Michigan from Florida to testify with his brother, but said the prosecution has time to investigate before the new trial.

“I note the length of time that Mr. Young has been in custody, and I assume he would not have had an easy time in prison due to the nature of the offenses,” Lillard said. “But he has had no sexual misconduct offenses in prison, one complaining witness has already taken the stand and completely recanted, although another did not want to testify. I reject the defense’s claim of actual innocence, but feel that the likelihood of conviction is not great. It would be a disservice for Mr. Young to remain in prison.”

After Sanford’s release in June, 2016, the Detroit News commented in an editorial,

“[T]he Sanford case lends credence to other allegations of bungled justice against the prosecutor’s office. The University of Michigan’s Innocence Clinic has a fat file of cases in which it believes Wayne County and Detroit cops either ignored evidence of innocence or distorted evidence to prove guilt. [State Attorney General Bill] Schuette should review all those cases as well. Finally, if Sanford’s wrongful conviction is an indicator of wider problems in the Detroit Police Department and Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, this is fertile ground for a civil rights investigation by the federal Justice Department.”

The need for such an investigation is even greater now. Other Michigan prisoners with strong innocence cases remain behind bars, including Charles Lewis, Michael Harris, and Darrell Ewing.

Charles Lewis


Lewis, 57, will appear again in front of Judge Lillard Wed. Feb. 15 at 9 a.m. as part of a series of hearings related to the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings in Miller v. Alabama (2012) and Montgomery v. Louisiana (2016) that juvenile life without parole is unconstitutional. 

His court-appointed attorney Valerie Newman of the State Appellate Defenders’ Office will formally withdraw from his case during that hearing. 

Lewis’ case file was completely lost, causing him to file a motion to dismiss his case based on U.S. Supreme Court and other legal precedents. Instead,  Lillard ordered it reconstructed. Lewis has objected to the validity of that order, and to Lillard’s order to have Newman turn over the files he gave her as a violation of attorney-client privilege. He and his family strongly contend that he is innocent of the killing of an off-duty Detroit police officer in 1976.

In a recent letter to Newman, Lewis said in part, “The defendant’s case will present a more complex factual determination that most juvenile cases. . . .This case involves the murder of off-duty officer Gerald Sypitkowski. It also involves two conflicting versions of how one man was killed on July 31, 1976 on the corner of Harper and Barrett Streets. One version is a lie and one version is the truth.

“The three juveniles that testified against the defendant made several different statements to the police. Without the files and records, those statements cannot be evaluated. . .There is a second version of the murder of Gerald Sypitkowski that involves four college students [eyewitnesses], a bouncer for Oty’s Saloon, William Eichman, and the deceased officer’s partner, Dennis Van Fleteren. Dennis Van Fleteren . . . testified that he was talking to Gerald Sypitkowski when a shotgun blast came from the driver’s side of a white Mark IV that struck and killed his partner.”

Michael Harris

The other witnesses in the Van Fleteren version of the killing backed his testimony at two different trials. Neither Lewis nor the three juveniles were seen at the scene by those witnesses. The driver of the Lincoln Mark IV was identified after Van Fleteren took down his license plate number, but released after a brief interview with then Detroit police sergeant Gil Hill.

In one opinion, Judge Deborah Thomas said that Recorders’ Court Judge Joseph Maher’s dismissal of the jury after the first trial in March, 1977, claiming falsely that the defense had called for a mistrial, meant that Lewis should have been acquitted then and never re-tried due to double jeopardy issues.


A DNA test recently proved that Michael Harris, convicted for the rapes and murders of four elderly women in 1981 and 1982 in Lansing, Ann Arbor, and Ypsilanti, was not the perpetrator in first of the series of killings, and in fact identified another man already on the FBI’s database of convicted offenders.  Harris is still in prison after 33 years, and no arrest has been made in the first killing, although prosecutors know where the man is.

Marilyn Jordan of the Detroit Crime Lab Task Force speaks to media before meeting with U.S. Rep. John Conyers June 28, 2011. At right is Task Force co-chair Roberto Guzman.

“I am 100% innocent,” Harris told the Detroit Free Press last year. “I had nothing to do with these crimes. The prosecutions were not about truth. They were about hate, racism and revenge.”

The MSP is now investigating how its crime lab handled all the Harris convictions. But Harris’ release has been stymied by judges and prosecutors in the three counties who have been dealing with his appeals.

During Harris’ time in prison, he and several other prisoners and their families founded the Detroit Crime Lab Task Force, now known as the Detroit Coalition to Free the Wrongfully Convicted. They have fought numerous other cases of false convictions throughout the state. Harris has helped other prisoners in those cases as a jailhouse lawyer. Until his death several years ago, Crime Lab Task Force co-chair Kevin Carey worked tirelessly with Harris to exonerate those wrongfully convicted.

Darrell Ewing


Darrell Ewing, now 28, was sentenced to life in prison in 2009 for first-degree murder.

His mother, LaSonya Dodson, told VOD,  “My son Darrell Ewing has been incarcerated for a crime he did not commit for seven years now. He is serving a life sentence. During his trial the federal government came in with sealed documents stating that a young man by the name of Tyree Washington was in the Macomb County Jail and had told several young men that he committed this crime. He has since then signed a sworn affidavit stating he was the shooter, and indeed neither my son Darrell Ewing nor his co-defendant were there and had any knowledge of the crime. The Michigan State Police are reinvestigating the case.”

Dodson said her son was attending a funeral with her and his family at the time of the murder.

Attorney Byron Pitts, who along with Allison Folmar represented Maryanne Godboldo, is representing Ewing on his appeal. Ewing’s co-defendant is Derrico Searcy. The Michigan Court of Appeals consolidated their cases, and later denied their appeals on various grounds. The Michigan Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the COA decision.

Derrico Searcy

Astoundingly, the COA decision states in part,

“Finally, Ewing asserts that he is entitled to a new trial, or an evidentiary hearing, based on the provision of an affidavit by Tyree Washington, which alleged that Washington ‘commited [sic] the murder of J.B. Watson’ and that Searcy and Ewing were ‘wrongfully charged’ and not present at the crime. Washington contended that the prosecutor in this matter indicated a lack of interest in having him testify at Ewing’s and Searcy’s trial ‘because they had who they wanted.’

“Washington indicated a willingness to waive his ‘Fifth Amendment rights of self incrimination’ and to ‘tak[e] full responsibility and consequences of my actions.’ In this instance, Washington’s assertion that he was the perpetrator of this crime is not newly discovered. Extensive testimony was elicited at trial from Christopher Richardson and LaJoia Stevenson indicating Washington’s assertions of guilt for the death of Watson.

“Defense counsel was informed by the prosecutor that Washington was in federal custody and had implicated himself in this murder. Defense counsel was clearly aware of Washington’s proposed testimony at the time of trial and the information was used, in part, to buttress Ewing’s alibi that he was elsewhere at the time of the homicide. As such, it cannot be construed as newly discovered. People v Rao, 491 Mich 271, 281; 815 NW2d 105 (2012); Terrell, 289 Mich App at 567.

Broken justice system.

“In the circumstances of this case, Washington’s assertion of culpability cannot be construed as newly discovered evidence. Information regarding Washington’s provision of exculpatory information was made available during the trial, and two witnesses even testified regarding his alleged statements. While Washington has now provided an affidavit and indicated a willingness to testify, this evidence is only newly available and, therefore, insufficient to justify the grant of a new trial. Id. at 567.” (See full opinion at

The ruling also refers to a contention by the defendants that one of two Black jurors swore she did not intend to vote “guilty,” after hearing other jurors say they had researched the case on Facebook and elsewhere on the internet. 

As attorney Solomon Radner says in the second video at the top of this story, the judicial system indeed appears to be broken.



Note re: link below: Charles Lewis’ post-conviction hearing in front of Judge Lillard has been re-scheduled to Wed. Feb. 15 at 9am, Rm. 502, FMHJ


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Maryanne Godboldo (center) greets dancers who performed “Testify” at 2011 rally for her at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church; sister Penny Godboldo, head of Marygrove College’s Dance Department, who choreographed the dance, at left. Both sisters, as well as Maryanne’s child Ariana, were trained dancers.

Mother gained world-wide renown for holding off SWAT team to stop harmful drug treatment of her child in 2011

Pros. Kym Worthy: “Godboldo not expected to regain competency . . . to stand trial;” kept appealing despite repeated dismissals of criminal case

Sister Penny: Godboldo’s health crisis hurts family, and “community on a national level . . .She was so vibrant, healthy and intelligent.”

“TESTIFY” for Maryanne: Funds needed for ongoing care; GoFundMe site on webpage

Penny Godboldo comforts child as relatives and friends rally outside 36th District Court after Maryanne’s arrest in 2011.

DETROIT – “This is bittersweet,” Penny Godboldo-Brooks told VOD about the dismissal of numerous felony counts Jan. 31 against her sister Maryanne Godboldo.

“Thank God the legal court proceedings are over, but we should never have had to deal with them in the beginning. The tragedy and travesty is that Maryanne had to sacrifice her health due to the stress. This is a loss not just to our family, but to the community world-wide.”

Godboldo-Brooks said her sister, who suffered a massive brain aneurysm June 15, 2016 on the eve of a third criminal trial, had been helping many families fight state-sponsored child kidnapping and the forced administration of psychotropic drugs. She was also active in the home schooling movement. Godboldo has received numerous awards, including one from the International Citizens Commission on Human Rights in 2012, and another from the Libertarian Party Feb. 4, 2016. Godboldo-Brooks said she is pleased that such organizations are keeping her sister’s memory as she was, and her struggle alive.

On May 24, 2011, Godboldo held off tanks, police helicopters, and cops armed with assault weapons to keep authorities from seizing her daughter Ariana Godboldo-Hakim, then 13. Child Protective Services Worker Mia Wenk, who had no medical training, called in police to force Ariana back on the drug Risperdal, which has dangerous side effects, without a valid court order.

