These are Your “Witnesses”?

After living for 31 years in prison, Fred Freeman has been granted another opportunity for a habeas petition. With that in mind, we are publishing updated articles addressing this horrible, malicious wrongful conviction.  This one discusses the incredibly weak and unreliable witnesses the prosecution presented to the jury. If you have never read about this case, you will shake your head in utter disbelief!

(Background: Fredrick Freeman was wrongfully convicted of the murder of Scott Macklem, who was shot in a Port Huron Community College parking lot on November 5, 1986. He was sentenced to the mandatory term of life in prison without parole and has now served 31 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Every impartial and professional assessment of his case has concluded that Freeman is wholly innocent.)

Introduction
temujink2Reliable witnesses are an important element for the defense or the prosecution in any crime. As you will see in the following, witnesses for Fred Freeman provide a solid, virtually unassailable alibi, while the prosecution’s witnesses offer no reasonable evidence or argument that Freeman was anywhere near the murder scene. Indeed, the prosecution’s key “witness” who claims to see Freeman leaving the scene, mostly obscured with clothing and the vehicle in which he is driving, first identifies the automobile as a sports car but later says it was a station wagon. That’s a credible witness?

Consider the following:

Witnesses for the Defense
Around the time of the murder, nine (9!!) disinterested witnesses place Fredrick Freeman in the Escanaba area of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan about 450 miles from the crime scene in Port Huron, Michigan. At the specific time of the crime (about 9 am), one alibi witness actually places him another twenty miles farther north in Rock/Perkins, Michigan. (That alibi witness passed two polygraph examinations). None of the nine witnesses were ever discredited or impeached at trial or since.

Witnesses for the Prosecution
What about the witnesses presented by the prosecution? Well, they either did not identify Freeman or were totally unreliable.

Read more: These are Your “Witnesses”?

Kensu Documentary

In 2006, Dean Mongan produce Justice Incarcerated, a 49 minute documentary detailing the issues in the Fred Freeman/Temujin Kensu case. He has recently posted on YouTube the entire video with updates including Judge Hood's overturning of Kensu's conviction and the State of Michigan appealing her ruling. If you want to see the perspectives and facts straight from those involved, this is well worth your time and should be seen by anyone concerned about justice in our country.

The ACLU and the Michigan Campaign for Justice unveiled on Wednesday, May 18th, 2011, the book Faces of Failing Public Defense Systems. Temujin is one of the cases presented.

Kensu Media Release 7 All 3 IPs Support Kensu!

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April 15, 2010
 
Contact:  B. David Sanders
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
(586) 365-8395
For Immediate Release
 
Prominent Michigan Experts on Wrongful Convictions
Call for Release of Innocent Man 

 

Legal experts at the University of Michigan Law School and the Thomas M. Cooley Law School have joined Proving Innocence in concluding that Temujin Kensu is an innocent man who should be granted clemency by Governor Jennifer Granholm.  This new development adds more momentum to the many citizens seeking an end to one of Michigan’s most appalling miscarriages of justice.

Temujin Kensu (known as Frederick Freeman prior to his conversion to Buddhism) was wrongfully convicted of the shotgun killing of Scott Macklem in a college parking lot in Port Huron, Michigan on November 5, 1986.  Numerous witnesses have testified that he was 450 miles away in Escanaba on the day of the shooting.  Both Kensu and his primary alibi witness have passed polygraphs administered by former law enforcement examiners that show he had no part in the murder.  Kensu has now served more than 23 years behind bars for a crime the evidence shows he did not commit.

In a letter to the Governor’s legal advisor, Bridget McCormack and David Moran, Co-Directors of the Michigan Innocence Clinic of the University of Michigan Law School, stated that we “.  .  .  firmly believe that Mr. Kensu could not have murdered Scott Macklem”.  That letter goes on to indicate that Mr. Kensu was convicted despite compelling evidence that he was in Escanaba the day Macklem was murdered in Port Huron, that the trial was rife with prosecutorial misconduct, and that Mr. Kensu was represented by an incompetent and drug-addicted defense attorney.

Professor Ronald Bretz from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, recently stated, “In this case, I am convinced that Temujin Kensu did not commit this murder and had no role in it. He is truly innocent and I encourage the Governor to grant clemency.”

