Quadruple Murder Conviction Dismissed
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.
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 Michigan Court of Appeals remanded Davontae's 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.
Then Davontae received some bad news last year when the Michigan Supreme Court 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 did not prejudice Davontae's right to file what in our industry is known as a 6.500 motion; the last chance "hail Mary" for a convicted felon.
In this case, the hail Mary worked when Judge Sullivan ordered Sanford released after hearing the new evidence brought to light in Sanford's 6.500 motion. The case is an example of the long tortured path a case must weave in order to undo a wrongful conviction.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy is expected to give a press conference this morning concerning the wrongful prosecution and conviction.