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Dwayne Provience

Other Michigan Cases with Perjury or False Accusations
On the evening of March 24, 2000, 21-year-old Rene Hunter was killed in a drive-by shooting at the intersection of Greenfield Road and Pembroke Avenue in northwest Detroit, Michigan.

Investigators with the Detroit Police Department took statements from seven eyewitnesses: Laneka Jacobs, Dwayne Sturgis, David Coleman, Darryl McKinney, April Anderson, Damon Hicks, and Jannie Halliburton. Six of the eyewitnesses reported seeing an older gray Chevrolet Caprice Classic. Halliburton said she could not identify the make of the vehicle, only that it was old and gray. She also recalled three numbers from the license plate: 7, 3, and 4. All seven eyewitnesses said they saw the vehicle go north on Greenfield Road after the shooting.

The investigation stalled until June 22, 2000 when Larry Wiley was arrested in connection with a series of burglaries. During his interrogation for those crimes, Wiley said that 26-year-old Dwayne Provience had shot and killed Hunter while in a car driven by his older brother, 28-year-old De-Al Provience. Wiley, who panhandled and used and sold drugs, also said that the Proviences were driving a beige Buick Regal that traveled west on Pembroke Avenue after the shooting.

De-Al Provience was arrested on June 22, and Dwayne Provience was arrested on June 25 and charged with a weapons violation and murder in Hunter’s death.

The brothers went to trial together in Wayne County Circuit Court on January 29, 2001. But there was a key difference. Dwayne, who was represented by Reginald Hamilton, chose a jury trial. De-Al chose a bench trial. Judge Timothy Kenny presided over the dual trial.

Halliburton testified for the state and said she was unable to identify the men in the car at the time of the shooting. She also testified about the color of the vehicle she saw and the numbers on the plate, and she said that she had witnessed the passenger in the vehicle open the door and shoot Hunter.

Wiley testified that he had occasionally sold drugs for the Provience brothers and that Hunter was shot over a turf war with the Proviences. Wiley also stated that he was riding his bicycle at the time of the murder and had seen Dwayne Provience shoot Hunter through an open car door. He testified that he heard multiple shots, although in his statement to police he had said he heard only a single shot.

Hamilton did not call any of the other eyewitnesses whose recollection of the shooting—the make of the car and the direction it headed—differed from Wiley’s testimony. Instead, two alibi witnesses testified that they had seen De-Al and Dwayne around the time of the shooting at an office and at a birthday party. Hamilton would have his law license revoked in 2003 for misleading clients and mishandling attorney’s fees.

On February 5, 2001, the jury convicted Dwayne of second-degree murder and possession of a firearm during the commission or attempt to commit a felony. He was later sentenced to between 32 and 62 years in prison. Judge Kenny acquitted De-al Provience.

Provience began a series of appeals, often representing himself. Three times—in 2002, 2003, and 2006—appellate courts rejected his motions for a new trial.

On March 4, 2006, just after the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction, Provience obtained an affidavit from Wiley in which he recanted his trial testimony. In the affidavit, Wiley said he framed the brothers to reduce his exposure to the burglary charges and to avoid paying the Proviences money he owed them.

After obtaining the affidavit, Provience tried unsuccessfully to appeal the Court of Appeals ruling to the Michigan Supreme Court. He then filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

In 2009, Provience submitted his case for review to the University of Michigan Law School’s Innocence Clinic, which agreed to represent him as one of its first clients. The clinic’s legal team included attorneys Bridget McCormack and David Moran, along with law students Latoya Antonio, Nick Cheolas, Brett DeGroff, Robyn Goldberg, Judd Grutman, and Maria Jhai.

Antonio and Grutman searched for Wiley so he could be re-interviewed. They found him by canvassing panhandlers near the highway that ran through the neighborhood where Hunter was killed. Wiley supplemented his 2006 affidavit with a recorded statement that said he was not present at the shooting and that the police fed him information about the crime.

Separately, Jhai found a connection between Provience’s case and the murder of Courtney Irving in April, 2000. Irving was murdered by Eric Woods, a hit man for a drug gang run by the Mosley family. Woods said that the Mosleys wanted Irving dead because they thought he would tell the police that the Mosleys were responsible for Hunter’s murder.

During Woods’s 2003 trial, the state had said that the Mosley brothers had killed Hunter.

When the clinic contacted Detroit Police Officer William Ashford about his case notes for the investigation into Hunter’s murder, he said he could not believe that Provience had been convicted, stating “How on earth did that happen?” Ashford said Provience had not come up during the police department’s original investigation.

DeGroff and Cheolas also discovered a document in the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office from April 26, 2002 that listed vehicles owned by the Mosley family. One of the vehicles was a 1985 Chevrolet Caprice Classic with license plate 7CXM34. A private investigator tracked down the color. It was gray, matching the eyewitness accounts.

Separately, Woods’s mother gave Provience’s legal team a copy of a police department memo written in the spring of 2000, after both Hunter and Irving had been shot to death. Titled “Progress notes,” the document said in part: “These [two] homicide files are joined at the hip, because the two complainants were together when Rene got killed and Courtney was going to tell who and why they killed Rene.” The document outlined the motive for the killings and the likely suspects. This document was never given to Provience’s trial attorney.

Provience’s attorneys filed several motions based on this new evidence. The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office consented to the motions, and on November 3, 2009, Judge Kenny overturned Provience’s conviction and ordered a new trial. Provience was released from prison.

At a hearing the next month, Wiley said that he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and not testify at Provience’s second trial unless he was granted immunity. Judge Kenny referred to the inconsistencies in Wiley’s testimonies as the “recantation of his recantation of his recantation”.

The state argued for using Wiley’s testimony from the first trial at any retrial, but Provience’s attorneys argued against that accommodation, asserting that Hamilton’s cross-examination should be deemed inadequate. Judge Kenny agreed and said that the state could not use Wiley’s original testimony unless he appeared as a witness.

On March 24, 2010, prosecutors dropped the charges against Provience.

In April 2010, Provience filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against the City of Detroit. A panel including two lawyers and a former judge recommended settling the case for $5 million. In July 2013, before the settlement was signed, the City of Detroit filed for bankruptcy. Eighteen months later, after the city emerged from bankruptcy, Provience’s lawsuit was settled for $2 million.

– Madeline Koning

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Posting Date:  Before June 2012
Last Updated: 7/24/2023
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:Weapon Possession or Sale
Reported Crime Date:2000
Sentence:32 to 62 years
Age at the date of reported crime:26
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No