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Crystal Mulherin

Other Genesee County, Michigan exonerations
Shortly before 8 p.m. on September 13, 2021, 50-year-old Thadeus Seldon was shot in the parking lot of a party store at the corner of Davison Road and Lynch Street in Flint, Michigan.

A surveillance camera from a nearby home captured the shooting. It showed a person wearing a black hoodie ride up on a bicycle, get off, and lean it against a utility pole. The person took a drag from the cigarette and tossed it into the grass parkway, then fired several shots.

Police recovered five .40-caliber shell casings as well as a cigarette butt that was half-smoked and still burning when officers arrived. Swabs were taken from the bicycle.

Two days later, police focused their attention on 31-year-old Crystal Mulherin, who was already in the Genesee County Jail on unrelated charges. The day before the shooting, Mulherin and Seldon had gotten into a fight in the parking lot of a gas station across the street from the party store where the shooting occurred. A video of their confrontation had been posted online. In the video, Mulherin took a swing at Seldon, and in response, Seldon grabbed her and hurled her across the parking lot.

On September 15, 2021, Detective Joseph Kennedy questioned Mulherin. The interview was audio-recorded. Although she denied committing the shooting at least 20 times, Mulherin also made statements that were treated as admissions.

At one point, Mulherin said, “If I did do it, I don’t remember I did it…I was drinking.”

“I remember seeing him earlier that day, but I don’t remember going over to Davison Road and shooting him,” she said.

She said she heard about the shooting and went to the scene later that night. She said she was concerned because people in the neighborhood were claiming that she must have been the shooter. In answers that were often rambling and not coherent, Mulherin talked about having had possession of guns in the past.

Kennedy, referring to Seldon by his street name of “ATL,” asked at one point, “So you’re telling me that ATL tried to disarm you?”

“Possibly,” Mulherin said.

“That night, is that why you shot him?” Kennedy asked.

“Yeah,” Mulherin said.

“So you’re telling me that you shot him because he tried to take a gun from you?” Kennedy asked.


“Okay. On the sidewalk?”

“Mm-hmm,” Mulherin said, answering affirmatively.

“Where did you shoot him at?” Kennedy asked.

“By the roadside,” Mulherin said.

Kennedy pressed her. “Like where?”

Mulherin said, “I didn’t say I shot him. I said I would have shot him if he tried to disarm me…I said I would shoot him if that was the case….But I wasn’t over there. I was not down there when he got shot.”

She insisted she did not shoot Seldon and said so more than 20 times.

On September 17, 2021, Mulherin was charged with assault with intent to commit murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

In July 2022, Mulherin went to trial in Genesee County Circuit Court. The prosecution contended that she shot Seldon to avenge the confrontation at the gas station the day before.

The recording of her interrogation by Kennedy, which, the prosecution contended, contained an admission to the shooting, was played for the jury.

Seldon testified and said that Mulherin was the shooter. He said he was walking toward the party store on Lynch Street when he heard footsteps behind him in the grass.

“So I turn around, somebody was in all black. I’m looking and I knew it was her,” Seldon said. “Everybody knew it was her. She didn’t say nothing, she pulled out a gun and started shooting.”

Seldon said the next thing he remembered was waking up in the hospital. He had his left lung removed and spent three weeks hospitalized before his release.

April Thornton testified for the prosecution that she was in the Genesee County Jail at the same time that Mulherin was awaiting trial. Thornton testified that Mulherin admitted to her that she had shot Seldon. According to Thornton, Mulherin was “bragging” that she shot Seldon with a .22-caliber Beretta pistol.

Defense attorney Robert Hinojosa called two witnesses.

Jessica Ramirez, a firearm and tool mark examiner for the Michigan State Police crime laboratory, testified that she had examined the five shell casings recovered at the scene of the shooting. She said that four were .40-caliber shells and had been fired from the same weapon. She said the condition of the fifth casing was such that she could not determine if it was fired by the same weapon. She also testified that the casings could not have come from a .22-caliber Beretta pistol.

Joni Johnson, director of the Michigan State Police crime lab in Lansing, Michigan, testified about DNA testing conducted on the cigarette recovered from the scene. She said that Mulherin was excluded as the source of saliva found on the cigarette.

During closing argument, the prosecution argued that the cigarette was not connected to the crime. The police had not picked up the cigarette that the shooter was seen tossing to the ground in the video, the prosecution contended.

On July 15, 2022, after a four-day trial, the jury convicted Mulherin of assault with intent to commit murder and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. She was sentenced to 17 to 30 years in prison.

The Michigan State Appellate Defender Office (SADO) was appointed to represent Mulherin in her appeal. The opening appeals brief argued, in part, that Mulherin’s trial defense attorney had provided an inadequate legal defense by failing to retain an eyewitness identification expert to testify about the various problems in the case that called into question Seldon’s identification. While the convictions were being appealed, SADO lawyers and prosecutors in the Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office, who were conducting a conviction integrity review of the case, sought DNA testing on the swabs that had been taken from the bicycle ridden to the scene by the shooter.

The tests revealed the profile of a male whose profile was the same as the profile from the cigarette recovered at the scene. The profile was identified as that of a man who was in custody on an unrelated crime.

On January 11, 2024, a joint motion filed by the Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office and Mulherin’s appeals lawyers requested that her convictions be vacated.

“The prosecutor’s office has obtained additional DNA testing that demonstrates that the DNA on the bicycle and the cigarette belong to the same person, whose identity is known to the prosecutor’s office. Again, that person is not Ms. Mulherin,” the motion said.

The motion noted that Mulherin’s defense lawyer at trial had failed to attempt to impeach the testimony of Thornton, the jailhouse informant, with evidence that Thornton had previously been convicted of retail theft on two occasions.

In addition, the motion noted that SADO investigator Angie Jackson had interviewed Maria Jones, a woman who was in the same unit with Thornton. Jones said that Thornton told her that she planned to falsely claim that Mulherin had admitted to the crime. Jones said that Thornton tried to enlist her to testify similarly. According to Jones, Thornton said she hoped that by testifying for the prosecution, she could get released.

On January 22, 2024, Mulherin’s convictions were vacated, and the charges were dismissed.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said he expected the man whose DNA was found on the bicycle and the cigarette would be charged with the crime.

“I feel badly for Ms. Mulherin,” Leyton said during a press conference announcing the dismissal of the case. “She has been convicted for more than a year, when she should not have been.”

SADO Special Assistant Defender Tabitha Harris said, “I appreciate that the prosecutor’s office worked with us to exonerate Ms. Mulherin. Going forward, I would like to see more scrutiny by prosecutors of all the evidence available in cases they take to trial. Wrongful convictions harm communities, and it’s often easier to convict someone than it is to exonerate them. Fortunately, it didn’t take years to prove Ms. Mulherin’s innocence.”

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 1/31/2024
Last Updated: 1/31/2024
Most Serious Crime:Attempted Murder
Additional Convictions:Illegal Use of a Weapon
Reported Crime Date:2021
Sentence:17 to 30 years
Age at the date of reported crime:31
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID, False Confession, Perjury or False Accusation, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:Yes