Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Louis Wright

Other Michigan exonerations with false or misleading forensic evidence
In the early morning hours of January 18, 1988, a man broke into a home in Albion, Michigan and sexually assaulted an 11-year-old girl. The girl was taken to the hospital where a sexual assault kit was prepared.

Later that day, an Albion police officer who lived a block from the girl’s home reported that he had seen 29-year-old Louis Wright standing in front of his house about five hours before the attack. That afternoon, Wright, who lived about a half-mile away, voluntarily came in for questioning.

He was arrested that day after a police officer said that Wright had confessed to the crime. The interview was not recorded.

The victim was never asked to view any lineup containing Wright or participate in any other identification procedure.

Wright’s defense attorney was provided with Michigan State police crime laboratory reports in February 1988. Those reports said that Albion police had found boot prints outside the victim’s home. Plaster casts were made of the prints. While a police report said that boots Wright was wearing at the time of his arrest were “identical” to the boot prints found at the crime scene, the crime laboratory report said that the “casts could not have been made by the suspect’s boots.”

Another Albion police report said that a detective attempted to collect fingerprints from the exterior and interior of the victim’s residence, but was unable to get any prints. However, the crime laboratory reported that a fingerprint was found on a telephone base/charger that the attacker had touched, and that Wright was excluded as the source of that print.

On September 30, 1988, a hearing was held before Calhoun County Circuit Court Judge Stephen Miller on a motion by Wright’s defense attorney, Virginia Cairns to suppress Wright’s statement.

Detective Lou Mueller testified that the interrogation of Wright lasted less than an hour. Mueller said that Wright was read his Miranda warnings and signed an acknowledgement that he had been read the rights. When Mueller began questioning Wright about the crime, Wright became angry, Mueller said.

Mueller said that he gave Wright some details of the crime, Wright “became quite upset—irate, and yelled, ‘I did—you know—I did it. Do what you have to do. Lock me up.’”

Mueller added, “At which time, I did.”

Wright testified and asserted that Mueller had promised leniency if Wright admitted to the crime. Wright said Mueller “promised…if I didn’t confess to the crime, they was [sic] going to make sure I would never step on the streets of Albion again.”

Mueller was recalled to the witness stand, and denied promising leniency or making threats during the interrogation.

Judge Miller then denied the motion to suppress the statement. At that time, Wright then entered a plea of no contest to charges of criminal sexual conduct and breaking and entering. The plea allowed him to maintain his innocence, but acknowledged the prosecution had evidence sufficient to convict him.

On October 24, 1998, at his sentencing, Wright angrily attempted to withdraw his plea and demanded a trial. He maintained he was innocent. He said the judge’s sentence would be a “death sentence.”

Judge Miller denied Wright’s motion to withdraw his plea and sentenced him to 25 to 50 years in prison.

In 2021, the Cooley Innocence Project at Cooley Law School received a federal grant to support reinvestigation of cases in which unreliable forensic evidence played a role in a wrongful conviction. Through a collaboration with the Michigan Attorney General’s Office Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU), DNA testing was performed on the sexual assault kit.

The testing excluded Wright as the source of the biological evidence.

On November 3, 2023, Wright was released on bond. He had spent more than 35 years in prison. On November 9, 2023, the CIU filed a motion agreeing to vacate and dismiss Wright’s convictions.

The motion said, “New evidence demonstrates that Louis Wright was not the perpetrator of the crimes and was not an accessory or accomplice to the acts that were the basis of the conviction. The People believe there is clear and convincing evidence establishing the Defendant's innocence.”

“In 1988, there was no credible evidence pointing to Mr. Wright,” said Marla Mitchell-Cichon, a Cooley law professor and attorney for Wright. “Mr. Wright’s false confession led to a no contest plea and decades of incarceration.”

In January 2024, the state of Michigan awarded Wright $1,750,000 in state compensation.

– Maurice Possley

Report an error or add more information about this case.

Posting Date: 12/6/2023
Last Updated: 1/12/2024
Most Serious Crime:Child Sex Abuse
Additional Convictions:Burglary/Unlawful Entry
Reported Crime Date:1988
Sentence:25 to 50 years
Age at the date of reported crime:29
Contributing Factors:False Confession, False or Misleading Forensic Evidence, Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:Yes