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False and Deceptive Statements in Sixth Circuit Order

Editor's note: Below, you will read about a court system that is ineffective and perpetuates injustice. But what can you do about it? When it comes to the Appeals Courts, there is little anyone can do. That's why we believe that our attention should be focused on the new state Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU). It is in its formative stage, not yet open to taking cases.

There are political powers that do not want Freeman to be released. Another tragic injustice will be perpetrated if the CIU avoids looking at the Freeman case for political reasons. Dave Sanders calls Freeman a "political prisoner" because the "evidence" of guilt is laughable. Errol Liverpool, president of PI has said, "As long as they protect their own, they are all guilty."

Robyn Frankel
Robyn Frankel, Head of Michigan's CIU

The most effective thing a Michigander can do is to write an email to CIU Director Robyn Frankel and urge that Fredrick Freeman’s case be reviewed and acted upon. Your voice could help make a difference for an innocent man.


Fred Freeman's appeal.

Fred Freeman - Temujin Kensu
Fred Freeman (Temujin Kensu)

Why was the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals order not signed by any judge? That is unusual and suggests no judge wanted his name attached to such a poorly written document filled with errors and deception.

The Court was uninterested in taking the time to review the full record and evidence of Freeman’s case, listening only to the false and unsupported claims of St. Clair County.

The Court is also clearly not interested in justice but in protecting one of its own, The prosecutor, now Federal Judge Robert Cleland, secured a false conviction, not by evidence of Fred’s guilt but through his own misconduct and wrongdoing (as documented in Chief Justice Denise Page Hood’s 2010 habeas ruling). Below is how the Court miss-states facts and diverts attention from the overwhelming evidence of Freeman’s actual innocence.

• The Court Order states that “. . . Richard Krueger identified Freeman as the man he saw standing in the parking lot where the murder occurred approximately one hour before Macklem was shot”. That is false! Krueger was never in that parking lot but actually in a lot farther away near the McMorran Arena. Moreover, in viewing the photo line-up, the police said Krueger stated that Freeman looked "similar" to the suspect he "saw" during the photo array (an array that used a larger, newer photo of Freeman highlighting him among the other photos!) But when looking right at Freeman in the in-person line up for several minutes, Krueger picked a James Loxton who looked nothing like Freeman.

• The Court Order states that “Both Gobeyn and Kreuger identified Freeman from a photographic lineup and later made in-court identifications”. As noted above, the Court conveniently fails to mention that Krueger identified Loxton in the in-person line-up, not Freeman.

Regarding Gobeyn, he claimed he saw Freeman in what he admitted was only “a few seconds glance” at a vehicle in motion leaving the parking lot with a driver who “had a hat down to his eyes, collar up to his chin, and his head down”. Gobeyn’s “identification” was finally made only after illegal and improper hypnosis and after being shown a series of suggestive photos highlighting Freeman among the others presented. In the in-person line-up, Gobeyn admitted actually knowing two line-up members, meaning that Freeman was the only one left as the “brown-haired male” police were seeking.

The Court asks us to believe these two highly dubious witnesses and disregard at least nine alibi witnesses placing Freeman 450 miles away in Escanaba? (Recent investigation has found one more witness placing Freeman in Escanaba just a few hours before the murder in Port Huron, who was interviewed by the police – information regarding this key alibi witness was never revealed to the defense).

• The Court Order states, “But plenty of other evidence supported the jury’s verdict”. The Court again fails to identify such “other evidence”. It can’t be the receipts that Freeman produced for the day of the crime showing that he purchased parts from K-Mart for his broken-down car in Escanaba, or that he also sought and received permission to leave the vehicle in the store lot. It can’t be the fingerprint on a shotgun shell box found at the crime scene that was not Freeman’s. It can’t be the several-hour, warrantless and illegal search of Mr. Freeman’s house, trailer, and property that found nothing incriminating. It can’t be the jailhouse snitch (six-time felon) Philip Joplin, who first claimed that Freeman spontaneously confessed to him in a jailhouse holding cell but later admitted in a videotaped interview that he had fabricated this story and received favors for that falsehood. It can’t be the documented misconduct of the prosecutor threatening Joplin that he would be sent back to prison if he didn’t give false testimony. It can’t be the nine disinterested witnesses that place Freeman in Escanaba. Where’s the "plenty of other evidence”?

• The Court Order says that two witnesses “observed the suspicious man in the parking lot wearing a green army-style jacket” and that police found “a green army style jacket in Freeman’s car . . .” That “jacket” has absolutely no relevance to the murder. In fact, the "jacket" in question was not Freeman’s; it belonged to Tom Forde (actually his brother Michael who he got it from and has Tom's small decorative pins on it). The jacket was found in the trunk of the Marquis registered to Tom Forde, which Freeman was driving. Also in the car were some of Tom's belongings, paperwork, identification, etc.

The jacket contained no gunshot residue (which it absolutely would have if being held during the firing of a 12-gauge shotgun!). The police admitted it had clearly not been washed in quite some while. Moreover, green army style jackets were commonly worn by many at the time, though Freeman did not wear one. None of his friends up north claimed he wore such a jacket nor did his girlfriend, Crystal Merrill, or Tom Forde. In fact, they noted Freeman always wore, leather jackets when riding his motorcycle or a “black wool peacoat" or a “duster” style jacket popular with young people who listened to "New Wave" music in the 80's.

The Court Order made the absurd and totally unsupported claim that, “In light of all of the evidence, we must agree with the district court that no reasonable jurist could find it debatable that Freeman has not proven by clear and convincing evidence that no reasonable fact-finder would have found him guilty”. Yet, there is videotape where one juror, Richard Pelligren, states that "It was all circumstantial. We had no evidence", referring to Freeman chartering a plane to commit the murder, the only possible (and improbable) theory of how he could have done this. A theory is not evidence! The Court says they decided on the evidence. A juror says they had no evidence. Why the disconnect? (For juror quote, begin viewing at 3:46 at this link.

B. David Sanders
B. David Sanders

The real evidence is that nine alibi witnesses prove that it was physically impossible for Freeman to have committed the crime; that the prosecutor literally “invented” evidence by unethically suggesting to the jury that a man living through public assistance chartered an airplane to commit the murder; that the prosecution committed acts of misconduct by illegally coercing a jailhouse snitch to provide false testimony, and by doctoring a photo line-up board and hiding the original one from the jury and the defense. Had Prosecutor Cleland’s misconduct and deception been revealed to the jury, how could any “reasonable fact-finder” have found Freeman guilty? The question answers itself and is not “debatable”.

To hear another view of the 6th Circuit's decision, read Mike Mongan under What's New.

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