Maryanne Godboldo with photo of her daughter Ariana Godboldo-Hakim on the steps of their homes. Photo: Michigan Chronicle

After the stand-off, Godboldo was arrested and held on eight felony counts, and her daughter was forcibly institutionalized at Hawthorne Hospital in Northville, where she was medicated not only with Risperdal, but three other psychotropic drugs. Godboldo had been weaning her off Risperdal due to its negative effects, as the consent form she signed to put her daughter on the drug allowed her to do. During Ariana’s stay at Hawthorne, a prosthesis she had worn on her leg due to a birth injury was taken away to limit her movement, and the family alleged she had been sexually assaulted as well.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy charged Godboldo with eight assaultive felonies after the stand-off, claiming she had fired a weapon inside her home.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy nearly “persecuted Maryanne Godboldo to death” according to her attorney Allison Folmar.

Thirty-Sixth District Court Judge Ronald Giles and Third Judicial Circuit Court Judge Gregory Bill each dismissed the charges twice. Worthy appealed each time, finally taking it to the Michigan Supreme Court in May, 2016. The court sent it back for trial, which was to begin June 16, 2016, the day after Godboldo’s aneurysm, which nearly killed her.

On Jan. 31, Thirty-Sixth District Court Judge Ronald Giles dismissed the charges for a third time, at the request of defense attorneys Allison Folmar and Byron Pitts, during a highly contentious hearing according to attendees.

“Allison said they argued Maryanne could not defend herself, and that the prosecution finally said if the judge dismissed the case on those grounds, they would not contest it,” Godboldo-Brooks said.

Neither Folmar nor Pitts were available for comment before press time.

“The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office dismissed the charges today because it has been determined that Ms. Godboldo is not expected to gain competency to stand trial,” Maria Miller, spokeswoman for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, said in a statement. She later told VOD that if Godboldo does regain her mental competence, a determination would be made then whether to reinstate the charges, which were dismissed “without prejudice.”

Supporters outside 36th District Court after Judge Giles dismissed criminal charges a second time in 2014: (l to r) Debbie Williams, father Mubarak Hakim, Attorney Allison Folmar, Maryanne Godboldo, Helene Buchanan

“It is premature to speculate at this time,” Miller said. She said Worthy had no comment on whether her continued prosecution of Godboldo contributed to her brain injury.

Folmar said at the time of Godboldo’s aneurysm, “Her blood pressure had been rising and this caused a brain vessel to burst. Five years of court hearings took their toll.”

During those five years, the Godboldos lost their mother Lovey Godboldo, as well as Godboldo-Brooks’ husband Stephen Brooks.

“Maryanne was my strongest confidante after my husband and my mother,” Godboldo-Brooks said. “She is virtually incapable of any of that now. She was so vibrant, healthy and intelligent, and so well read.”

Godboldo-Brooks said she is taking care of her sister’s daughter Ariana now, and also cares for three grandchildren three days a week.

Ariana’s father Mubarak Hakim.

“Ariana has up and down days,” Godboldo-Brooks said. “She misses her mother terribly, but her father Mubarak Hakim has stepped up to the plate and is very much in her life. I have to go see Maryanne virtually every day to ensure she gets taken care of. This is the third nursing home she has been in.”

She said Maryanne is improving, but cannot speak, and that she hopes she hears what she talks to her about every day. She said she sees reactions in her sister’s face. Godboldo-Brooks said she is working with medical personnel to eventually to bring her sister home to care for her there.

Godboldo-Brooks worked at Marygrove College as a tenured faculty member for 35 years, 18 of them spent as chair of the Dance Department and three of them as chair of the Division. She said she recently retired, despite loving her job, due to her family obligations.

Dancers performing “Testify” at rally for Maryanne Godboldo and daughter Ariana Godboldo-Hakim in 2011. Dance choreographed by Penny Godboldo-Brooks.

TESTIFY FOR MARYANNE: Her family remains in serious need of funds for her care. To access GO FUND ME site for her, go to website at

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James Eberheart Jr. (Scrill) at center in back, surrounded by supporters including Call’ Em Out members, at the beginning of his trial Jan. 25, 2017.

Jury took one hour to acquit James Eberheart, Jr. (Scrill) of two counts of “assaulting, resisting and obstructing” Detroit cops 

Jury discredited conflicting testimony of 4 officers, efforts of prosecutor 

Officers testified they would have shot Scrill 

Many generations, including members of Call ‘em Out, packed court  

By Diane Bukowski 

January 28, 2017 

Note correction: Attorney Victoria Burton-Harris was incorrectly identified in portions of an earlier version of this story as Atty. Victoria Burton-Hill. 

Defense attorney Victoria Burton-Harris with client Scrill after not guilty verdict Jan. 27, 2017.

DETROIT – “It’s just an honor to have a jury of my peers come out and show their true power, to find me not guilty, to see everything that really transpired instead of the allegations that the officers who perjured themselves made,” James Eberheart, Jr. (Scrill) told VOD Jan. 27, as jubilant supporters gathered around.

“Just because they are in the uniform of power does not mean they have the power,” he continued. “All of my positive energy will now go out to the people across the nation, and I will continue to be of service to the community. It feels great to walk away without two felonies on my record, which would have stopped my growth in life and my work for Detroit’s children.”

After only one hour of deliberation, a jury with seven Blacks, one Arab-American, and four whites had just found Scrill “not guilty” of two felony counts of “assaulting, resisting and obstructing” Detroit police officers Katrina Duplessis and James Cook. The charges arose from a New Era Detroit (NED) community event on Detroit’s northwest side Aug. 6, 2016.

A conviction could have meant four years in prison and an end to Scrill’s work mentoring Detroit youth in the schools, among other consequences. New Era Detroit has claimed ongoing police harassment and intimidation, directed at the growing group of young Detroit activists mobilizing for political, economic and social justice at the grass roots level.

Atty. Victoria Burton-Harris, Scrill and law clerk Robert Burton-Harris listen to prosecutor’s closing statement Jan. 26, 2017.

According to the Register of Actions, a warrant for Scrill’s arrest on the charges was not issued until Sept. 27, 2017, long after he was released after his arrest Aug. 6, 2016, when he was ticketed for blocking the street.

Scrill told VOD earlier, “I work with NED for the concerns of the civilian community, dealing with the right to vote, freedom of speech, the right to assemble, and the Second Amendment, the right to defend ourselves. We do school tours, mentoring youth and getting them more involved in the community. I spearheaded the ‘Black to Reality’ program, and also the ‘Building Young Kings’ program at Pershing High School. I have a passion for dealing with special needs children.”

Attorney Victoria Burton-Harris, who represented Scrill, assisted by her law clerk/husband Robert Burton-Harris, told VOD after the acquittal, “It’s a relief that when officers lie and are caught in their lies, they don’t get away with it. They are responsible to their community.”

NED sponsors “Building Young Kings” program at Pershing High School. Photo: NED

She stressed during the trial that Scrill had only been exercising his right to defend himself against unlawful police conduct, as the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in People v. Moreno (2012). (See 

Testimony in Scrill’s trial lasted two days in front of Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Qiana Lillard.

AP Veronique Tu

Assistant Prosecutor Veronique Tu claimed in her opening statement that Duplessis and Cook followed members of New Era Detroit during a street march that began on Joy Road and turned onto Greenview Avenue Aug. 6.

“At some point, they noticed the defendant appeared to have a gun in his waistband,” Tu told the jury. “The defendant ignored their command to get out of the street and the officers moved in to get his gun. The defendant didn’t say he had a Concealed Pistol License [CPL], and he was charged with resisting and obstructing. That doesn’t have to mean physical violence, just a knowing failure to comply with the law.”

Attorney Burton-Harris presented the video below, taken by New Era Detroit members, at the beginning of her opening statement to the jury.

“These were young people engaged in going door-to-door to register people to vote,” Burton-Harris said. “Some had children with them. Every single week, they went through the neighborhoods to engage the residents. This time, the sidewalks were obstructed by construction, so they went into the street. The cops just waded through the group to where James Eberheart was walking. They didn’t say anything. A female officer shoved her hand down the front of his pants from behind him. The gun was inside a holster very close to his genitals. It was loaded, with a hot rod in the chamber, ready to go off at any moment. She got it and then dropped it on the pavement.”

She said the officers then grabbed Eberheart as he explained that he had back problems and asked them not to handcuff him too tightly. She said they never spoke to him prior to seizing his gun and him, then belatedly investigated, found he had a CPL, and released him.

Tu presented testimony by four Detroit cops involved in the incident, who often contradicted each other. They claimed they had given Eberheart several face-to-face orders to get out of the street, but that he ignored them.

Officer Katrina Duplessis testified she and her partner Phillip Cook activated their police car’s sirens and emergency lights after observing a crowd of 25-30 people. She said she got out and approached Scrill from five feet away, ordering him to clear the road, but that he ignored her, stood with his fist in the air, and kept on going. She said she observed “the handle of a weapon” in his waistband when his shirt rode up, and advised Cook that he had a gun when she got back in the car.

Duplessis stood and demonstrated Eberheart’s alleged stance at the time, pointing to where she claimed his gun was. She said he continued to ignore subsequent commands, and that they then waited for back-up.

These two officers sat in on trial in uniform, laughing, but did not testify. Were they on duty?

“Then I walked up to him and apprehended him,” Duplessis said. “My partner grabbed his left arm. I tried to grab his right arm but he pulled it down, placed his forearm over my arm and asked ‘What’s going on?’ I retrieved his weapon, made it safe, and placed it in the scout car.”

She said she took the gun because she suspected Eberheart of committing the crime of carrying a concealed weapon. In a video presented by the prosecution, Duplessis could clearly be seen putting her arm abruptly and tightly around Scrill’s waist from behind.

