2 men cleared of 2002 murder, victims of police misconduct
DETROIT (AP) — Two Detroit-area men who served nearly 20 years in prison for murder are free after prosecutors asked a judge to erase their convictions due to police misconduct.
Kevin Harrington and George Clark were convicted of a fatal shooting in Inkster in 2002.
The Wayne County prosecutor’s office said it took a fresh look at the case and “found a disturbing pattern of behavior from the original lead detective that involved threatening and coercing a number of witnesses.”
Harrington and Clark “did not receive a fair trial,” the prosecutor’s office said Thursday, after a review by Valerie Newman’s conviction integrity unit.
Prosecutors declined to publicly identify the detective because he will be investigated.
Harrington was released from prison Tuesday. Clark was granted bond by a federal judge on April 8 after Newman said a dismissal was possible. Clark was fighting to undo his conviction by making constitutional claims in federal court.
He was fortunate to get out of Lakeland prison: There have been at least 208 coronavirus cases and eight deaths there. Harrington was at a prison in Macomb County, which has reported 84 cases and four deaths.
“An actually innocent person may now be confined at Lakeland Correctional Facility and exposed to prison conditions that promote the spread of COVID-19,” U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts said on April 8.
Roberts said a woman identified by police as a key witness in the fatal shooting of Michael Martin had “recanted multiple times.”
Harrington was represented by the University of Michigan law school’s Innocence Clinic. Attorneys from the Jones Day firm in Columbus, Ohio, represented Clark.
“Our criminal justice system fails society when the police fabricate and hide evidence to grease the skids for a conviction,” said Detroit-area attorney Wolfgang Mueller, who is representing the men in an effort to get financial compensation from the state and others.
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