Donna McKneelen, Co-Director of the Cooley Innocence Project at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, also examined the Kensu case and is now on record calling for his release.  “It’s time for action to release this wholly innocent man so he can return to his family and friends”, McKneelen said.

Proving Innocence (PI) made the wrongful conviction of Temujin Kensu its number one priority in 2009.  Speaking about the case, David Sanders of PI said, “There was not a shred of evidence that Temujin committed this murder. The jury got it terribly wrong because it was misled by an improper prosecution that demonized the defendant, a police force that targeted him from the outset and conducted no real investigation, and a defense counsel who offered no defense”.

Ross Parker, a retired career federal prosecutor who is now Kensu’s defense counsel, spoke encouragingly about the prospects for clemency: “We have former municipal police officers and judges, a retired Supreme Court Chief Justice, a retired Michigan State Police officer, former FBI special agents, and a retired Michigan State Police polygraph expert -- among others – all concluding that Temujin Kensu is wholly innocent.  Now these prominent legal and law enforcement experts in our state have examined the evidence and are on record that this is a wrongful conviction.  There could not be a more persuasive case for the Governor to free an innocent man who has spent almost a quarter century unjustly imprisoned.”

 More details on the Temujin Kensu case, including a series of video newscasts and newspaper articles, can be found on Proving Innocence’s website at www.provinginnocence.net.

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Proving Innocence is a nonprofit organization that helps free people who are wrongfully incarcerated by providing investigators to substantiate claims of innocence; producing video documentaries of wrongful convictions to educate the public and policy makers; advocating for reforms in the criminal justice system; and helping exonerees connect with post-release services to facilitate their successful return to society.

Kensu Media Release 6 Petition

May 27, 2009

 

Contact: B. David Sanders

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

(586) 365-8395

 

 

 

 

 

For Immediate Release

 

Proving Innocence Announces Petition to Free Temujin Kensu

 

Proving Innocence is asking all citizens to sign a petition for clemency to Governor Granholm that would free Temujin Kensu. This Michigan man has been imprisoned for more than 22 years for the shotgun killing of Scott Macklem in Port Huron, Michigan. The conviction was not supported by a shred of evidence.

 

Signing the petition is free and takes a couple of minutes. The petition can be found by going to http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/FreeKensuNow/. (Note: F, K, and N must be capitalized.)

 

Kensu has been incarcerated continuously without bond since his arrest on November 13, 1986. He was convicted of first degree murder in St. Clair Circuit Court on May 19, 1987.

 

“Proving Innocence only takes on cases where the evidence is clear that the convicted party is actually innocent, not just innocent through some legal technicality,” said David Sanders of Proving Innocence. And there is no better example of such actual innocence than Temujin Kensu.”

 

Kensu was convicted despite the fact that he was more than 450 miles from the crime scene when the murder occurred. There was no physical or forensic evidence connecting Kensu to the crime. Both Kensu and his primary alibi witness passed polygraphs, administered by former Michigan State Police polygraphers, which show he is innocent.


Ross Parker, a former 30-year federal prosecutor now working with Kensu said, “I spent my entire career putting bad guys behind bars where they belong. But this case is a true tragedy. Our criminal justice system failed this time because of faulty police work, overly zealous prosecution, admitted perjury by a jailhouse snitch, a flawed witness identification process, and a drug-addicted and incompetent defense attorney. It was Kensu’s ‘perfect storm’.”

 

Many highly respected people who have examined the case conclude that Kensu should not have been convicted, including a retired Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, former FBI agents and prosecutors, and a retired Michigan State Police Polygrapher. Even retired detective Herbert Welser, who served for 31 years in the Port Huron Police Department that initially investigated the case says, “There is no doubt in my mind that Temujin Kensu did not commit this murder and in order to gain a conviction against him several inappropriate things occurred. Mr. Kensu’s conviction and continued incarceration is a terrible miscarriage of justice.”

 

“It only takes a few minutes to review and sign Proving Innocence’s petition and yet it can make an incredible difference,” said Sanders. “It will help bring this appalling case to the Governor’s attention and encourage her to act now to free a man who is wasting what could be a productive life, separated from his loving wife and children.”

