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Free Davontae Sanford, sentenced to 39 years for a crime someone else has confessed to.
Davontae Sanford has been in prison for nearly nine years for a crime he did not commit. In 2007, Sanford, a partially blind, developmentally disabled 14-year-old child, was interrogated by police after four people were murdered on Runyon Street in his neighborhood. He was questioned twice without the presence of his parents or an attorney. In the second of his two statements, he implicated himself as one of the shooters, but later “told a psychologist that he had made it all up because the police had told him he could go home if he would ‘just [tell] them something.’” Two weeks after Davontae was convicted of the crime, another man confessed and gave unknown details of the murder and led authorities to one of the murder weapons. However, hitman Vincent “Vito” Smothers was never charged in the quadruple homicide for which Mr. Sanford now wastes away in prison. According to the Marshall Project, although Smothers denied Sanford’s involvement in the murders, prosecutors offered him a shorter sentence for all of the 12 murders he had confessed to if he promised not to testify in Sanford’s defense. What more do officials need to be convinced that this is a horrible miscarriage of justice and that Davontae Sanford should not be behind bars? Please join me in asking Gov. Rick Snyder to grant Sanford clemency and free him from his unjust 39-year sentence. Sanford’s trial lawyer had a long record of incompetence and has since been suspended from practicing in the state of Michigan. For reasons still unknown, Robert Slameka decided not to even challenge Sanford’s confession in court, even though it was clear that his age and disability, and the way it was acquired, should have raised blaring red flags. Vincent Smothers is now serving time for having several murders. After having told police that he was responsible for the crime Davontae was being punished for, he spoke these words in an interview with the Associated Press: “He’s not guilty. He didn’t do it… I understand what prison life is like; it’s miserable. To be here and be innocent – I don’t know what it’s like. He’s a kid, and I hate for him to do the kind of time they’re giving him.” It is shocking that such compassion came from a man responsible for killing a dozen people, while the prosecutor and judge in Davontae’s case seem incapable of the same. Please join me in standing up for justice. Ask Gov. Snyder to do the right thing and grant Davontae Sanford clemency. One day in jail for a crime you did not commit is too long, nine years is a nightmare. Let’s help end Davontae’s nightmare.