Wrongfully Convicted Man Walks Free After Nine Years

It took justice system quite long to acquit Davontae Sanford.

As early as on May, 9, 2016, Davontae Sanford is supposed to be released from prison and be cleared of all murder charges. He was put to prison as a teenager and he will be leaving it as an adult.

In 2008 Davontae followed a “prompt recommendation” of his attorney and pleaded guilty to the charges of quadruple murder. It didn’t strike anyone that the alleged murderer was developmentally impaired, partly blind and was found standing not far from the crime scene. Though to dispel all doubts then-Detroit Deputy Police Chief James Tolbert said in an interview that Sanford made a complete description of it including the positions of the victims.

Davontae was given 37 to 90 years and he would have had to serve this time, but another man, a professional hit man Vincent Smothers confessed to committing the same crimes and pro bono attorneys with Northwestern’s Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth and the Michigan Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan Law assisted in clearing Davontae of all charges.

This story has a happy end: Sanford’s former attorney has been suspended from practice, Detroit Deputy Police has suffered serious damage to his reputation, Donatae is looking forward to reuniting with his family, but still nobody can give him nine precious years of his life back and the problem of mass incarceration of black youth is not gone.

“Here, a 14-year-old kid confessed to a crime he did not commit only after he had been interrogated repeatedly over the course of two days without an attorney, or even a parent, present,” David Moran, director of the Michigan Innocence Clinic, said in a statement. “His confession made little sense and got more wrong than right.”

“The justice system took many years to acknowledge the complete breakdown that allowed for Davontae to sit in prison for nine years,” Morgan added.

This case shows how rotten the system is at all levels, because police still prefer to find a helpless innocent guy, force him into a plea and call him a murderer just because he is black.

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