All charges against a Detroit man were dropped Thursday after he spent some 25 years in prison.
According to the Associated Press, Desmond Ricks long accused police of pinning a murder on him by seizing his mother’s gun and switching bullets in the case.
An analysis of two bullets from the victim showed that they did not match the gun that was given as the murder weapon at Ricks’ 1992 trial, where he was accused of shooting a friend outside a local restaurant and sentenced to at least 32 years in prison.
“I hope you enjoy your newfound freedom,” Judge Richard Skutt told Ricks at the close of the hearing Thursday.
According to AP, Ricks, now 51, hugged and shook hands with his legal team, made up of mostly lawyers and students from the Innocence Clinic at University of Michigan’s law school. They were the ones who, in 2016, asked the judge to revisit the case after photos of the two bullets taken from the victim, Gerry Bennett, did not resemble the bullets that were examined by a gun expert before Rick’s original trial.
The bullets taken from Bennett were still in police storage, and the tests done within recent weeks proved that they did not match the gun that Ricks’ mother owned in 1992.
“I don’t have time to be angry or mad,” Ricks told reporters outside court. “I just want to live.”
As AP notes, Ricks will likely be able to benefit from a new Michigan law that awards the wrongly convicted some $50,000 for each year of imprisonment.
David Moran, director of the Innocence Clinic, called the police conduct in the case “criminal,” but no retired officers can be pursued for justice because too many years have passed, the newswire notes.
Moran added that the state police should revisit more cases that were handled by the Detroit police gun lab before it was closed in 2008 because of shoddy work.
“If it happened once, it would be very surprising if there’s not a lot of other cases like it,” he said.