 

More details on the Temujin Kensu case, including a series of video news casts and newspaper articles, can be found on Proving Innocence’s website at www.provinginnocence.net.

 

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Proving Innocence is a nonprofit organization that helps free people who are wrongfully incarcerated by providing investigators to substantiate claims of innocence; producing video documentaries of wrongful convictions to educate the public and policy makers; advocating for reforms in the criminal justice system; and helping exonerees connect with post-release services to facilitate their successful return to society.

Kensu Media Release 1

Proving Innocence Makes Kensu Case Its Top Priority

Proving Innocence has announced that the Temujin Kensu Case is its top priority for 2009 and in June is appealing to the Michigan Parole and Commutation Board for his release. Temujin Kensu is serving a life sentence for a murder that he did not commit. He has already served over 22 years in prison.

The State convicted Kensu (known as Frederick Freeman prior to his conversion to Buddhism) of the shotgun killing of Scott Macklem in a college parking lot in Port Huron, Michigan on November 5, 1986. But as confirmed by numerous credible alibi witnesses, on that day Kensu was in the Upper Peninsula near Escanaba more than 450 miles from the crime scene. A receipt signed by Kensu also shows that he was in Escanaba the day of the shooting. Moreover, there is absolutely no physical or forensic evidence connecting Kensu to the murder. No gunshot residue was found on his clothing and an ammunition box found at the scene contained a fingerprint not belonging to Kensu. A several-hour warrantless and illegal search of Kensu’s house, trailer, and property found nothing incriminating. Both Kensu and his primary alibi witness have passed lie detector tests that show he had nothing to do with the murder. The tests were administered by former Michigan State Police polygraphers.

That Kensu is innocent is not just Proving Innocence’s conclusion. It’s the assessment of dozens of highly respected and qualified people who have made that judgment. For example, former Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Brennan has said, “Had I been the trial judge, I would have directed a verdict for the defendant.” Hank Glaspie, a former 27-year FBI agent has said, “There wasn’t the evidence to convict him. It just wasn’t there.” And Chester Romatowski, a retired Michigan State Police polygraph expert said the polygraph he administered “Clearly shows that Mr. Freeman did not shoot Mr. Macklem. I feel very confident about that.”

So why was Kensu convicted while the real killer remains free to victimize others? Ross Parker, a former federal prosecutor with more than 30 years experience, chalks it up to an astonishing combination of unprofessional and faulty police work, admitted perjury by a jailhouse snitch, an aggressive prosecutor, erroneous identification by witnesses caused by suggestive police procedures, and a court-appointed defense attorney who was drug-addicted, constitutionally ineffective, and had an undisclosed conflict of interest with the lead detective in the case.

Parker says, “Mr. Kensu did not receive a fair trial. The cards were stacked against him. Within a couple of hours of the homicide, the police had targeted their man and failed to investigate any other leads that would have revealed the real killer. And the prosecution focused the case on demonizing the defendant in the absence of persuasive evidence that he committed the offense.”

As its top priority, Proving Innocence, along with Kensu’s other supporters, is aggressively pursuing four courses of action in a concerted effort to free Kensu: One, a petition is being prepared for submission in June, 2009 to the state Clemency Board as part of an effort to convince Governor Granholm to commute Kensu’s sentence. Two, a Petition for Habeas Corpus has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Three, further investigations are being conducted to identify the real killer. And, four, Proving Innocence will continue building widespread public support for redressing this wrongful conviction.

“This case demonstrates that juries can make mistakes when misled by an overly zealous prosecution and incompetent police investigations”, said David Sanders, a member of Proving Innocence. “Here is a man that has been incarcerated for more than two decades for a crime his did not commit. It’s well past time for the Governor and our criminal justice system to recognize the magnitude of this incredible wrong, act now to free Temujin Kensu, and prevent an innocent man from wasting the rest of his life behind bars.”

Proving Innocence is a nonprofit organization that helps free people who are wrongfully incarcerated by providing investigators to substantiate claims of innocence; producing video documentaries of wrongful convictions to educate the public and policy makers; advocating for reforms in the criminal justice system; and helping exonerees connect with post-release services to facilitate their successful return to society (see www.provinginnocence.net).