On cross-exam by Atty. Burton-Harris, Duplessis admitted that Scrill did not threaten the officers with his fist, or draw and brandish his gun at them.  She said she did not recall that Scrill’s gun was in a holster, never read him his Miranda rights, and denied that she dropped the gun on the ground after removing it. She said she did not ask him if he had a license to carry the gun, and that he “screamed” he didn’t have a gun.

Burton-Harris asked her, “Is attempting to disarm a man, threatening the subject by unsuspectingly grabbing his waistband from behind, meant to keep the officer and the public safe?” Burton-Hill asked. Duplessis responded, “Yes.”

New Era Detroit Hood to Hood/Photo NED

Officer Phillip Cook testified that HE was the one who got out of the scout car and approached Eberheart to tell him to get out of the street.  He said he was three feet from him, “directly in his face.” He reiterated Duplessis’ testimony that Eberheart ignored him and put his fist in the air, and that it was then that Cook saw a gun in his waistband.

He said he and Duplessis then followed Eberheart through the crowd, as he was running away, being “evasive.” He said Eberheart struggled with him for “three to five minutes” as he tried to grab his left arm while Duplessis was removing his gun, and that Eberheart also struggled with her over the weapon, as a crowd converged around them.

Judge Qiana Denise Lillard during Scrill’s trial Jan. 26, 2017.

He said Eberheart was in danger of being shot by the police at that point. Burton-Hill asked him on cross, “Your testimony is that he could have lost his life?”

With the jury out of the courtroom, Judge Lillard denied Atty. Burton-Harris’ request to admit the firearms statute governing concealed pistol licenses into evidence. That statute specifies that an individual with a CPL must show his driver’s license and CPL to an officer “upon request,” or upon “being stopped.” (See

Burton-Harris contended that police never made a request to Eberheart, and that he was illegally “stopped.” Burton-Harris asked Cook on cross-exam if the CPL disclosure requirement meant that someone passing an officer on the street should say “Good morning to you, top of the morning to you, I’m carrying a concealed pistol.”

Cook responded, “Yes.”

Cook said he never told Officers Jason James and James Corsi, who had arrived in the back-up unit and followed him and Duplessis into the group, that he suspected Eberheart had a gun.

Burton-Harris also asked him whether he and his partner seized Eberheart because he was leading the group at the front of it, not running away. Cook did not respond.

Officer Jason James of the back-up unit testified that he and his partner James Corsi exited their vehicle shortly after Duplessis and Cook had, and saw them walking up to Eberheart and speaking to him.

“He [Eberheart] turned away and dropped his right arm at his waistband,” James said. “She [Duplessis] reached around on his right side. At that time I saw what appeared to be the butt of a gun. Officer Cook grabbed his other arm. A crowd gathered and I attempted to move them away but they would not leave. Then I looked over and saw them [Duplessis and Eberheart] struggling over the gun. I grabbed the defendant’s right hand off the gun and put him in an ‘arm bar.’”

Leaders of New Era Detroit, including (2nd from left) Scrill and Zeek; with Agnes Hitchcock of Call’em Out

He said he ordered Eberheart to drop the gun, and put him in an “arm bar.”  He said he and Cook escorted Eberheart to the police car and detained him for “not following a lawful order.”

Judge Lillard refused a defense request to allow James’ police report into evidence. On cross-exam, he said his original statement in the report that he observed Officer Cook asking Eberheart for his CDL and paperwork was incorrect.

The defense introduced an expletive-laced police car audiotape in which James and his partner Corsi extensively discussed the first officers’ version of the incident prior to exiting their car. Corsi, a two-year veteran, decried the incident, saying such cases were “pushing him more and more out of law enforcement.” He said that the first officers needed “to do a better job of communication.” He said he saw Duplessis’ hand inside the defendant’s pants.

Corsi testified on cross that he did not see any interaction between Eberheart and the first two officers, except that he might have heard someone say “Stop.” He said three officers, his partner James, Duplessis and Cook, went toward Eberheart and grabbed him.

Judge Lillard denied a defense motion for a directed verdict after the prosecution rested.

Regina Walker shows how cops grabbed Scrill from behind after disarming him. She said his gun flew to the pavement, endangering the crowd.

The defense opened with the testimony of Regina Walker, who said she was part of the New Era Detroit group that day.

“We were talking to people in the neighborhood as part of our Hood to Hood campaign,” which we did monthly, Walker testified. “We gave information on light and gas bills and safety.” She said the group frequently went door-to-door during such campaigns.

She said she saw the first police car pull up at Joy Rd. and Greenview, with no lights or siren on. She thought they were going to go away, but then they came back, and Duplessis opened her door, while Cook kept his shut.

“Eberheart was all the way up front,” Walker testified. “The police car was in the very back. All of a sudden a bunch of police cars came up. I asked the officers, ‘Are you going to shoot’?”

Walker said Duplessis had her hand on her gun and Cook had his on his taser.

“They burst through the crowd and grabbed Eberheart from the back,” Walker testified. “The female officer was reaching for his weapon, and when she took it out of the holster she dropped it on the ground.”

Walker specified on cross exam that three officers grabbed Eberheart, and four were involved in apprehending him.

She said Eberheart appeared “confused.” At that point, Judge Lillard interrupted Walker’s testimony with no objection from the prosecution, as she did several times during her testimony. She had the jury leave the room and ordered Atty. Burton-Harris to take Walker outside to instruct her that she could not testify to another person’s state of mind.

Scrill, on witness stand, listens to police audiotape Jan. 26, 2017.

When Walker returned, she said she was about 15 feet away from the officers and Eberheart. She repeated that the officers had grabbed Eberheart from the back, spun him one way, then tried to turn him the other way, and put one arm behind his back. She said he struggled at first and then stopped once he realized that it was police who had grabbed him.  She said she did not hear any of the officers say anything to Eberheart. She said she heard Eberheart telling the officers he had a back injury and not to be rough with him.

“I never heard them give a command to Eberheart,” Walker said. “They never approached him before, only when they grabbed him. The other officers jumped out of their cars telling us to disperse. I asked a neighbor if I could sit on her porch to observe. I was not afraid for me, I was afraid for the people on the side where the officer took out his gun and it fell on the ground. It could have gone off. We did have children with us.”

She said police had harassed every Hood to Hood event she had participated in. Judge Lillard sustained the prosecutor’s objection to that testimony. On cross, Walker said she was only afraid for the people, not for the officers, a point which the prosecution tried to belabor.

Scrill then took the stand himself to testify.

“I was protecting myself,” he said. “I was in fear for my life. Someone coming from behind caught me off guard.” On cross, he said he did not see who grabbed him. He said he removed his left wrist at first, then looked behind and saw that they were officers and ceased resisting.

He said he had a valid CPL and driver’s license, which he showed Cook after he was handcuffed. Scrill said Cook told him he was trying to get his attention previously.

“I asked him what did he say?” Scrill said. “He told me he said ‘Excuse me, sir.’ I told him there were a lot of ‘sirs’ out there.”

Scrill with Call ’em Out member Gladys Woolfolk after acquittal Jan. 27, 2017; others from the older generation included Les Little, BabaCharles Simmons and MamaSandra Simmons of Hush House, Debbie Williams

The defense replayed the prosecution’s audiotape of the event, during which Cook can be heard demanding that Scrill acknowledge him “as a man” during their conversation at the scout car. On cross, Scrill denied any contact with the police or hearing any orders from them prior to their grabbing him from behind.

After Judge Lillard gave the jury instructions, they retired to the jury room to deliberate for about 15 minutes. When she had the court officer knock and tell them the day was over, they could be heard loudly saying, “Oh, no!” It appeared that they wanted to render their not guilty verdict that day.

Supporters said several jury members congratulated Scrill and his supporters as they left the court Jan. 27.

Contact information for New Era Detroit:



Legal defense GOFUNDME page at


Turn out for one of Call ’em Out’s previous annual dinners. Call’em Out helped pack the courtroom for New Era Detroit leader Scrill’s trial and plans to donate all proceeds from their dinner this year to NED, calling it “Passing the Torch” to a new generation

       Call’em Out’s Sambo Awards Dinner!

                       Monday, February 27, 2017 6-10 pm

                                 International Institute

111 Kirby west of Woodward Detroit (west of DIA) 

International Institute on Kirby east of Woodward

Tickets $10: Proceeds to support New Era Detroit’s Mission 

Call 313-874-2792 for tickets and further info

#NewEraDetroit, #CallemOut, #AllPowertothePeople, #NewEraNation, #WeAllWeGot

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New Era Detroit: One of our prominent members was charged with TWO counts of felony assault on TWO police officers for THIS event on Aug 6th. Now either we have mastered the art of “imaginary assault” or the call is out to try and put whatever charges on us possible to agitate and unarm us. If you know New Era Detroit then you must know we are not going down without a fight. We want to let our people and the community know at this point your support is needed more than ever!  

If you do NOT see a assault by a NED member we would like for you to call the Detective on the case (313) 596-5604 or call the 6th Precinct (313) 596-5600 and let them know that “You seen the video and you stand with New Era Detroit” nothing more nothing less.

NOW would be the time for you to show up and support us as we fight against the powers that be! The only way that we lose this time around is if WE DO NOT STAND TOGETHER AND ALLOW THEM TO DO WHAT THEY CHOOSE #WeAllWeGot The people that want us gone are the the people that DON’T WANT FOR US! Black or White. We will NEVER back down because we know that our people & our youth are depending on us! We would like to thank you in advance Peace & Love 


Trial of NED member “Scrill” begins Wed. Jan. 25, 2017 @ 9 a.m. in front of Judge Qiana Lillard, Rm. 502, Frank Murphy Hall, St. Antoine at Gratiot

“Scrill” charged with two counts of “assaulting, resisting and obstructing” cops during  Aug. 6, 2016 police attack on peaceful community march

Trial happening as Trump takes office as U.S. President; NED earlier protested at Greater Faith Ministries Church, whose pastor Wayne Jackson hosted Trump in campaign visit to Detroit

MSC People v. Moreno: upheld “the traditional common-law rule that a person may resist an unlawful arrest.” 

