A hit man, a teenager and a case of dueling confessions in a brutal murder – The Washington Post
Sanford had pleaded guilty to the crime just a month earlier. The high-schooler, who had an emotional disability and was known for making up elaborate stories, gave two confessions to the police in the hours after the Sept. 17, 2007, shootings on Runyon Street in Detroit. Neither police nor Detroit prosecutors saw reason to doubt the confessions, and Sanford’s lawyer encouraged him to take a plea bargain. Sanford was sentenced to four concurrent terms of 37 to 90 years in prison.
Police had every reason to doubt 14-year-old Davontae Sanford’s confession, aside from his age and his developmental delay.
For starters, Davontae tested negative for gunshot residue. He misidentified the types of weapons used. He is blind in one eye, and likely couldn’t have made one kill shot without adult composure and years of practice, let alone four kill shots in rapid succession, with multiple weapons.
Both Detroit police and prosecutors knew that they hadn’t apprehended a shooter. They played Davontae just as they’d played mentally-challenged Eddie Joe Llloyd years earlier on a rape/homicide.
Every attorney that financially benefitted from the settlement of Eddie’s exoneration compensation suit should have been up in arms the very minute that got wind of Vincent Smother’s confession, because the very same attorney that advised Davontae to falsely confess was the same bum that refused Eddie’s phone calls and failed to visit him even once while handling his appeal – Robert Slameka.
Part of Eddie Joe Lloyds’s successful exoneration compensation lawsuit, after other attorneys secured DNA tests, was a requirement that Detroit police videotape interrogations, which the New York Times noted in 2006, the year before Detroit police coerced a confession from Davontae:
“Detroit in this case has real symbolism to it,” said Barry C. Scheck, a lawyer who helped negotiate the new policy with the city on behalf of the family of the wrongfully imprisoned man, Eddie Joe Lloyd. “It sends a message to other police chiefs that even in the most difficult departments, this is something you can get done. That’s the significance of this.”
Seems that “message” was placed in a bottle, then tossed into the Detroit River to made its way out to sea.
[Please note: This post was edited to reflect that Slameka served as Eddie Joe Lloyd’s appeals laywer, not his original defense lawyer. I apologize for my clinically damaged memory, which sometimes fails me.]