May 4, 2017
Michigan Innocence Clinic client Marwin McHenry has been released from prison following the approval by Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Gregory Bill of a request to vacate the charges against him. The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office and the University of Michigan Law School's Michigan Innocence Clinic jointly filed the request.
"Marwin McHenry lost nearly five years of his life because he was misidentified. The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office deserves much of the credit for ensuring that justice finally prevailed here," said Clinical Professor of Law David Moran, '91, who heads the Michigan Innocence Clinic. "I am very glad Marwin can now start to put his life back together and reconnect with his young son."
McHenry, 25, had been convicted by a jury and sentenced in October 2013 to serve 16 to 27 years in prison on charges of assault with intent to murder, felonious assault, and felony firearm possession. The charges stemmed from a July 2012 shooting as two groups of young women prepared to fight in a Detroit street. The shooting left one woman wounded.
The prosecution's case against McHenry's conviction relied entirely on eyewitness testimony. The shooting victim told the police that she believed the shooter was the brother of one of the women in the other group, but she and two of her relatives identified McHenry's photo when the police showed it to them.
McHenry was convicted even though the defense presented the testimony of a woman who had been on the other side of the fight who identified her own brother, James Bosley, as the shooter. After the verdict, Bosley's mother and another sister testified that Bosley was the shooter, but McHenry's conviction was upheld on appeal.
Bosley himself eventually went to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office and admitted under oath that he was the shooter. An investigator in the prosecutor's office took testimony from additional witnesses who corroborated Bosley's account.
The Michigan Innocence Clinic began investigating McHenry's case in fall 2016. Student-attorneys Sarah J. Precup and Brooke E. Theodora, both third-year clinic and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy had agreed to file a joint request to overturn McHenry's conviction and dismiss the charges, and Judge Bill approved that request on May 1.
"Few student-attorneys have had the chance to open up a case and see it through to exoneration, which is what Sarah and I have experienced with Marwin's case. I feel so lucky to have met him and to have had the opportunity to see the profound effect the Innocence Clinic can have on someone's life," said Theodora.
"I'm so grateful I got to meet Marwin, and to be a part of the team that helped exonerate him," added Precup. "As law students, we spend a lot of time with casebooks and hypotheticals. Meeting Marwin was a much-needed reminder of what makes all the hard work worthwhile."
The Michigan Innocence Clinic, established in 2009, works to free those who have been wrongly convicted and focuses on cases where there is no DNA to test. Marwin McHenry is the 14th client to be freed by the clinic's efforts. Those clients collectively served approximately 180 years in prison before being freed.
Photo caption (left to right): Precup, Moran, McHenry, and Theodora, following McHenry's release from jail on May 3, 2017.
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