NED raising legal defense funds on GoFundMe

Call ‘em Out to contribute proceeds from Annual Dinner Feb. 27 to support NED—“Passing the torch”

By Diane Bukowski

January 23, 2017

New Era Detroit march/Facebook photo

DETROIT – New Era Detroit, a growing group of young Detroit activists mobilizing for political, economic and social justice at the grass roots level, is calling for supporters to attend the trial of prominent member “Scrill,” a/k/a James Eberheart, Jr.

The trial begins Wed. Jan. 25, 2017, at 9 a.m. in the courtroom of Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Qiana Lillard, #502 at the Frank Murphy Hall, St. Antoine and Gratiot.

Judge Lillard is also hearing the case of prominent juvenile lifer Charles Lewis, who has spent 41 years in prison, falsely charged with the murder of a Detroit police officer in 1976. (See VOD story below this one at

Scrill is charged with two felony counts of “assaulting, resisting and obstructing” police officers who NED says attacked their peaceful neighborhood march Aug. 6, 2016, shown in the video above. Each of the charges carries a maximum of two years in prison and/or $20,000 in fines.

Defense Attorney Victoria Burton-Harris/Linkedin photo

His defense attorney, Victoria Burton-Harris, is a member of the National Lawyers Guild as well as the National Conference of Black Lawyers.

She told VOD, “These charges are a waste of taxpayer dollars, county resources, and quite honestly, they are shameful. My client did nothing wrong. He was engaged in a community activity through New Era Detroit, was accosted by the Detroit Police Department, attacked, disarmed, placed in handcuffs, and shoved into the back of a police car. Then the officers finally began a proper investigation, taking his ID, including a proper Concealed Carry License, and released him. They did however keep his firearm. A week later, he got a notice in the mail that he was being charged with assaulting and resisting.”

Atty. Burton-Harris said the only offer Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s office has made is to drop one count if the defendant pled guilty to the other, but she said he rejected the offer because he did not resist or assault anyone.

Judge Qiana Lillard

In 2012, VOD covered the historic Michigan Supreme Court decision in People V. Moreno, which upheld the people’s “common-law right to resist unlawful arrest” and overturned an earlier appeals court decision, People v. Ventura, which held that police orders, whether legal or not, must be obeyed. This landmark decision received very little media coverage, none in Detroit other than VOD’s story.

Evidently, Detroit police have not gotten the Moreno message yet. VOD was in Judge Lillard’s court reviewing Charles Lewis’ file last month. Testimony was being taken in the case of a young Detroit woman whose home had been invaded by police without a warrant, a situation nearly identical to that which occasioned the Moreno ruling. In that case, Judge Lillard did throw out the results of the subsequent search, admonishing the prosecution and police for their illegal conduct.


Ironically, Scrill’s trial takes place just after the inauguration of Donald Trump as U.S. President Jan. 21. NED played a leading role in opposing Trump’s campaign visit to Detroit, sponsored by Pastor Wayne Jackson of Greater Faith Ministries, during its protest (date).

Video above published on Sep 17, 2016 by 7 Mile Radio

Earlier today I made a visit to Great Faith Ministries, the church Donald Trump recently visited in Detroit. While I was there, right after they passed the offering buckets around and the congregation was finished giving their gifts of $1000 or $300 to the pastor, because that’s what he asked for, (& I found it odd that the church would ask for a specific amount for a TITHE/ DONATION. Especially that much) somebody yelled “all power to the people.” Church security (or what looked like church security) rushed up on behind me, so I cut my camera on. Soon as I did, someone said “oh you’re with him too?” and two people grabbed me from both sides and the back of my neck. As they roughhoused me up the isle way somebody put me in the headlock (0:13– 0:16) and tried to drag me the rest of the way out the church. After we got out side you can see at (1:27) where the same dude tries to knock my camera out out of my hand. Then at (1:28) where one of the deacons, security or whatever pokes his finger into the forehead of one of the New Era Detroit members, edging him on in an aggressive manner. I was there visiting, the church security / deacons (or who ever) didn’t have any reason to manhandle me the way they did out of the church just because someone seen me trying to record after all the commotion broke out. I had gone live on Facebook two times during the service and nobody bothered be about my camera until the security attacked who ever yelled. This is RAW UN EDITED footage from inside the church.”

Women’s March on Washington against Trump Jan. 21, 2017

Trump is already expressing virulent opposition to media rights and protests against his presidency before, during and after the inaugural parade. He disputed the size of the Women’s Anti-Trump march Jan. 21, falsely claiming his inaugural march Jan. 20 was much larger. In typically fascist mode, he has immediately frozen the hiring of federal workers as well as any payraises, despite his earlier pro-worker rhetoric.

New Era Detroit is now spreading across the country, calling itself “New Era Nation,” and presenting a clear threat to Trump’s agenda for the country. A recent post on their Facebook page said,

“CALLING ON OUR #EastCoast FAMILY IN #NewYork #Philadelphia & #Baltimore New Era Nation be taking our East Coast Tour June 15-18 with stops in #Baltimore June 15th where we will be looking to organize and start up our Baltimore chapter. In #Philadelphia June 16th where we will be looking to organize and start up our Philly chapter. And in NY June 17th & 18th for a National conference as well and to start our NY chapter! If you are anywhere in NY, Baltimore, Philadelphia or surrounding areas and would like to be a part of #NewEraNation please contact us today! Send us a message or email us at  we are looking forward to building with our East Coast family! WE ALL WE GOT #NewEraNation.”

Call ’em Out’s “Blackinaw Island” gathering May 31, 2014; Agnes Hitchcock in front, center.

Agnes Hitchcock is a leader of the grass-roots organization “Call ‘em Out,” prominent for years in the battle against the state takeover of the Detroit Public Schools and the City of Detroit.

“We are supporting the new young activists of New Era Detroit, in light of their legal problems, because we need their energy,” Hitchcock said. “We intend to support them in court. We also intend to contribute all proceeds from our Annual Awards Dinner to New Era Detroit, as part of ‘passing the torch’ to the new generation.”

The Call ‘em Out Awards Dinner will be held Mon. Feb. 27, from 6 to 10 pm., at the International Institute at 111 Kirby, next to the Detroit Institute of Arts. Hitchcock said tickets are available by calling 313-874-2792.

New Era Detroit also has a legal defense GOFUNDME page at

Its Facebook page is at .

Below, see VOD videojournalist Kenneth Snodgrass’ ironic coverage of inauguration of Donald Trump, showing what the people, especially youth of color from our cities, will be up against in the coming period.

The New Elected President Of U.S.A. Published on Jan 21, 2017

* * A No Struggle, No Development Production! By KennySnod Activist, Photographer, Videographer, and Author of 
1) “From Victimization to Empowerment, The Challenge of African American Leadership, The Need of Real Power.” – EBook available at
2) “The World As I’ve seen it! My Greatest Experience!” {Photo Book} with more than 80 pages, and over 280 pictures.
Special order only, contact me at,
3) My Books, My next book I’m working on is called “My Conversation with Mr. James Boggs” who was an Author, Activist, etc., and was my close friend. RIP James. By Kenneth Snodgrass
* Music by Israel Snodgrass, “Sending up My Praise” and, or Della Tamin “Afro Salsa”.
* A No Struggle, No Development Production

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Charles Lewis has been in prison for over 41 years, since the age of 17, framed up for the murder of a Detroit cop he says he did not commit. He has taken college, culinary arts and many other courses, and become a highly skilled jail-house lawyer.

COME TO LEWIS’ POST-CONVICTION HEARING THURS. FEB. 9, 2017, 9AM,                JUDGE QIANA LILLARD, RM. 502, FRANK MURPHY HALL                               St. Antoine at Gratiot


Judge Thomas’ non-binding opinion, issued Aug. 16, 2006, discovered during review of “re-constituted” court file, ordered as part of  “juvenile lifer” re-sentencing

File still missing documents, Register of Actions required by State law; no DPD documents, no felony “Information” record

Lewis not involved in “re-constitution,” has not even seen file yet; objects to validity of file

By Diane Bukowski

January 19, 2017

DETROIT – Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Deborah Thomas issued a stunning opinion Aug. 16, 2006, declaring the 1977 murder conviction of juvenile lifer Charles Lewis void on several grounds. She said he should have been a free man beginning March 22, 1977, and thereafter at other points during his 41-year incarceration.

Judge Thomas’ opinion came to light during VOD’s review Jan. 17 of an incomplete stack of records meant to replace Lewis’ lost case file.

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Qiana Lillard, who is hearing arguments related to Lewis’ re-sentencing as a “juvenile lifer,” ordered the “re-construction” of his file Nov. 11. She denied his motion for dismissal of charges which cited precedents from the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts in similar situations. She has changed the deadline for re-constitution of the filed to January 13, 2017, and for challenges to the file’s contents to Jan. 26, 2017.

In her opinion, Judge Thomas upheld four points raised by Lewis in an earlier motion for relief from judgment, while claiming that “the law of the case doctrine” forced her to deny relief.  Lewis was charged with the first-degree murder of off-duty Detroit Police Officer Gerald A. Sypitkowski outside an eastside Detroit bar July 31, 1976.

