Daily Briefs

Exonerated man to speak at Cooley on 1-year anniversary

On the one-year anniversary of his exoneration, Friday, June 15, 2018, LeDura Watkins will discuss being freed from prison after wrongfully serving 41 years. The WMU-Cooley Innocence Project, which helped exonerate Watkins, will host a discussion: “Life After 41: An Intimate Conversation with LeDura Watkins.”

Watkins, who was convicted of murder in 1976 in Detroit, was released on June 15, 2017, after his conviction was vacated and the charge dismissed. The 62-year-old served 41 years and three months in prison — at that time the longest time spent incarcerated after conviction by any wrongfully convicted defendant prior to exoneration in the United States.

In 2013, the FBI disavowed testimony by their trained analysts, finding they often overstated their conclusions. Detroit Crime Lab analysts, trained by the FBI, had tied Watkins to the crime scene based on a single hair. On January 19, 2017, the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project filed a motion for a new trial. Based on that motion, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office agreed to vacate Watkins conviction and dismiss all charges for the 1975 murder in which he was initially accused.

“Mr. Watkins has shown exceptional drive and character since his release,” said Professor Marla L. Mitchell-Cichon, director of WMU-Cooley’s Innocence Project.  “He is an inspiration to all of us at the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project. Our clients motivate us to uncover every stone to find the truth.”

The discussion will be held at 12 p.m. at WMU-Cooley Law School Center. The discussion is free and open for the public to attend.


Ex-Spartan football players avoid jail in sex assault case

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Three former Michigan State University football players accused in the sexual assault of a woman have avoided jail time after pleading guilty.

Josh King, Donnie Corley Jr. and Demetric Vance were sentenced Wednesday to three years’ probation, as well as sex offender treatment and therapy. They pleaded guilty in April to seducing an unmarried woman, a reduced charge.

They could have been imprisoned for up to five years. Prosecutors recommended no jail time.

A woman says she was assaulted in an apartment bathroom last year. King, Corley and Vance were kicked off the football team when charges were filed and later dismissed from the school.

Karen Truszowski, the victim’s attorney, tells WILX-TV it was best for her client to agree to the plea agreement to avoid a trial.


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