At 8:30 a.m. on March 22, 2022, a hearing began in which two brothers, George and Melvin DeJesus, were exonerated. They will be living with their mother, Elizabeth, in Pontiac as they soak in what has happened to them. They have been freed and completely exonerated from the crime they each spent 26 1/2 years incarcerated.
They were convicted, based on the testimony of the actual murderer, who claimed that the brothers forced him to rape the victim and that they, not he, were solely responsible for their murder. In exchange for his testimony, the actual murderer was convicted of second-degree murder and rape, escaping life imprisonment. But later he was convicted of other rape-murders, all with similar features in which he acted alone. Alibi witnesses declared the brothers were somewhere else at the time.
This was a collaboration between the state's two Innocence Projects, Cooley Innocence Project and the Michigan Innocence Clinic with the State's relatively new Conviction Integrity Unit. In addition, the Oakland County prosecutor's office concurred with the conclusion of innocence.
Use of Snitches should be against the law!
At least the last five Michigan exonerations are cases in which the primary testimony was a snitch, and in this case, the actual murderer. While being very persuasive to a jury, the reality is that any case built upon a snitch is a sign pointing to the weakness of the case. Taking a step back, one can see that any case which is built upon the extremely unreliable and suspect testimony of someone who can only benefit by cooperating with his captors cannot be trusted to put a person in prison for the rest of or the majority of the rest of their life. (Fortunately, Michigan does not have the death penalty.) Yet, it is done all the time. In this case, the snitch claimed to have first-hand knowledge but usually the story is that the person "confessed" to the snitch while in jail.
Now, why would a person in that position make such a statement, sealing their fate? It is simply too unreliable. I personally know of a case in which a person who accompanied the murderer but who was not aware that the murderer even had a gun on him, was executed because the murderer was motivated to implicate his associate so that he could avoid the death penalty himself. These tactics, resulting in extreme sentences are themselves an abuse of power, perpetrated by prosecutors who are more interested in a conviction than they are in the certainty of their case. In the case of Temujin Kensu, who has been in prison for over 36 years, we have a video in which the snitch admits that the prosecution instructed him to lie on the stand. In other cases, the prosecution may not have put the snitch up to it but is glad to trade an unreliable testimony in exchange for giving away benefits on which they are less concerned about compromising.
Snitch testimony should be against the law! It is presenting unreliable testimony to a jury uneducated in its boundless abuse. See the one-minute video Why Jailhouse Informants are the Most Dangerous Witnesses in the System.
Walking Free Fund
George and Melvin will each receive within a few days $500 from PI's Walking Free Fun as well as any other networking we can do in order to help them in their transition back into society. For more information, see the Walking Free Fund and please consider donating to the work of Proving Innocence.