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Murder charges dropped after brothers spent 25 years in prison

A pair of Michigan brothers wrongfully convicted of murder in 1988 has been freed after 25 years when new evidence emerged last year.

The two men, now in their 40s, were convicted in connection to the 1987 murder of a 65-year-old man in his Detroit home. However, a pair of witnesses to the slaying did not testify at the trial, and finally came forward last year.

The witnesses told authorities that the killers were African American-- the convicted men are white. One witness said that he did not tell authorities at the time because he was scared to get involved, and that he did not find out that the brothers had been convicted until years later.

After hearing the new testimony in summer of 2012, a judge ordered a retrial.  The brothers were allowed to leave prison on bond, but they have lived the last year with a second trial hanging over their heads.

The new trial was set to begin last week, but the Wayne County prosecutor decided not to try the men again. The judge formally dismissed the charges against them, and bade them good luck in their lives as free men.

It is unusual for a case this old where DNA is not the basis of exoneration.  Although they have lost 25 years of their lives, the brothers' attorney said it is unlikely there will be a civil suit to compensate them since there is no indication authorities hid evidence.  This is a very unfortunate case where crucial eyewitnesses failed to come forward with exculpatory evidence at the time of trial.

Source: The Associated Press, "Charges against Michigan brothers dropped 25 years after murder," Sept. 26, 2013

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