On January 30th, the AP reported, “Smothers said he never used a 14-year-old accomplice – blind in one eye and learning disabled – to carry out his paid hits, mostly victims tied to Detroit’s drug trade.”
It wasn’t Vincent Smothers’ fault that Detroit police arrested Davontae Sanford instead of him and/or his accomplice for the grisly Runyon Street quadruple homicide, or Smothers’ fault the police coerced a false confession from Davontae.
It wasn’t Smothers’ fault that Wayne County prosecutors ran with Davontae’s wildly improbable (impossible?) confession, and got the kid convicted, or Smothers’ fault that those prosecutors ignored his confession to those four homicides while he confessed to eight others.
It wasn’t Smothers’ fault that the judge found ways to keep Davontae’s false conviction intact; unwilling to accept anything already of record, unwilling to accept Smothers’ attorney’s testimony. For no reason that furthered justice, the judge indicated he would only accept Smothers re-incriminating himself on the stand, setting himself up for more hard time.
The police, prosecutors and judge – incapable of doing so themselves – didn’t expect Smothers to man-up. But I did, and I expect that Davontae’s family did. Because the guilty manning-up isn’t all that unusual.
Jerry Wayne Johnson tried to free Timothy Cole, who was serving time for one of Johnson’s rapes. The petition Johnson prepared to have a court-appointed attorney walk him through the process of admitting to the rape was marked Cause Number 95-550, labeled a civil matter, and buried, even though one of the copy holders was the District Attorney’s Office. Cole died of an asthma attack in prison, and was exonerated posthumously.
There are going to be more like Jerry Wayne Johnson and Vincent Smothers coming forward. And if public servants and the media ignore their confessions, they’ll come forward through bloggers, and force the media’s hand.
The guilty who have innocents serving their time are America’s Most Powerful People. They alone can expose how commonplace conviction corruption is. They alone can prove how well crime pays when it’s public servants committing the crimes. They alone can force the FBI and DoJ into investigating and prosecuting the ice-hearted police, prosecutors and judges that don’t care if the wrong person is behind bars, a person that hasn’t the street smarts to survive prison.
God bless Vincent Smothers, God bless Jerry Wayne Johnson, and God bless every other criminal that steps up to free an innocent … and God damn anyone that tries to stand in their way.