More than 26 years after he was sentenced to three life sentences in connection with three murders he did not commit, a Detroit man was ordered to be freed in December. While the man says he is grateful and holds no anger toward anyone, his case shows how false testimony from police informants can be misused to wrongfully convict innocent people.
A conviction based on false testimony
The man was just 18 years old when a jury convicted him for a triple homicide. The jury’s decision was largely based on an informant and detectives’ testimony — testimony later proved to be untrue. Jurors were also told that the man had confessed to the crimes, but prosecutors now admit that the confession was false.
“There is significant evidence [he] did not commit, participate or have knowledge or involvement in this crime in any way, shape or manner,” an attorney from the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office told the judge at a hearing held to decide whether to exonerate the defendant.
It’s not clear from an article by WXYZ-TV what exactly the informant and officers lied about in the trial. The informant worked closely with police, having testified for the prosecution in more than 20 cases.
The fact that this conviction was overturned may call other convictions the informant was involved with into serious question. It might also require Wayne County prosecutors to look at convictions based on the detectives’ arrests.
Freedom restored after 26 lost years
After the prosecution’s testimony at the December hearing, the judge ordered the conviction overturned. She told the prosecutors that they “saved a life today.” While it’s true that the wrongfully convicted man will not spend the rest of his life in prison, at 44, he has already lived all of his adult years behind bars.
He is now a grandfather but has missed so much of his family’s lives. All because he was denied justice in 1994.