In September 1981, two men attempted to rob James Connelly and Van David Nolf in Detroit, Michigan. When Connelly and Nolf fled, the robbers opened fire and Connelly was killed.
Nolf, who is white, gave a description of the robbers to police and was shown a number of photos. He identified 22-year-old Dwight Love as one of the robbers. Love, who is black, had been included in the photo show-up because he lived near the scene.
Nolf also identified Love in a lineup, despite the fact that Love differed from the description of the attackers Nolf had previously given police. Nolf’s identification was the only evidence against Love.
Love claimed to have been sleeping in his apartment with his girlfriend at the time of the shooting, but his girlfriend failed to support his alibi.
In 1982, a jury convicted love of first-degree murder and felony assault. He was sentenced to life in prison.
After Love’s conviction, Dannelle Fisher, who was in prison for life for another murder, confessed to killing Connelly and implicated another man as his accomplice. Fisher said that Love was not involved.
Police reopened the investigation, but did not believe Fisher’s claim and failed to follow up on his information. Love’s attorney petitioned for a new trial on the basis of this new evidence, as well as evidence that the police may have pressured Love’s girlfriend to rebut Love’s abili, and that police withheld a file full of reports from witnesses claiming to have seen the killers or to know who had committed the murder, none of which implicated Love.
In 1997, the trial court granted Love a new trial. Love was initially released, then forced to return to prison as prosecutors appealed the ruling, and released again in 1998. Though the prosecution sought to retry Love, the trial court dismissed the charges in February 2001.
In January 2014, Love passed away in Detroit.
- Stephanie Denzel