Dispatches from the Creation Wars

After nearly ten years in prison, a man convicted of murder in 2000 has been freed from prison and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office is likely to dismiss all the charges against him. Dwayne Provience was convicted on the word of a single eyewitness who has since recanted his testimony and remained in prison until the Michigan Innocence Clinic, a project at the University of Michigan Law School, got involved and won his freedom.

The Innocence Clinic has produced a Youtube video about the incident that explains how they first got involved in the case, how they became convinced that Provience was innocent and how they ultimately managed to convince the court and the prosecutor’s office that the wrong man had been convicted and imprisoned for the crime.

Interestingly, this case does not involve DNA testing. That is the most common manner for exonerating a wrongly convicted person, but in this case there was no DNA to test. But even without that powerful evidence, the clinic uncovered massive problems in the investigation and trial record and were able to prove that Provience had been railroaded.

A press release from the clinic details some of the problems:

On March 24, 2000, Rene Hunter was shot to death in broad daylight at the corner of Greenfield and Pembroke in northwest Detroit. At least seven people, including an off-duty police officer, witnessed the murder. Nearly all of them saw two black men in a grey Chevy Caprice fire multiple shots at Hunter, and then take off northbound on Greenfield Road.

Three months later police picked up a drug addict named Larry Wiley on a breaking and entering charge. While in custody, Wiley offered police a break in the Hunter murder. He claimed to have been present at the scene of the crime.

Unlike the other eyewitnesses who saw the killers in a grey four-door Chevy Caprice, Wiley said the shooters were in a beige two-door Buick Regal. Unlike the other eyewitnesses who saw the murderers flee northbound on Greenfield Road, Wiley said they went westbound on Pembroke Avenue. And unlike eyewitnesses who heard multiple gunshots, Wiley heard just one. He told the police Dwayne and his brother De-Al Provience were the shooters.

Prosecutors put Wiley on the stand to tell his tale. He was the only witness to implicate Dwayne Provience and his brother De-Al. None of the other seven eyewitnesses were called by Dwayne’s lawyer, who has since been disbarred. Prosecutors argued Dwayne and De-Al Provience killed Hunter to protect their drug turf. De-Al was acquitted by the judge while Dwayne, whose case was tried to a jury instead of the judge, was convicted and sentenced to 30-60 years behind bars.

That single witness has since recanted and passed a polygraph. He is in the Youtube clip explaining why he lied on the stand after being picked up for a drug offense. Here’s the video: