Two Michigan brothers have maintained their innocence through nearly 25 years of their life sentences. Now the men are free, thanks to a chance encounter on Facebook that brought forth new information in the killing of a Detroit drug dealer in 1987.
The men were convicted on the strength of being seen leaving the house where the dealer was shot. Recently however, a witness has come forward to claim that not only were the brothers not at the house, but that he was one of the men seen leaving the house. The new witness claims he wasn't the killer either.
These facts came to light due to a Facebook page for the neighborhood where the crime took place. A discussion about the night of the murder arose and a man came forward to the district attorney with information which contradicted the testimony that put the brothers behind bars. A man who was a teenager at the time of the crime has said in an affidavit that he and his friends were the young men seen fleeing the house -- not the two convicted brothers.
The brothers all along have admitted being in the neighborhood the night of the murder, but have denied visiting the house for a drug deal or murdering anyone. Now, after 25 years and a helpful intervention of social media, the brothers have been released on bond. They must face a new trial to close out the judicial and imprisonment process according to Michigan law.
Cases of mistaken identity and wrongful imprisonment are rare, but often seem to attract a great deal of attention. In the case of these brothers, justice has now been corrected, although the two men lost nearly 25 years of their lives. Were it not for a case of mistaken identity 25 years ago they would not have been imprisoned. Were it not for a recent Facebook discussion, they would not have been freed with the opportunity for a new trial.
Source: CNN, "Brothers 'elated' to be free, thanks to Facebook,' Aug. 17, 2012
Our Lansing criminal defense law firm handles cases such as the one discussed in this post.