We Request You Vacate Michael Politte's Conviction and Discharge Him From Custody
This petition had 6,316 supporters
In the early morning hours of December 5th 1998, this family's world was turned upside down when their mother, Rita Politte, was murdered in their home while her son Michael and Michael's friend Josh slept. Michael was just a child at age 14. Josh was just a child at age 15. Both children had been asleep in the Politte home when they woke up to the smell of smoke. They found Rita, on fire, on the floor of her bedroom. Despite the fact that Michael and Josh both told police that they were asleep and did not know what happened, Michael was arrested 2 days later on December 7, 1998. Josh was not charged with the crime and was not called to testify at Michael's trial.
Since the death of their mother, Michael and his family have found themselves the victims of a flawed Justice System. Although his family and Michael have maintained his innocence, the State still prosecuted him. Michael was unable to grieve his mother because from the time he discovered her burning, he was investigated for the crime. In fact, Michael was only allowed to attend part of his mother's funeral, and had to do so with police escorts in an orange jump suit with hands and feet chained.
Michael's friend Josh was offered immunity to admit he and/or Michael killed Rita. Josh never wavered from his original statement that they had nothing to do with Rita's death. The prosecution later claims to have a confession by Michael, however, that is highly speculative and Michael has always adamantly denied he made any such confession. There is no audio, video, or written documentation by Michael of any such confession. Michael and his family have never wavered on Michael's innocence. Michael turned 15 in March of 1999 and in April of 1999, he was certified as an adult to stand trial as an adult.
Due to the lack of evidence in this case, shortly before the trial, Michael was offered a deal by the Prosecution. Voluntary Manslaughter with a 15 year sentence. Michael declined that offer due to his innocence. Michael's trial started on January 29th 2002 just before his 18th birthday. At trial, the State relied on the allegation that the fire was caused by gasoline and that there was gasoline on Michael's shoes. A later review of this evidence reveals that information to be false. The State also relied on statements made by Michael, for example questions about whether or not police could determine how his mother died, and used these statements against him to argue guilt. Finally, the State alleged that Michael confessed to the crime during an incident at the juvenile detention facility. Michael denies making a confession. Video tapes of the incident were lost by the State prior to trial. Josh was never called to testify by the prosecution or defense, despite the fact that Josh corroborated Michael's version of events. Michael's Public Defender did no investigation of his own and did nothing to dispute the non fact based theory presented by the prosecution. On January 31st 2002, Michael was found guilty convicted of 2nd degree murder by a jury. On April 19th 2002, he was sentenced to Life in Prison.
After the Justice System failed Michael and his family, his ongoing search for the truth and justice led him to the Midwest Innocence Project located in Kansas City, Missouri in 2007. Thankfully, Michael and his family are no longer alone in their fight for justice. Michael and his family are supported by a large community of those who also believe in his innocence, now being led by Tricia Bushnell, Legal Director at the Midwest Innocence Project. They too continue in the search for the truth and justice on Michael and Rita's behalf.
Michael's case is currently being featured on MTV's Unlocking The Truth, a serialized documentary series following prisoners whom are fighting for their freedom. MTV's Unlocking The Truth follows Ryan Ferguson as he investigates cases of possible wrongful conviction. At age 19, Ryan was convicted of a murder he did not commit and finally released in 2013 after serving almost 10 years in prison. Joining Ryan in the search for justice is Eva Nagao, from the Exoneration Project.
Let us not forget that for every innocent person in prison, there is a guilty one out walking our streets. We hope you will join us in Michael's fight for justice. Please SIGN AND SHARE.
If you have any information regarding this case, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
or you can call Midwest Innocence Project at (816) 221-2166
More detailed information on Mike's case, including the case files, can be found on his website coming out in August 2016. http://www.freemichaelpolitte.org/
Letters of Support can be mailed to;
Jefferson City Correctional Facility
Michael Politte #1073549
8200 No More Victims Road
Jefferson City, MO 65101
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