Judge Thomas said regarding Lewis’ motion for reconsideration of her 2002 decision on the matter (points are listed in order of importance, not as numbered in opinion):

  1. That “the unconstitutional discharge of the first jury in this matter was the equivalent of an acquittal.” Former Detroit Recorders Court Judge Joseph E. Maher dismissed the Lewis jury March 22, 1977 after testimony ended, Thomas said, without cause or a motion for a mistrial by either prosecution or defense. The doctrine of double jeopardy therefore barred another trial. 
  1. Maher’s jury instructions calling Lewis “guilty” of one element after an illegal second trial in November, 1977 “had a devastating impact on the jury,” causing it to find him guilty. 
  • “The above instruction in this case was especially offensive,” Thomas said. “Two versions of the deceased death were presented to the jury. The three juveniles testified collectively that Jeffrey Mulligan was driving a stolen yellow Grand Torino, and that Ronald Pettway was a passenger in the front seat and the Defendant was a passenger in the back seat, seated on the passenger’s side with a sawed-off shotgun. The three also testified that the yellow Grand Torino pulled up to the curb, and further that the deceased was standing at a bus stop when the Defendant requested his wallet then shot him in the head with a sawed-off shotgun. (Thomas says earlier in her statement of facts that charges brought against Mulligan were dropped after he agreed to testify against Lewis.)
  • Judge Joseph Maher–1976 press photo

    “What is disturbing is the fact that the jury had to reject the testimony of Dennis Van Fleteren, an eye witness who was also a Detroit Police Officer, and the partner of the deceased, to convict the Defendant. The jury had to also reject the testimony of Jay Smith, who was also an eye witness to the murder. Both Dennis Van Fleteren and Jay Smith testified that the fatal shot that killed the deceased came from the driver side of a white Mark IV. The jury had also to reject the testimony of Kim Divine, Gloria Ratachek, Donald DeMarc, and William Eichmann. The jury also had to totally disregard the testimony of the first alleged perpetrator Leslie Nathanial. Mr. Nathanial testified that he was driving down Harper with his lights out on the night of the murder. The white Mark IV that was driven by Leslie Nathanial, it should be noted was destroyed in the Seventh Precinct impound lot. (Judge Thomas noted earlier in her statement of facts that Nathanial, arrested three hours after the killing, was released after giving a statement to then Sgt. Gil Hill.)

  • “The high hurdles that the jury overcame to convict is clear evidence that the jury was swayed by the Judge’s instruction . . . .It is hard to fathom that a jury would summarily dismiss the testimony of a police officer who was also the partner of the deceased in favor of three juveniles. I also have some questions as to how four juveniles in two cars could be missed by everyone on the scene of the crime. It is the opinion of this Court that this above instruction by Judge Maher had a devastating effect on the jury.”
  1. Judge Edward Thomas in 2005 after retirement.

    Lewis’ “conviction should have been deemed vacated on September 22, 1980.” A “Pearson” evidentiary hearing was ordered held by the Court of Appeals on Aug. 22, 1980 after a motion for “a Delayed New Trial” made by Lewis’ then court-appointed attorney Rose Mary Robinson was denied by Recorders’ Court Judge Edward Thomas. The hearing was sought to include testimony from witnesses that had been excluded from Lewis’ second trial. Judge Thomas said, “In Pearson, the Michigan Supreme Court held, “Should the prosecutor fail to seek a post remand hearing within 30 days the conviction shall be deemed vacated and the prosecutor may proceed with a new trial.” The “Pearson” hearing was not held until January, 1981. 

  1. “. . . .the removal of Rose Mary Robinson by Judge Edward M. Thomas (in October, 1980) was arbitrary and unjustified.” Judge Thomas agreed with Lewis’ legal citations from the Michigan Court of Appeals “that the unjustified removal of a Defendant’s appointed counsel during a critical stage in the proceedings violates the Defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel.” Judge Edward Thomas replaced Robinson with Attorney Gerald Evelyn, who argued that he had not been given enough time to consult with his client to prepare for the hearing. 

At the conclusion of her opinion, Thomas said, “It is the sincere hope of this Court that the Defendant will appeal this order to Michigan Court of Appeals, and further that the Michigan Court of Appeals will render an opinion in this matter that is consistent with justice.”

Read entire opinion at

Rosie Lewis with her son Charles Lewis after his 1977 incarceration.

In interviews with VOD, Lewis and his mother fleshed out other key elements of what appears to be a deliberate, heinous miscarriage of justice aimed at covering up the true perpetrator(s) of Sypitkowski’s murder, which is shaping up more and more to look like a mob hit. 

Lewis told VOD that there were actually THREE trials in his murder case. He said a jury was seated for a second trial in front of a judge other than Maher weeks after the first trial ended, but that Maher intervened, insisting that the case be re-assigned to him. The final trial in November resulted in his conviction after Maher told the jury, “Now you have heard evidence tending to show that the Defendant, Charles Lewis was GUILTY of another shooting in the course of an armed robbery for which he is now on trial here.”

His mother, an articulate, passionate woman who was associated with Chokwe Lumumba and others in the heyday of Detroit activism, told VOD she witnessed a shocking event during Lewis’ first trial. Charles, who Mrs. Lewis calls by his middle name “Lamont,” was the first of five children, including two sisters and two brothers.

At the time of his trial, his siblings were still children. Mrs. Lewis said she brought them to court because she could not afford day care and wanted them to support their brother as well. She said she brought food from home including apples and oranges.

Lewis’ prosecuting attorney Robert Morgan represented Detroit mobsters including Paul Corrado, shown here.

“One of my kids dropped a bag of food in the courtroom during a break,” she told VOD. “I had to go in and get down on my hands and knees on the floor to pick it all up because I could not afford to buy any more. Then Judge Maher, the prosecutor [Robert Morgan] and the attorney for my son [Arthur Arduin] came in discussing the case, thinking no one else was there. Maher said, ‘The man [Sypitkowski] knew he was gonna get killed, that’s why he left out of the bar and that’s why he took his partner’s gun when he left.’  So they KNEW what really happened and weren’t going to do anything. They were all in on the frame-up of my son. I jumped up and confronted them about it. I called them names and screamed at them, ‘You know the truth—why are you lying on my son? You know he didn’t kill that man!’”

Mrs. Lewis said there was no one she could report the incident to, particularly because all those in power at the time were white.

Wayne County Prosecutor Robert Morgan, who handled Lewis’ case, became a top attorney for Detroit Mafia leaders. One was Paul Corrado, among of six indicted by a grand jury and tried in federal court in Detroit in 1998, according to numerous media reports and listings on the federal website.

“A grand jury indictment charges all of them in a 30-year conspiracy of extortion, loan-sharking, illegal gambling, obstruction of justice, and attempts to gain hidden control over Nevada casinos,” reported the Detroit Free Press on March 24, 1998. 

The Las Vegas Sun said, “Robert Morgan, the attorney for alleged mafia member Paul Corrado, 39, of Macomb County’s Clinton Township, tried to downplay the hundreds of hours of taped conversations between his client and co-defendant Nove Tocco, 50, also of Clinton Township.

“Morgan, who called his client a “nitwit” and low-level bookie, said the tapes are full of obscenities, racial slurs and talk about criminal activity. But he said it was just talk, not linked to any action.

“They don’t shoot anyone,” he said. “Most of their shots are with their mouths. There are no bullet-ridden bodies. No one is ever shot at.”

Book by Detroit mob expert Scott Burnstein.

The family of Gerald Sypitkowski would likely not agree with that assessment. Rosie Lewis earlier told VOD that Leslie Nathanial worked at Chrysler Jefferson Assembly, where she also worked. She said word in the plant was that he was a bookie. At the time, according to the book “Motor City Mafia: A Century of Organized Crime in Detroit,” by Scott M. Burnstein, the mob was heavily involved in bookmaking and extortion of store owners in certain areas.

VOD was able to locate and call one of the juvenile witnesses, Mark Alonzo Kennedy. He was reluctant to talk, but he did say, “Sure the police put pressure on us. It was the murder of a cop. We were 15, 16 years old; they threatened us with being charged too.”

Asked about what happened the night of July 31, 1976, he said he had tried to “black” it out of his mind and doesn’t remember much.  VOD reminded him that Charles Lewis CAN’T block it out of his mind.

“I’m 57 years old now and that was 41 years ago,” Kennedy said. “We were driving down Harper going somewhere I don’t remember exactly. I HEARD gunfire, but I didn’t see where it came from. It was impossible to see who the shooter was because I was in the second vehicle and Charles was in the first vehicle.”

Regarding the police interrogation, he said, “One of the Boy Scouts said Charles’ name and other names.” Though prompted, he did not explain what he meant by the term “Boy Scouts.” Asked about the trial, he said he had company and hung up.

Gil Hill is seen in FBI surveillance photo conferring with known drug dealer Willie Volsan and Sgt. James Harris.

No one who witnessed the murder other than the juveniles testified that they saw two cars with four Black teens in them on Harper during the event.

On Jan. 17, VOD reviewed a cardboard box containing the transcripts of Lewis’ preliminary exam and his second trial, plus several thick documents including a partial transcript of his first trial, held apart, along with various lists of documents, and the original contents of Judge Lillard’s court record.

There was no Detroit Police Department file, no felony information record or investigator’s report authored by the DPD,  normally included in a criminal case file. There were no witness statements from the three juveniles who testified against Lewis, which then Sgt. Gil Hill said during Lewis’ second trial were taken Aug. 1 and Aug. 6, 1976, or any videotapes of the statements. There were none from any of the eyewitnesses who said they saw gunfire from a Lincoln Mark IV kill Sypitkowski.

According to the transcript, Hill said during Lewis’ trial that usually all juveniles are processed through juvenile court, not the Homicide Division of the DPD. But he said he headed a “Special Assignment Squad” which was used in cases involving shootings or killings of police officers. He said he designated Sgt. Marvin Johnson to be the “officer-in-charge” of the case, but on the day of the trial, he testified that Johnson  was not available because he was in a hospital intensive care unit suffering from cardiac problems. So Hill testified in his stead. Hill was the officer who discounted reports regarding the white Lincoln Mark IV in a story published by the Detroit Free Press Aug. 1, 1976.

As VOD pointed out in its earlier story “Dirty Dealings,” drug dealer and police snitch “White Boy Rick” Wershe said he told the FBI about Hill’s involvement in numerous homicide cover-ups, and a hitman Nate Boone Craft said as part of a documentary on Wershe’s life that Gil Hill tried to hire him to kill Wershe.  The FBI investigated Hill over a period of time, but never charged him. Story at

During its examination of the “re-constituted” file, VOD did not locate 34 documents listed on a page titled “Charles Lewis–Index of Court Documents,” except for his preliminary exam transcript. Also not present were documents listed on other pages scattered throughout the file.


