Detroit Man Set Free From Prison After 25 Years Of Innocence

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"Justice prevailed," wrongfully-accused former prisoner Desmond Ricks said to The Associated Press of his overturned conviction from a trial in 1992.

A man who was wrongfully accused of second-degree murder is walking out of prison in Wayne County, Michigan, after 25 years. 

"I'm not bitter," Desmond Ricks, 51, told The Associated Press. "I'm not angry. I'm just relieved."

In 1992, Ricks was convicted for the killing of Gerry Bennett outside of a burger restaurant in Detroit. Ricks was near Bennett when he was shot in the head. Ricks reportedly ran away to avoid being killed himself.

It appears that police framed him, however, by taking Ricks' mother's gun and using it as false evidence. 

In 2009, after 17 years behind bars, Ricks wrote a letter to independent firearms expert David Townshend, who played a role in the 1992 trial. In the note, Ricks asked him for help.

Townshend remembered the bullets given to him for inspection were in seemingly unscathed shape with no trace of hair, bone, or blood.

According to the Innocence Clinic Director at the University of Michigan law school, Townshend is "a hero."

"He was willing to put his reputation on the line," David Moran said.

The Innocence Clinic pleaded for the reopening of the case in 2015 after prosecutors turned in pictures of the two bullets extracted from Bennett.

One of the bullets was not matched with the gun police claimed was used to kill Bennett — Ricks' mother's. The other bullet was too deformed for proper analysis. 

Conclusively, there was no connection between the shooting and Ricks, and the Wayne County prosecutor's office agreed to throw out the conviction. In all likelihood, a second trial will not happen.

The crime lab responsible for analyzing the bullets was shut down in 2008 for a careless audit on gun traces.

"What [Ricks] was saying seemed to be outlandish: The Detroit police crime lab would not only make mistakes but switch bullets," Moran said. "It wasn't outlandish; it was true. This outlandish conduct cost Desmond Ricks 25 years." 

And now, Ricks is entering society again.

"I want to get a job," he said. "I want to pay taxes. I just want to be a normal citizen."

Based on this tragic case, one has to wonder: How many other innocent American prisoners want to be normal citizens, too?

Banner/thumbnail credit: Flickr user William Clifford

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