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Derrick Bunkley

Other Michigan Attempted Murder Cases
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At about 11:50 p.m. on May 3, 2014, 51-year-old Paris Ainsworth parked her car outside her home at 15423 Beaverland in Detroit, Michigan. Seeing two men approaching on foot, she took out her .45-caliber pistol and put it in her jacket pocket.

When she turned to go into her home, one man standing six or seven feet away confronted her, saying, “Don’t pull it” and then shot her in the abdomen. She pulled out her pistol and shot back. In the ensuing gunfire, she was struck four times—three times in the side and once in the hand. When police arrived, she said both men had shot her and she thought she had wounded one of them.

Ainsworth was taken to Sinai Grace Hospital where she told police that one gunman was a black man with a dark complexion in his 20’s, about 5 feet, 7 inches tall, and weighed 200 pounds. The other man had a caramel complexion, also in his 20’s, was about 5 feet, 3 inches tall and had a medium build.

At about 2 a.m. Charles Knox, Sr., was brought to the emergency room of the same hospital. He had been shot twice in the leg.

Police concluded that Knox was the man that Ainsworth had wounded and when Knox’s son, 22-year-old Derrick Bunkley, arrived to check on his father’s condition, Bunkley became a suspect in the shooting. Police showed Ainsworth a photographic lineup containing Bunkley’s photograph and she identified him as one of the gunmen.

Bunkley was charged with assault with attempt to murder, illegal possession of a weapon and carrying a concealed weapon—although no weapon was ever found and no forensic or physical evidence connected Bunkley to the crime.

Knox, who claimed he had been shot during a drug transaction several miles away from the crime, was never charged—which was not surprising since he was 47 years old—twice the age of Ainsworth’s description of the gunmen.

Bunkley, when confronted by police after Ainsworth identified him, said that at the time of the crime he had been at his mother’s home at 16260 Hartwell, Detroit, more than five miles from where Ainsworth was shot.

“The lady is wrong. Please check my Facebook page,” Bunkley told police. “I was on Facebook.” He provided the officers with his username and password and said he was taking photos of himself and his brothers inside his mother’s home. However, the password didn’t work and police did not investigate further.

In September 2014, Bunkley went to trial in Wayne County Circuit Court. While the jury was being selected, his mother, Takynika Bunkley, provided a password that did work to Police Investigator Latonya Moses after Takynika said that her son was at her home at the time of the crime and that he had taken photographs at her home and uploaded them to his Facebook page.

Moses would later testify that she initially saw no activity on May 3, 2014, the day of the crime. The photos had time stamps of 12:45 a.m. on May 4—about an hour after the crime. Moses testified that she left to find to find a printer to print the photos and when she found a printer 15 minutes later, she noticed that the time stamp had changed to say May 3, 11:45—an hour earlier and about the time of the crime.

Moses testified that she was “Facebook savvy” because she used Facebook and had three children who used Facebook. She told the jury that a Facebook user can easily manipulate the time stamp of a photograph. Moses said she believed that Takynika was the only person who had the log-in information to make such a change.

Ainsworth testified and identified Derrick as one of the two gunmen and said he was the one who told her not to pull her own weapon. However, in her initial account to police, Ainsworth described that gunman as the one who was only about 5 feet 3 inches tall.  Bunkley was 5 feet, 8 inches tall.

Taynika testified that she came home on the night of the crime at about 10:40 p.m. and that Derrick was playing video games with his brothers. She said he was still there at 1 a.m. when he received a phone call and left, saying his father had been shot.

During cross-examination, the prosecution suggested that Taynika had manipulated the time stamp on the Facebook photo—moving it to an hour earlier—while Moses was searching for a printer.

Moses testified that police tried to obtain the bullets from Knox’s legs, but were unsuccessful. Records showed that the wounds Knox suffered were through and through and no bullets were recovered at the hospital. She also said no gunshot residue tests were performed on Bunkley because the tests were too expensive.

On September 17, 2014, the jury convicted Bunkley of assault with intent to commit murder, illegal use of a weapon and carrying a concealed weapon. He was sentenced to 17 to 32 years in prison.

On appeal, Bunkley’s attorney, Doug Baker of the State Appellate Defender Office, requested that the case be remanded to the trial court for a hearing following a reinvestigation of the case by Baker, SADO investigator Linda Borus and SADO website administrator Eric Buchanan. They determined that Bunkley’s trial lawyer had failed to do any forensic investigation of Bunkley’s cell phone, which Bunkley had used to access and post photographs to Facebook.

Baker noted that during the trial, the defense attorney admitted he knew little about computer technology or cell phones. “I have to admit…I am totally computer illiterate. I can barely get my email,” the lawyer said.

The defense obtained the records of Bunkley’s cell phone as well as Knox’s cell phone and Buchanan used the records to determine locations of cell towers that those two phones accessed at the time of the crime. Buchanan created a map showing that the two phones accessed towers miles away at the time the crime occurred.

Further investigation showed that Bunkley’s cell phone was set in a time zone one hour ahead of the Eastern Standard Time zone, which is where Michigan is located and that in fact the photographs were taken between 11:40 and 11:44 p.m., just as Bunkley said.

On February 19, 2016, the defense motion for a new trial was granted. The prosecution then dismissed the charges and Bunkley was released. In May 2016, Bunkley filed a federal civil rights lawsuit seeking damages.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 2/25/2016
Last Updated: 8/17/2017
State:Michigan
County:Wayne
Most Serious Crime:Attempted Murder
Additional Convictions:Gun Possession or Sale, Illegal Use of a Weapon
Reported Crime Date:2014
Convicted:2014
Exonerated:2016
Sentence:17 to 32 years
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:22
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No