In 2012, James Terrell Shepherd, 33, was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder and second-degree murder for the shooting death of Jesus Cabrera. Shepherd was released from prison April 6, 2016 after the Michigan Court of Appeals overturned his conviction in December 2015.
Shepherd, who was working when the shooting took place, spent four and a half years in prison before finding freedom. He is now suing the city of Flat Rock and former police lieutenant Jeffrey Metz, seeking $10 million in damages. The lawsuit accuses the ex-officer of lying and omitting key evidence in order to secure an arrest warrant.
Shepherd’s employer at the time verified to Metz that Shepherd was indeed working at the time of the murder. Metz never mentioned to the judge that Shepherd’s alibi had been solidly verified and Flat Rock police chose not to make a report of their interview with Shepherd’s employer. Metz also neglected to document a written report of the cellphone records analysis which revealed that Shepherd was nowhere near when the crime was committed.
Another key fact that lead to Shepherd’s vacated conviction and eventual lawsuit is the complete lack of physical evidence linking him anywhere near the scene of the crime. In addition, the sole eyewitness for the case specifically told the police that Shepherd was not one of the two men they saw enter the apartment building just before Cabrera’s death.
Shepherd equates his time in prison to “hell on earth.” To get himself through, he dedicated a lot of his time studying in the institution’s law library working hard to lay the groundwork for an appeal that would eventually be granted.
Wolfgang Mueller, Shepherd’s attorney who is known for being a voice for his clients, helped Shepherd dig into his story and bring to light the law enforcement missteps which lead to his wrongful conviction.