Tom, a man of diminished mental capacity, was wrongfully convicted of a rape and murder that occurred in 1983 in Battle Creek, MI. There was no physical evidence in the case, and Tom was convicted on the word of two questionable witnesses. Not only has Tom always maintained his innocence, but even two police officers who investigated the case are convinced of his innocence. So convincing is the evidence of Tom's innocence that Michigan Senator Carl Levin took note and called it "a fairly overwhelming case" of wrongful conviction.
As far back as 1992, a convicted killer imprisoned in Arkansas confessed to committing the crime for which Tom was convicted, but the Calhoun County Prosecutor destroyed crucial DNA evidence that could have been used to tie this killer to the crime. Since that time Tom's case has been heard by many state and federal courts; some have granted him a new trial, only to be reversed by a later court. Tom remained in prison for 20 years after another man confessed to the crime.
Professors Moran and McCormack represented Tom in some of his appeals over the years, and thus had first-hand knowledge of the overwhelming evidence of his innocence. They accepted Tom's case for the Clinic, where student attorneys worked for several months on his clemency petition to Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Out of options in state and federal courts, clemency was Tom's last chance at justice. Just days before her term ended in December 2011, Gov. Granholm commuted Tom's sentence. While it isn't the full pardon the Clinic was seeking for Tom, the commutation did allow Tom to finally be released from prison. Since his release, Tom has made a surprisingly smooth transition into everyday life in the outside world. He uses a cell phone, has learned to garden, and enjoys fishing at the lake near where he lives. He came to speak to the Michigan Innocence Clinic students in Ann Arbor in March 2012. Sen. Levin was on hand to welcome him.
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