by Bill Proctor
“It’s a really good day when you play a part in the release of an innocent man from prison…but when that man’s co-defendant is also released, the reason to celebrate is that much bigger!” That’s what Proving Innocence founder Bill Proctor said on the MIC announcement that Kevin Harrington is free after serving 17 years in prison for a crime that he did not commit.
Harrington’s release comes just days after George Clark was released, both men determined to be innocent of a 2002 murder in the city of Inkster. A judge in the Wayne County Circuit Court signed the order vacating the convictions of both men. Proctor’s role as investigator in the Clark case took him to the crime scene in Inkster where the execution of a young man in his 20’s took place. Bill was directed by Clark's legal team to a woman, a critical witness who provided specific details of the crime. She told Proctor she saw a man with a handgun ordering the victim to walk towards a stand of trees at the edge of a housing project where the victim's body was found not long after shots were heard. Proctor listened and took photos, determined just how close she was to the men she saw and readied a “crime scene map” which he presented on the stand in one of the Federal Court hearings that lead to Clark’s release on bond.
Editor's Note: Kevin Harrington and George Clark received assistance from Proving Innocence's Walking Free Fund soon after their release,
The appeals court in Cincinnati reversed the judges ruling which sent Clark back to prison for a time. But his lawyers succeeded in getting another hearing where the Wayne County Conviction Integrity Unit testified their investigation confirmed Clark's innocence. Harrington had been tried four times before his wrongful conviction in 2002, but over the following 11 years and 22 UM Law students working on his case, their work and the CIU conclusion lead to Harrington’s release on Tuesday, April 21st.
For now, he is in a hotel in quarantine from the Covid-19 virus, but his mother is ecstatic about his freedom. “I praise God for all the work and dedication of so many people who helped bring him home.”, she said. For Proctor, Harrington and Clark are his 9th and 10th success stories . . . the number of people free after his reporting or investigation brought truth to a failed process that threatened their freedom.