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Attorneys hope man imprisoned 31 years for murder will soon be freed

Michigan Department of Corrections

Attorneys for Fredrick Freeman hope he will soon be a free man, after serving 31 years for a murder they say he did not commit.

David Sanders of Proving Innocence says Freeman was convicted because of the incompetence of his defense attorney, and because of prosecutorial misconduct.

Sanders says there was no physical evidence tying Freeman to the 1986 murder, and he had multiple alibi witnesses, including one who testified she was with him at the exact time of the murder.

"He could not have done it because he was more than 450 miles away in Escanaba," says Sanders, "and the murder itself occurred down in Port Huron, Michigan."

Both Freeman and the witness passed a polygraph examination, but Sanders says the prosecutor put a former jail cellmate of Sanders on the stand, and the man testified that Freeman told him he committed the murder.

Later, the former cellmate admitted on video that he committed perjury in exchange for favors from the prosecutor.

Sanders says the prosecutor also speculated during the trial that Freeman could have chartered a private plane in Escanaba, flown to Port Huron, committed the murder, and then flown back to Escanaba in time to be with the witness at the time she said he was with her.

"It's just frankly amazing, when you tell the story to folks, they say, 'Well, with no evidence, and all of these alibi witnesses, how in the heck did he ever get convicted?" says Sanders.

The Michigan Innocence Clinic has also asked Governor Rick Snyder to pardon Freeman, because a pardon could come more swiftly than a ruling from the federal judge.  

Attorneys for Freeman previously asked Governor Jennifer Granholm to pardon Freeman, but she said no.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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