August 17, 2018
The Wayne County Circuit Court granted a new trial to Michigan Innocence Clinic (MIC) client Mubarez Ahmed on August 15. Ahmed was wrongfully convicted of two murders in 2002 and has been incarcerated for 16 years. A bond hearing is currently scheduled for early September.
Ahmed was convicted of the September 2001 murders of Lavelle Griffin and LaTanya White. The victims were murdered when the driver of a red car pulled up alongside their car and opened fire. Police quickly arrested Ahmed, who is Arab-American, after receiving an anonymous tip rather than following up on an eyewitness account that the shooter was a light-skinned black man or Hispanic. Immediately after Ahmed's arrest, the eyewitness picked him in a live lineup.
Many years later, the eyewitness revealed that the detective in charge of the case had instructed the eyewitness to select Ahmed just before the lineup. The eyewitness's selection of Ahmed was the only evidence in the case against him. The defense moved before trial to suppress the lineup identification on the grounds that the anonymous tip alone was not enough to justify Ahmed's arrest. The judge denied the motion.
The MIC investigated Ahmed’s case for eight years before filing a post-conviction motion in October 2017. During its investigation, the MIC uncovered false testimony by a police detective during the suppression hearing, and found two new witnesses, both of whom signed affidavits that another man had bragged about committing the murders. The other man, known as "Little Jay," is a light-skinned black man who was in prison for committing a similar execution on behalf of the same drug dealer upon whose territory Lavelle Griffin had encroached.
In January 2018, the Wayne County Prosecutor's Conviction Integrity Unit—newly created in 2017 to examine cases of potential wrongful conviction—agreed to do its own investigation and found additional information supporting Ahmed's innocence. The unit concurred that Ahmed's 2002 murder convictions could not stand and agreed to support the MIC's motion for a new trial.
More than 20 MIC students have worked on the case since 2018, as well as private investigator Scott Lewis, who donated countless hours of his time help put together the many pieces of this case. The MIC, established in 2009, works to free those who have been wrongly convicted and focuses on cases where there is no DNA to test. Eighteen clients have been freed to date by the clinic's efforts. Fifteen clients have been fully exonerated.
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