DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – The state of Michigan has agreed to pay $408,000 to a young Detroit man who spent eight years in prison for four murders before prosecutors agreed to drop the conviction.
Records show Davontae Sanford is the latest person to qualify for compensation in a wrongful conviction.
Sanford was 14 years old when he walked up to a homicide scene in his neighborhood in 2007, became a suspect and was arrested. He was 15 when he pleaded guilty to second degree murder in 2008. Sanford said he felt desperate and poorly represented by his lawyer, who was not present when he says he was by authorities to confess under interrogation.
A Detroit hit man, Vincent “Vito” Smothers, later signed an affidavit saying he had committed the four killings, not Sanford.
“I only want to tell the truth in order to prevent an innocent kid from serving time for crimes that I committed,” said Smothers, who is serving 52 years in prison for killing eight other people.
In 2016, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said Sanford’s guilty plea was spoiled after state police found misconduct by Detroit police. Sanford’s conviction was thrown out, and he was released from prison in June of that year.
Under a 2016 law, someone who is wrongly convicted can qualify for $50,000 for every year spent in prison. Separately, Sanford has a lawsuit pending in federal court against Detroit police
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