A Detroit 23-year-old, who was wrongly convicted of murder as a young teen, will soon be a free man again, prosecutors announced Tuesday, USA Today reports.
Davontae Sanford wrongfully pleaded guilty to killing four people in a drug den on the city’s Northeast side when he was just 14. In 2008 he was convicted and sentenced to 37-90 years in prison for the hit-man-style quadruple homicide. On Tuesday, Wayne County,Mich., Judge Brian Sullivan vacated the conviction.
According to the report, Sanford pleaded guilty to the four counts of second-degree murder after following the recommendation of an attorney, one who has since been suspended from practicing law. Two weeks after Sanford’s sentencing, professional hit man Vincent Smothers confessed to the murders, as well as eight additional killings.
Smothers also submitted an affidavit last year, again admitting to the murders and insisting that Sanford was not involved. However, the then-teen still spent a total of nine years incarcerated.
“No one can give Davontae Sanford and his family back the nine years he has spent in jail for a crime he did not commit, but the court’s decision today corrects a grave injustice,” Heidi Naasko, Sanford’s attorney, said, according to USA Today.
Last month, the site notes, Michigan State Police submitted their findings to Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s office, findings that followed an investigation launched last year.
The findings included an interview with then-Detroit Deputy Police Chief James Tolbert, who contradicted testimony that Sanford had drawn a diagram of the crime scene, with the location of the bodies of the victims, when he was initially questioned in 2007, USA Today reports.
“This called into question Tolbert’s credibility in the case,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
Tolbert went on to serve as chief of the Flint, Mich., Police Department in 2013 before ultimately being fired earlier this year.
“Davontae’s family, friends and supporters knew from the outset that he was innocent and wrongfully convicted,” Sanford’s family said in a statement, according to USA Today. “As the judge’s order confirms, Davontae had nothing to do with these murders. We are grateful to those who have fought for many years on Davontae’s behalf and thankful to soon have Davontae home with us.”
Sanford could be walking free again as early as Wednesday, the site notes.
Read more at USA Today.