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Attorneys for Fred Freeman are still appealing what they call a wrongful conviction, 32 years later

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

The Michigan Innocence Clinic has filed a motion asking the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its recent decision to deny an appeals hearing for Fred Freeman.

Michigan Innocence Clinic attorney Imran Syed says the Michigan man was wrongfully convicted of murder 32 years ago.

He says the case shows how difficult it is to get higher courts to re-examine trial evidence.

"I think it's really sad when you have a really compelling case for innocence that has existed for 30 years," says Syed. "Yet unfortunately some of our procedural rules can make it very difficult to get anyone to focus on the facts of the case. Anybody who reads the facts of this case walks away with, why is he still in prison? Yet 32 years later we have court after court declining to hear the merits of this case."

The Michigan Attorney General's office maintains Freeman was guilty of the murder.  

Freeman was convicted of killing a man in Port Huron. He lived in Escanaba at the time, a six and a half hour drive from Port Huron.

The defense called a number of witnesses who testified that they saw Freeman in Escanaba three hours after the crime was committed.

A witness for the prosecution speculated that Freeman may have hired a plane to fly to Port Huron, have a car waiting for him, drive to the place where the murder occurred, kill the victim, drive back to the plane, and then fly back to Escanaba. 

But no evidence that that actually happened was presented to the jury.

The prosecution presented two witnesses who identified Freeman as the man they saw driving away from the scene of the murder. But Freeman's attorneys say those identifications were based on a photo lineup that made Freeman's photo stand out from the others.

Prosecutors also called a witness who claimed Freeman confessed to the crime while they were in a jail cell together. That witness later recanted, saying he was promised a lighter sentence in return for perjured testimony.

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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