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Governor won't commute sentence of man who may be innocent of murder

Fred Freeman (aka Temujin Kensu)
(Michigan Department of Corrections)
Fred Freeman (aka Temujin Kensu)

Governor Jennifer Granholm has refused to commute the life sentence of a man who insists he was wrongly convicted of killing another man in Port Huron in 1986. The case involves the Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School.   

A spokeswoman for the governor says Granholm was following the recommendation of the state parole board when she denied Temujin Kensu’s request to have his prison sentence commuted.  Kensu was convicted of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of a man who planned to marry Kensu’s former girlfriend.    

But questions about evidence in the case have raised serious doubt about Kensu’s guilt.  Kensu has always maintained that he was in the Upper Peninsula at the time of the killing.   

He has the support of the Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan law school, as well as former Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Brennan. In October, a federal judge vacated his conviction and said he deserves a new trial.   Kensu remains in prison while the state appeals.

The Flint Journalprofiled Kensu's efforts to win his release:

Kensu has been close before. In 1990, 1995 and 2004, he believed he was close to getting released by having his conviction overturned, but was disappointed when the attempts were unsuccessful. So he waits.