For Immediate Release
Temujin Kensu (aka., Fredrick Freeman), whose wrongful conviction is known as among the worst in Michigan, has COVID-19.
Now a wholly innocent man has a very real chance of dying in prison for a crime for which he never should have been convicted.
“Literally scores of our citizens have pleaded on Temujin’s behalf to the Governor that he be freed promptly due to his actual innocence and his health issues”, said David Sanders, Vice President of Proving Innocence. “It’s baffling that it has apparently fallen on deaf ears and now his story could well end in an unforgivable tragedy”.
Kensu was informed in writing on May 19th that he tested positive for the deadly virus. He says, “My lungs are jacked. My head is pounding all the time. It's very painful to breathe, my ears are ringing as though I have been hit with a hammer, my visions blurred, and my body aches like I've been beaten. I am coughing all the time, sometimes in long fits until I throw up”. Kensu has also lost a significant amount of weight.
In a March 27th interview on Michigan Public Radio Kensu warned that he would be infected due to the complete lack of effective prevention protocols in prison. This prediction and claim have unhappily proven to be all too true.
Nursing staff at the MDOC facility explained to Kensu that the virus is believed to have long-term detrimental effects, including heart and lung damage. Kensu – who entered prison at 23 and is now 57 – has multiple serious ailments, including respiratory, immune and muscle, bowel, and heart diseases, that make him highly vulnerable to succumbing to the terrible infection.
Kensu says he is getting no "special care" and that there is no Remdesivir, for example, for inmates. He is not even getting breathing treatments.
The Michigan Innocence Clinic of the University of Michigan’s law school has submitted an emergency clemency petition to the Governor on behalf of Kensu. That petition was based upon humanitarian grounds given his high risk for the virus as well as his actual innocence. However, Governor Whitmer has not yet acted to free Kensu.
“A Governor’s clemency is supposed to be a final appeal to executive power outside of the criminal justice system”, stated Bill Branham, President of Proving Innocence. “We ask that the Governor not delay in using her authority where it has never been more justified or needed”.
Branham argues that part of the problem is that the State appears to be relying on review by a Parole Board not equipped to examine cases of actual innocence like Kensu’s. He said that over the decades the board has ignored innocence and shown substantial bias toward Kensu, repeatedly giving negative recommendations without any explanation.
“I’d like to think it’s never too late for a humanitarian act and justice, said Sanders. “But it’s now beginning to look that way. The Governor needs to act soon to finally release Kensu to his family and friends where he can get decent health care and live whatever time he has left as a free man. How can we live with ourselves if we let an innocent man die a lonely death in prison when we could have prevented that”?
Kensu was convicted of the murder of Scott Macklem in Port Huron, Michigan in 1986. Around the time of Macklem’s murder, nine unimpeached alibi witnesses place Kensu in Upper Michigan’s Escanaba area about 450 miles from the crime scene in Port Huron. There was absolutely no evidence at the crime scene that connected Kensu to the killing. No murder weapon was produced. No gunshot residue was found on his clothing. An ammunition box found at the scene contained a fingerprint not belonging to Kensu. Kensu and his primary alibi witness both passed polygraphs administered by a respected former Michigan State Police polygraph examiner. In 2010 Denise Page Hood, the Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, called out the prosecutorial misconduct that wrongfully convicted Kensu and ruled that he should be released or given a new trial. That decision was overruled by the Sixth Circuit on purely technical grounds having nothing to do with Kensu’s actual innocence.
For more information on this case see: https://www.provinginnocence.org/temujin-kensu
Contact: B. David Sanders