Wayne County Deputy Court Clerk David Baxter testifies at Charles Lewis hearing Oct. 28, 2016 that his case file had gone completely missing.

Most of the documents in the box, consisting of trial transcripts of Lewis’ second trial, were stamped on top “filed May 4, 2016,” although alleged dates of original filing existed in the body of the documents. It was unclear how these documents were obtained.

Among documents on top of the file was an email sent by Deputy Court Clerk David Baxter to Patricia Ways Nov. 7, 2016, titled “Report for Charles Lewis 76-5890,” listing documents his office had in its possession at that point.

One Cheryl Jordan responded to Baxter, asking him “Comparing this to the ROA [Register of Actions] are any transcripts still missing?” Baxter responded, “There is no Register of Actions for this case. The only information in Odyssey is data that was converted from AS400. The first entry in the computer is from April of 2000.”

(See email at

Michigan state law regarding contents of court files considers the presence of a valid Register of Actions, listing all documents placed in the case file, to be of primary importance.

Whether Judge Lillard will certify the contents of the “re-constituted” case file as she indicated in her order remains to be seen. Either way, there is enough evidence out there to indicate that Charles Lewis is innocent of the murder of Gerald A. Sypitkowski. It is certainly enough to have convinced Judge Deborah Thomas, a prominent community leader who conducted a determined battle to get more Detroit residents, especially Blacks, on Wayne County Circuit Court juries.  Judge Thomas has also twice run for the State Supreme Court as the Democratic Party nominee.

Will Judge Lillard go ahead with the re-sentencing of an innocent man, either to life without parole again as the prosecution asks, or to 40-60 years, as Lewis’ court-appointed attorney Valerie Newman wants?

Or will she “render an opinion in this matter that is consistent with justice,” as Judge Deborah Thomas wanted?

Charles Lewis supporter Doc X, with others, talks to media outside courtroom Oct. 11, 2016. Photo: Cornell Squires

Related stories:



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Prison in California is reminiscent of a slave ship.

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

“The system is deliberately racist, brutal, arbitrary and malevolent.”

January 3, 2017

Americans imprison big, but they pardon very small. President Obama set a record by giving clemency to 1/2000th of the 2.3million U.S. prison inmates. The Brennan Center recommends release of 40 percent of inmates. But the Black Is Back Coalition calculates that even release of twice that many – 80 percent – would still maintain mass incarceration at 1973 levels. The whole damn system has to go, for Black folks to even get close to justice.

President Barack Obama

President Obama, a master of public relations, now has bragging rights for having granted clemency to a record number of federal prisoners – 1,176 of them, at last count, more than those set free by the past 11 presidents, combined. Looking at the number from a different angle, Obama released only one out of every two thousand of the nation’s 2.3 million prison inmates, the largest incarcerated population in the world, both in raw numbers and in the proportion of U.S. society living behind bars. In other words, Obama’s clemencies, like all other presidents’, are statistically meaningless and morally and politically distractive. But, of course, that’s what Obama’s good at – distracting people.

The incompetent, lazy and white supremacist corporate media forget, or never reported, that for several years the Obama administration delayed the release from prison of five times as many inmates as he pardoned: about 6,000 federal prisoners convicted under the old crack cocaine laws. A federal appeals court wanted to let them out, ruling that they were covered by a prison reform bill, but President Obama successfully argued to keep these men and women in prison. Several years later, Obama staged a huge public relations extravaganza, releasing many of these same inmates, supposedly out of the goodness of his heart.  It was two years too late. Some never got out.

The Brennan Center for Justice released a study last month that concluded the U.S. could set free 39 percent of its prison population with no threat to public safety. The Brennan researchers argue that you can’t make a dent in the mass incarceration system unless whole categories of prisoners are made eligible for immediate releaseThey say 25 percent of the prison population should, instead, have been sentenced to drug treatment, community service, probation or a fine. Another 14 percent of inmates have already served enough time in prison, and are no longer a risk. Together, that comes to almost 40 percent of the prison population — one and a half million people, about half of them Black.

“Not Even a Half-Way Measure”

Prison reformers seem to think the system can be made more rational and fair. They don’t seem to understand that the system is deliberately racist, brutal, arbitrary and malevolent — it is not meant to be fair, and it cannot be reformed. Former Black Panther Sundiata Acoli turns 80 this month. He has been in a New Jersey prison since 1973 and first became eligible for parole in 1992, but was turned down by the parole board, which set his next parole hearing for 15 years from now, when Sundiata Acoli will be 95 years old. 

This system is pure meanness and race-hate. The Brennan Center’s proposal to release almost 40 percent of prison inmates is, itself, not even a half-way measure. As the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations points out in number five of its 19 point platform on Black self-determination, the United States would have to release 80 percent of its prison population — four out of every five inmates — just to bring the incarceration rate down to 1973 levels. And, remember: the U.S. was already the worst mass incarceration state in the world back in 1973. Even the release of four out every five inmates does not change the essential nature of American mass Black incarceration. There can be no compromise with such an evil.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at


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U.S. Supreme Court first declared juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) unconstitutional for all in 2012

Michigan’s older, ill  juvenile lifers may die in prison waiting for justice; only 30 Wayne County lifers, or 20.4%, have been re-sentenced so far

Charles Lewis: post-conviction hearing set for Thurs. Feb. 9, 2017; Worthy wants to re-instate JLWOP for him despite documented innocence claims 

By Diane Bukowski

January 12, 2017 Update January 13, 2017 

Note: earlier version of this story reported 8% re-sentenced; figures updated

Supporter of Charles Lewis at rally Oct. 11, 2016

DETROIT – Charles Lewis, a Wayne County juvenile lifer whose family and supporters say he is innocent of a murder charge for which he has spent 41 years in prison, recently summed up what is happening in the re-sentencing process for many of the county’s 147 juvenile lifers. 

“I think they’re just dragging things out, waiting for me to die,” Lewis told VOD. His mother Rosie Lewis earlier said, “They’ve done everything they can to him—let him go!” The County earlier admitted it had lost Lewis’ entire case file.

Lewis, 57, has had three heart attacks for which the Michigan Department of Corrections denied him effective treatment. He also suffers from severe diabetes. But he has battled throughout his 41 years in the prison system, becoming an accomplished jailhouse lawyer who has filed dozens of appeals in both the state and federal court systems.

Charles Lewis’ mother Rosie Lewis celebrates her birthday with grandkids. She has fought 41 yrs. for her son. Facebook photo

“I guess I’m addicted to the struggle,” he told VOD at one point. He currently works in the law library at Lakeland Correctional Facility and said he tries to help his fellow prisoners research and fight their cases in that capacity.  

Only two of Wayne County’s 147 juvenile lifers, William Washington and Timothy Jordan, have been paroled so far. Thirty, or 20.4%, have been re-sentenced to date, according to updated figures. Twenty-eight of the 30 got 60 year maximums and are awaiting parole. Nine were given sentences with minimums exceeding what they have served so far, meaning they are not yet parole eligible.

It has been four and a half years since the USSC’s first ruling in Miller v. Alabama (2012) that only the “rarest child” should be sentenced to die in prison, and that JLWOP was unconstitutional, a view held in every other country in the world. Most of Michigan’s juvenile lifers have served terms far beyond those accorded to adult offenders for the same crimes.

Timothy Kincaid and attorney Gerald Evelyn at re-sentencing hearing Nov. 4, 2016.

Michigan was one of four states to wait til the bitter end before agreeing that Miller was retroactive, pursuant to the USSC’s 2016 Montgomery v. Louisiana decision.

Attorney Gerald Evelyn wrote regarding Timothy Kincaid, “Mr. Kincaid was born in 1961, when the closest measure of life expectancy for his demographic (African-American males born between 1969 and 1971) was 60 years. Those numbers do not adequately account for being incarcerated for a significant if not all of those years. Thus, a 60-year sentence is a de facto life sentence, which denies Mr. Kincaid the reasonable possibility of parole during his lifetime.” 

Others including former Wayne County Prosecutor John O’Hair and Former Michigan Governor William Milliken have also condemned Michigan’s draconic juvenile lifer re-sentencing statutes, passed in 2014, which set a minimum of 25-40 up to maximum of 60 years in those cases where prosecutors have not re-recommended JLWOP. They also bar juvenile lifer re-sentencings from taking “good time” into account.

Lewis  had a post-conviction hearing scheduled Fri. Jan. 13, 2017 in front of Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Qiana Lillard, but that was adjourned until Feb. 9, 2017.

Lewis’ entire case file went missing several years ago. His falsified Register of Actions (ROA) remains intact on the county’s website, including only events from 2000 on, although he was sentenced in 1977, after three separate trials. It still incorrectly says he was convicted April 3, 2000 front of Judge Gershwin Drain.  State law considers the ROA the backbone of case files. 

On Nov. 11, Lillard denied Lewis’ motion to dismiss his case based on U.S. Supreme Court and state court precedents regarding missing or altered records. She ordered the prosecution, defense, and Clerk’s office to “re-construct” his file after eight months of hearings, during which numerous officials affirmed the loss of the records.

On Jan. 13, Deputy Court Clerk David Baxter said the re-constructed file was complete.

But Lewis says whatever is in the file cannot be accurate according to state standards (see box at left) particularly without a valid ROA. He says he also questions the legality of the re-construction procedure, saying there is no court precedent or state law supporting it.

“They can’t re-construct my file without me there,” he said. “I doubt they have the records of all three trials I had in 1977. The jury was dismissed without reason in the first trial by Judge George Maher, but I’ve always believed they acquitted me. Where are the records showing why Maher dismissed them? Next my case was assigned to Judge Ollie Gibbs and a jury was selected, but Judge Maher intervened and said he wanted to re-try the  case. Where are the records of that action? My third trial began in July, 1977, but there was never a sentencing transcript produced.”

