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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

False Confession Appeal Rejected by the Michigan Supreme Court

Davontae Sanford in better times.
This blog ran a post detailing the plight of young Davontae Sanford back in 2012.  At age 17, Sanford was sentenced, based on his confession, to 37-90 years on 4-counts of second-degree murder for the 2009 Runyon Street shootings in Detroit.

It is widely accepted that his was a false confession and that the real murderer was Detroit hit-man Vincent Smothers, who also confessed to the same crimes; he has repeatedly stated Davontae had nothing to do with the quadruple-murders.

The consequence of Sanford's [false] confession to the Runyon murders was that the DPD ignored the hit man's detailed confession to the same dirty deeds.  They had their man on the Runyon murders [Sanford], and "that-was-that."

According to Sanford's trial transcript, Wayne Circuit Judge Brian Sullivan pushed both sides to produce a plea agreement.  Sanford's plea to second degree murder, in hindsight, may have been rational given Judge Sullivan's comments at his sentencing hearing that, had he not pled, Sanford would have been convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to "the bullet", i.e. life in prison, no parole.

The young man's appeal was decided in his favor last year when the Michigan Court of Appeals remanded his case back to the Wayne County Circuit Court, vacating the lower court's denial of his motion to withdraw his guilty plea, and instructing the lower court to consider expert witness testimony relative to false confessions.  The Court of Appeals also ruled that the hit man, Smothers, could testify at Sanford's remand hearing.

Well, now the Michigan Supreme Court has gone and reinstated the lower court order denying Sanford's request to withdraw his guilty plea.  The High Court held out one last thin straw of hope to Sanford: its order does not prejudice Davontae's right to file what in our industry is known as a 6.500 moition; the last chance "hail Mary" for a convicted felon.

So now it's on to the 6.500 motion; perhaps the judge presiding over the matter in the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice will decide to hear from the experts on the topic of false confessions; perhaps the judge will want to hear from the Detroit Hit Man about these murders.

Either way, Davontae has wasted away in the MDOC for the past five-years for a crime most believe he did not commit.  We here at the Law Blogger need to believe that, despite his false confession, his is a soul worth saving...

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