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2 Michigan innocence projects work to clear a man's record

Two Michigan innocence projects have filed a 119-page motion asking the judge that presided over a 2012 perjury case to order a new trial for a 47-year-old St. Joseph County man. The man was sentenced to spend 20 months in prison for allegedly lying about his whereabouts on the night of Nov. 8, 2007 when a young girl was murdered.

During the earlier trial, the man agreed to a deal in which he would plead no contest to perjury in exchange for a reduced sentence. The man has since served his time and now lives in Marcellus.

In this latest motion, the man's attorneys argue that prosecutors in this case relied upon misguided information to obtain a conviction. They noted that the detective in the case had commented that surveillance footage on the night of the crime seemed to contradict the man's alibi about where he reported to be. They hinted that the officer's comments could have adversely impacted the outcome of his case.

The new attorneys also claim that his former lawyer didn't do his due diligence to further analyze the surveillance footage in the case. Prosecutors had originally claimed that the video showed the defendant at Tumble Dam the night she disappeared, when in reality, they were unable to positively identify exactly who could be seen in such footage.

The girl, then a fifth-grader at Riverside Elementary School, had been playing at a friend's house earlier in the evening before she disappeared. Later that night, her mother found her strangled at a cemetery in Constantine Township.

Although the defendant that served time for perjury in this case, he was initially thought to have been responsible for her death, another attempted assault on a 10-year-old girl from White Pigeon ultimately led authorities to suspect another man of her death instead. DNA evidence later linked the new suspect to the Constantine girl's death.

The new, 65-year-old defendant, agreed to enter a guilty plea for the murder of the girl in November of 2015 in exchange for other charges being dropped. He was later sentenced to at least 30 years in prison for the crime.

If you've been charged with a crime you didn't commit, then it may be possible to have your sentence overturned and record cleared. In learning more details about your case, a Detroit, Michigan, wrongful conviction attorney can advise you on the merits of your claim.

Source: MLive.com, "Innocence clinics seek new perjury trial in rape and murder of girl," Emily Monacelli, June 30, 2017

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