Lewis is one of 65 juvenile lifers for whom Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy is recommending re-instatement of life without parole sentences. This means they still face complex re-sentencing hearings required by the USSC in its 2012 Miller v. Alabama decision. (See list of County juvenile lifers with LWOP or TOY  (term of years) recommendations at

Gil Hill meets with known drug dealer Willie Volsan and Sgt. James Harris. DPD/FBI surveillance photo.

Lewis was convicted of killing off-duty police officer Gerald Sypitkowski July 31, 1976. VOD reported previously that Aug. 1, 1976 Free Press coverage of the killing, obtained immediately from numerous eyewitnesses at the scene, including Sypitkowski’s partner officer Dennis Van Fleteren, exonerates Lewis. Those witnesses said the fatal shot came from a white Lincoln Mark IV driving down Harper at Barrett.

None of them told the Freep that they saw four Black teens including Lewis, then 17, in a yellow Ford Gran Torino, at the scene. 

But that was the scenario former DPD homicide chief Gil Hill (then a sergeant) cooked up against Lewis, recruiting three frightened juveniles to testify against him, admittedly overriding court rules that required them to be handled by juvenile court.  Hill, who testified he was working with the “Special Assignment Squad,” was known for decades as an allegedly dirty cop who took bribes to cover up homicides and drug-deals.

“I said that the police obviously made up their stories,” Lewis said he told his court-appointed attorney Valerie Newman. “All of their stories are basically the same story.  If you get three sixteen year old’s together and have them watch one event you will get three different versions of what happened. So, for them to all make basically the exact same statement was crap. I asked her how do you take the testimony of three juveniles over the testimony of a police officer, white college students, and a white bouncer. She could not answer that question. The reality is this, if you don’t believe in my innocence, you can’t fight for me.”

William Washington, mother  Lizzie Young Photo: Jodi Westrick, Michigan Radio

Timothy Jordan, paroled Jan. 10, 2017/Photo: MDOC

Meanwhile, to date, two juvenile lifers out of the County’s 147 have actually been paroled after re-sentencing under draconic state statutes passed in 2014. The statutes are currently under federal appeal by the American Civil Liberties Union. 

The first was William Washington, 59, who was released from prison Nov. 17, 2016 after serving 40 years, the first juvenile lifer out nearly 370 across the state to finally see freedom. Now, according to his attorney, Timothy Jordan, 48, was paroled Jan. 10, 2017, after being re-sentenced Sept. 23, 2016 to to 25 to 60 years after serving 30 years. Both Washington and Jordan still face two years of parole oversight before their status is finally confirmed.

Seven others shown below, (known to VOD) still serving these unconstitutional sentences have been re-sentenced but not yet paroled. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has appealed re-sentencing decisions for two of them, causing further delay. Some who have seen the parole board now must go through several months of re-entry classes, psychiatric evaluations, and other pre-release requirements before parole board approval.



Edward Sanders family after re-sentencing, including (l to r) aunt Jeanette Lattner, sister Yvonne Sanders, mother Joann Sanders

(L to r) Brother Julius Sanders, sister Yvonne, nephew Atwaab, mother Joann Sanders

In Kincaid’s case, an appeals court ordered Dec. 29 that he be re-sentenced to 60-90 years for “assault with intent to commit murder (AWIM),” while upholding a trial court re-sentence of 30-60 years for three counts of first-degree murder in a 1976 case.

Kincaid is already 55 years old. He has served 36 years for the murders of three women, carried out by two older men in 1976, when he was 16. Ironically, Kincaid himself did not shoot or kill any of the four women victims, instead having one hide in a closet while he shot into the ground. Two older men who were the actual killers did not receive life without parole sentences.

“According to the probation officer, the surviving victim believes she is still alive through the intercession of Mr. Kincaid, in light of his protective conduct during the shooting,” trial court Judge Michael Callahan said during Kincaid’s re-sentencing Nov. 4. “She even visited him while he was housed in the Department of Corrections.”

Attorney Evelyn said, “In the prosecution’s brief, they acknowledge that any judge has the authority to correct an unconstitutional sentence. The prosecution should not have opposed Callahan’s common sense correction,”

Odessa Kincaid, who passed in 2011, with her sons Timothy and Waymon during their youth.

Evidently, however, the COA ruling will hopefully not hinder Kincaid’s parole. His hearing on that was held Jan. 5, 2017, according to his family members, who had the understanding that the AWIM sentence of 60-90 years was NOT a JLWOP charge. Therefore, state good time rules should apply, cutting 35 years out of that sentence. The state’s OTIS website already indicates his new sentence, showing his earliest release date as Sept. 26, 2013. 

Kincaid’s brother, Waymon Kincaid, a parolable lifer who was a plaintiff in an ACLU lawsuit against the state’s changes to parolable lifer sentencing, is now finally home himself.

Meanwhile, the Court of Appeals has not yet ruled on Worthy’s appeal of Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Morrow’s re-sentencing of Zerious “Bobby” Meadows to 25-45 years, which should have set him free immediately, since he had already served the 45 years. 

Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy

Worthy contends state law requires that the maximum of 60 years is mandatory, while Meadows’ attorney Melvin Houston said, “My client has little else to lose by appealing this matter as the state has already taken his youth.”

Houston has filed extensive briefs which contend that state law does not require a prisoner be sentenced to a maximum of 60 years, as well as citing a Florida case where an appeals court struck down mandatory minimums for juvenile lifers.

VOD covered Meadows’ case earlier, at

Related stories:



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By David Schied

 December 25, 2016

As you know, it has been six months since my last RICO Busters episode. This latest proves even more that the Charter County of Wayne is being operated by domestic terrorists. This video shows more about why I was and continue to be in the federal courts along with The Insurance Company for the State of Pennsylvania and the American Insurance Group (a.k.a. “AIG”) with my own and “14 other joinder” claims against their insurance policy backed by the United States taxpayers guarantee to pay claims against their policy purchased by the Charter County of Wayne at local taxpayer expense. 

At any rate, the video is lengthy but informative and with damning evidence. It also includes a referenced link for others who wish to get involved with claims of their own against that insurance policy. 

As always, I am praying for the wherewithal to continue my line of battling this corruption, hoping it not to take another 6 months before my next video production, done without a budget and while taxing my old computer system. Please donate if you can.  

Please also refer others to my RICO Busters channel with another 18 video productions, located at:

Video above: Cornell Squires’ favorite hymn, “Amazing Grace,” played on sax by friend “Squirrel” during funeral  November 28, 2016. Cornell passed away Nov. 19. VOD’s original story on his death garnered over 1200 Facebook “likes,” attesting to the widespread esteem in which he was held by community members. 

In Loving Memory of Cornell Squires, Consummate Friend, Victim’s Advocate, Legal Peacemaker

By David Schied, Co-founder of RICO-busters

Cornell Squires speaks passionately at Wayne County Commission meeting March 18, 2016 against flood of tax foreclosures destroying Detroit’s neighborhoods.

When I met Cornell for the first time in 2010, he introduced himself to me as an advocate for others seeking justice through legal remedies. The problem both he and I  found was that there was no “justice” to be had in the local, county and state administrative systems of Detroit, Wayne County and  the State of Michigan.

Cornell and I both have shared with one another story after story – life after life, family after family, and home after home – that has been robbed, ripped apart, denigrated, and ultimately destroyed by the corporate-government crime syndicate operating in this region of the country for decades, in full view and with the cooperation of the Office of the U.S. Attorney, the FBI, and the clerical and judicial usurpers operating what is popularly known as the United States District Court.

Cornell continually proclaimed that the Goodness of God was always near and dear, accessible by faith, by prayer, and by the Eternal Will of the Almighty to have His children find the ultimate Peace on Earth with Him. Many times in my moments of doubt and weakness did Cornell take my hands into his, or lead in his words over the phone, as he invoked the presence of God in our lives, to deliver to us His mercy, and to share with us so much of the love with which Cornell Squires brought to us a-plenty.

Cornell speaks against fraudulent tax bills during foreclosure protest at Wayne County Treasurer’s office April 31, 2015.

He worked both selflessly and tirelessly to help others, to advocate for others, to demonstrate with others, and to raise all others above his own level of goodness. Though we had many differences, he was indeed my big brother. He was only a couple of months older than me, but in the face of this unjust society full of greed, corruption, racism, and pure evil, Cornell’s experience and patience were second to none, and light years ahead of mine. He was an unshakable Soul.

County, state and federal courts alike dismissed many of Cornell’s court cases without remedy and without “litigating the merits” on behalf of himself and others. Recently, we together as Private Attorney Generals were dismissed by the same “pattern and practice” of the corrupted United States District Court in Detroit, despite there being over 52 unrebutted sworn and notarized Affidavits of testimony supported by mounds of evidence proving the racketeering and corruption facilitated by  our city, county, state, and federal government functionaries.

U.S. District Court Judge Avern Cohn/Photo: My Jewish Detroit

This last dismissal was by a 92-year old “lifetime employed” federal judge, Avern Cohn. Many other State Bar of Michigan members have been committing treasonous acts of domestic terrorism,  running crime syndicates and protectionist rackets out of our government offices – such as U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade.

They have long owed Cornell and the rest of us financial compensation and their own occupational impeachments. It was only a couple of months ago that Cornell expressed his dismay that while helping someone else report federal crimes by local public officials to the Office of the U.S. Attorney McQuade, he wasn’t even allowed to even enter that office. It had been more than three years since the last time he was rejected from there. He was told by building security that he was on a “list” of those that McQuade did not even want on her office floor.

As a legal peacemaker, Cornell Squires devoted his life to advocating for others and helping people to advocate for themselves in the face of the blatant and widespread corruption and violence being unleashed upon the ordinary residents of Wayne County.

Cornell remained active throughout his life against racist police killings and brutality.

Cornell himself was brutally beaten by Detroit police officer Robert Feld in 1999. His father Eugene Squires intervened and suffered a heart attack which led to his death months later. His son was framed up by former Detroit cop William ‘Robocop’ Melendez, who many years later was finally prosecuted for brutally beating Floyd Dent in Inkster. It was upsetting to Cornell that, thanks to Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy and others working under her on the taxpayer’s dime, the Melendez received only a slap on the wrist and was out of jail in no time.

Cornell was proud to have founded “We The People, For the People” as a nonprofit ministry dedicated toward helping his fellow community members to deal with widespread foreclosure fraud. That fraud was brought about by the unscrupulous tactics of banksters and law firms, including over-taxation by the crooked Wayne County Treasury, bogus recordkeeping by Register of Deeds executives, and dishonest judges helping to facilitate these crimes by a “pattern and practice” of pretending not to notice.

All this and more was exposed by Cornell and others in public protests. I sincerely believe that it was thanks to him, to the Voice of Detroit online newspaper for which he delivered stories, and thanks to his association “We The People, For the People” – and others operating as advocates and activists to put these many white collar criminals into prison – that finally resulted in the FBI being pressured enough to investigate the Wayne County Land Bank.

The People should note that it is no coincidence that the Land Bank is in the very same building that also houses the Wayne County Executive and the Wayne County Corporation Counsel, where the “racketeering” brains of an illegal crime syndicate operate as former law “enforcement” officers and attorneys.

(L to r) Luis and Cecilia Espinoza, with Cornell Squires, point out abandoned, burnt out properties next to their home (at far left) on Detroit’s southwest side. They had paid $16,000 in property taxes since 2011 but were facing foreclosure March 31, 2015. They have five children and little income.

While the mainstream press is willing to buy the oversimplified government story that the suspected reason for the FBI investigation is the contractors’ “spike of demolition costs”, make no mistake that Cornell had notified the feds back in early April and again in September about the county’s criminal scheme of over-estimating the value of homes for the purpose of over–taxation, to entice Wayne County residents into taking new “terms” of refinancing their homes to pay the county’s taxes or face tax foreclosures. This was what the county did against Cornell, except Cornell chose to stay and fight, in an effort to expose this racketeering scheme.

Other community residents have simply given up their homes, pressured by the extortionist tactics used by the county to force them out. So then the “Hardest Hit” federal funding meant to keep people in their homes is used to demolish those homes, to make room for land-developers, financed by lawyers, judges, and the many others partaking in this government “racket,”  to change the face of the neighborhoods with new buildings and new people of “greater worth” (as if some people are worth more than others). And who heads Detroit’s Demolition Task Force–none other than multi-billionaire racketeer Dan Gilbert, owner of Quicken Loans, currently being sued by the U.S. Department of Justice for predatory lending which led to many of these foreclosures. Quicken Loans ranks fifth in numbers of Detroit mortgage foreclosures. 


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Wordfence reports allegations that Russia hijacked U.S. elections are false.

“Our research indicates that the DHS/FBI report actually does not contain any data attributing the attack to Russia.” 

Wordfence says IP addresses included in “Grizzly Steppe” report originated from 61 countries and 389 different organizations with no clear attribution to Russia 

Mark Maunder, CEO of Wordfence

by Mark Maunder   

(VOD note: Voice of Detroit proudly uses the non-partisan Wordfence, a firm associated with Word Press, to guard against hacking. We received this enlightening article in an email from Wordfence.) 

Election Hack Report FAQ: What You Need to Know

On Friday we published an analysis of the FBI and DHS Grizzly Steppe report. The report was widely seen as proof that Russian intelligence operatives hacked the US 2016 election. We showed that the PHP malware in the report is old, freely available from a Ukrainian hacker group and is an administrative tool for hackers.

We also performed an analysis on the IP addresses included in the report and showed that they originate from 61 countries and 389 different organizations with no clear attribution to Russia.

Our report has received wide coverage. Since then I have been interviewed on international network news and by online publications to share our findings. I’d like to provide some clarity both on the FBI/DHS report itself and our findings in the form of an FAQ.

Our business is WordPress security and our customers use WordPress and the Wordfence firewall and malware scanner. Some of this report will be talking directly to our customers, and some of it will be helpful for those interested in security in general and global events.

Table of Contents:

I’m a Wordfence customer who uses WordPress. What do I need to know?

Wordfence detects the PHP malware that is in the report. It also blocks it from being uploaded to a WordPress website. Even before the FBI/DHS released this report, we were blocking this malware.

That is how we found the original source code: By capturing a sample when a hacker tried to upload it to a customer website. The upload occurred before the FBI/DHS report came out. We tracked and logged over 130 unique attempts to upload the specific malware sample the FBI/DHS provided.

The samples the FBI released are old and limited. Wordfence detects thousands of malware varieties that are actively used to attack WordPress websites. We also track a much larger set of IP addresses.

The bottom line is that if you use Wordfence, you are safe from anything in the DHS report that affects your website, and much more.

Does the report prove that Russia Hacked the 2016 US Election?

No it does not. What Wordfence revealed on Friday is that the PHP malware sample that the US government provided is:

  • An old version of malware. The sample was version 3.1.0 and the current version is 3.1.7 with 4.1.1 beta also available.
  • Freely available to anyone who wants it.
  • The authors claim they are Ukrainian, not Russian.

The malware is an administrative tool used by hackers to upload files, view files on a hacked website, download database contents and so on. It is used as one step in a series of steps that would occur during an attack.

Wordfence also analyzed the IP addresses available and demonstrated that they are in 61 countries, belong to over 380 organizations and many of those organizations are well known website hosting providers from where many attacks originate. There is nothing in the IP data that points to Russia specifically.

If I find something in the DHS/FBI report on my website or network, does it mean that Russia hacked me?

No it does not.

This has caused serious confusion already among press and US policy makers. A Vermont electrical utility found a sample of what is in the DHS/FBI Grizzly Steppe report on a single laptop. That laptop was not connected to the Electric Grid network. It was reported as Russia hacking the US electrical grid.

Glenn Greenwald is at right.

Glenn Greenwald has provided some magnificent reporting on this incident and the response from the media and from US senators.

The data in the DHS/FBI Grizzly Steppe report contains “indicators of compromise” (IOCs) which you can think of as footprints that hackers left behind. The IOC’s in the report are tools that are freely available and IP addresses that are used by hackers around the world. There is very little Russia-specific data in the Grizzly Steppe report.

If you find an IOC that is in the report on your network or server, it is unlikely that you have been targeted by Russian Intelligence.

The PHP malware the report provided, for example, is freely available for anyone who wants it. You can even customize it to include your own password to limit access to others. Please see our original report for details. Any attacker can use it to hack your website, not just Russian Intelligence.

Pres. Barack Obama, Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin

The DHS/FBI report also included IP addresses. The owners of IP addresses change from time to time. An IP that was being used by Russian Intelligence today to hack a target may be used by another attacker to hack a different target a few days later. This can happen for several reasons:

A hacked IP can be used by one attacker and then be compromised by a different attacker later on to also launch attacks.

IP addresses change ownership from time to time. A Linode IP may be hacked by Russia and used to launch attacks. Then it may be shut down by Linode, change ownership and the new owner’s site can get hacked. Then that IP address is attacking once again, but the attacker is someone else.

IP addresses are also dynamic if they belong to an internet service provider (ISP). Some of the IP’s in the Grizzly Steppe report do belong to ISP’s. For example we can see IP’s belonging to, a Russian internet service provider. The hostnames are ‘’ which suggests that they are wifi customers. These IP’s are probably dynamic and regularly change hands. They may be used by one attacker today and a different attacker tomorrow.

How did Wordfence determine the malware source, the authors and the version?

Robert McMahon of Wordfence

We received the DHS/FBI report on Thursday. Rob McMahon, one of my colleagues and a security analyst at Wordfence alerted me to its existence at 8pm pacific time on Thursday December 29th. We worked through the night until 7am the next morning when we released the report. Here is what we did:

We read the report and noticed there was a Yara signature for PHP malware. That means that FBI and DHS provided just enough information to identify the existence of PHP malware. It didn’t actually provide the malware itself.

We went into Polestar which is a Wordfence proprietary big-data platform that we have developed to aggregate and mine a large number of attacks from a range of sources. We used the Yara signature to try to determine if anyone has attacked a WordPress site using this malware. At this point we didn’t know what it was or if it was even used against WordPress.

Jackpot! We had captured the entire 20k malware sample!

We extracted the malware sample from Polestar and I handed it to Rob who started analysis on the sample. We divided the work and I went off and analyzed the IP addresses that DHS/FBI had provided in Grizzly Steppe.

Rob realized that most of the malware is encrypted. The way it works is that a hacker will upload it to a website. They access the malware as a web page and are prompted for a password by a small amount of unencrypted code in the malware. They enter the password which is actually a decryption key.

Many Ukrainians are hostile to Russia because Crimea voted to split from the Ukraine and become part of Russia again.

That decryption key is stored in a cookie so the hacker doesn’t have to keep entering it. The key then decrypts the malware code which is executed. Then every time the hacker accesses the malware in future, the key stored in a cookie decrypts the malware so that it can execute. It’s quite clever and makes our jobs harder.

We needed to find the decryption key for the malware. So we went back to Polestar and tried to find an attack that was blocked and logged where the attacker was trying to access the malware they had uploaded.

Jackpot again! We found the key. Rob used the key to decrypt the malware and view the source code. Once he could see the source code, he could see the name of the malware and the version and a few Google searches revealed the source website that it came from.

The rest was much easier. We could now take the malware sample and put it on a sandboxed research environment and actually run it and see what it did. We could also download the newer version of the malware, called ‘P.A.S.’, and execute that to see what it does and how it differs.

This is how we determined that the FBI/DHS report contains an old malware sample that is publicly available and the hacker group that distributes it appears to be Ukrainian. Continue reading

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