Walking Free Fund

Proving Innocence gives financial assistance when exonerees leave prison with no red tape. Since they often have literally nothing, this gives them some resources they can call their own, giving them some sense of dignity. They receive $750 or $1,000 depending on certain criteria. (Why do they receive different amounts of money?) Please DONATE to PI so that we may continue to help meet Michigan exonerees' financial needs when they need it the most!

Those who have received Walking Free funds are listed below beginning with the most recent. You can search by year, name or description.

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June 2022

$

750

Ronnell Johnson

Ronnell has an amazing attitude. So positive and so appreciative for everything. We didn't talk specifics but Ronnell has every intention of leaving a positive mark on this world and for making the most out of his new lease on life. He is grateful to Imran Syed of the Michigan Innocence Clinic and for the new Conviction Integrity and Expungement Unit of Washtenaw County, MI.

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March 2022

$

500

Melvin DeJesus

Melvin and his brother, George, beam with joy after being exonerated after over 25 years of imprisonment. PI's Ken Bernard met with them, giving them each $500 to help them in the beginning of their new life. They are currently staying with their mother, Elizabeth, in Pontiac as they try to figure out the next steps.

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Oct 2021

$

500

Juwan Deering

Juwan was falsely accused of setting a fire which resulted in the death of 5 children. None of the witnesses saw Juwan and there was some evidence it was caused by faulty electrical. But bad forensics said the fire was intentionally set and a convenience jailhouse snitch sealed Juwan's fate. Juwan immediately picked up a job after being released.

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May 2021

$

500

Gilbert Poole

Without any family support, Gil plans to settle in the Lansing area, where his new family, his legal team, resides. He wants to use his legal skills to help those he has left behind.

Gil doesn’t know what kind of work he will pursue to support himself but with the support of others he looks forward to becoming self-sufficient.

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Jan 2021

$

800

Lemond Boyd

Lemond's case was of a man who defended his family, a clear case of self-defense, but due to poor police work, the video that demonstrated this fact sat on a detective's desk and was not presented as evidence. Finally, after Lemond continued to demand the produce the video, he was released.

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Dec 2020

$

500

George Clark

George is grateful to be living with his family. As he looks forward, he's considering flipping houses. George was the first person in Michigan to file a successive writ of Habeas Corpus in pro per or "in person" without a lawyer. Despite this accomplishment, the judgment was appealed and he was put back into prison. George was eventually released by the Wayne County CIU.

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Sept 2020

$

500

Lacino Hamilton

Lacino Hamilton was sent to prison in 1994 at 19 and served 26 years of an 80 year sentence. The only thing linking Lacino to the crime was a notorious professional jailhouse snitch who lied and testified in numerous cases.

Where to go from here? Lacino is trying to establish himself in the Lansing area where his support, centered around his lawyer, Mary Chartier, is located.

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May 2022

$

1000

Tyrone Rogers

The COA granted Tyrone a new trial and vacated his conviction on Dec 17, 2020, but the prosecutor kept him in prison for another 15 months! Tyrone was not actually released until 5 weeks after the prosecutor decided to dismiss the case! Tyrone is using the money to make repairs on his car so he can look for work. He is initially living with his sister's family. Tyrone is very grateful for PI's assistance.

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March 2022

$

500

George DeJesus

George and his brother, Melvin, beam with joy after being exonerated after over 25 years of imprisonment. PI's Ken Bernard met with them, giving them each $500 to help them in the beginning of their new life. They are currently staying with their mother, Elizabeth, in Pontiac as they try to figure out the next steps.

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April 2021

$

500

Tonia Miller

Since her release in April 2021 after 18 years in prison for the shaken baby death of her daughter, Tonia has reconnected with family and friends, adjusted to shopping and technology, and works as a tax-paying, productive member of society.

Her conviction was reversed in August 2021, an answer to her prayers, and Tonia is ready to start the reconciliation process.

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Feb 2021

$

500

Ken Nixon

Ken is concerned about the problems exonerees face when they first try to go back into society. It's a difficult road and the system does not make it easy. Like many others, Ken immediately has gotten involved in the exoneree community and is working toward changing the laws so that no so much is stacked against them.

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Dec 2020

$

800

Bernard Howard

Like so many others, Bernard contracted COVID-19 while in prison, but fortunately, his symptoms were not serious. He is appreciative and overwhelmed as he begins his new life. Bernard immediately began attending exoneree functions and will be a strong member of the community.

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Nov 2020

$

500

Walter Forbes

Walter Forbes was found guilty based on the testimony of a person who was threatened by the real arsonist if she did not testify that three innocent persons were the perpetrators. Her recantation in 2017 made the difference.

Walter had tremendous family support over the years which continues to this day.

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April 2020

$

500

Kevin Harrington

Kevin's exuberance is immediately apparent. He is grateful to be out of prison, but Kevin is focusing on looking forward. He wants to tell his story to do what he can to change the system. "This has got to stop!", he said, and wants to play his part.

Kevin is spending 14 days in a hotel after having come from a prison with a high COVID-19 count. He has yet to determine where he will go afterward.

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Apr 2022

$

500

Terance Calhoun

Shortly after Terance was freed, he and his family left for Tennessee where they are from. We will try to keep in touch and we wish them the very best as he seeks the reestablish his life with the support of his family.

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Feb 2022

$

800

Dennis Atkins

Dennis was wrongfully convicted of murder and spent 16 years in prison. His family did not have the resources to drive to the UP to pick him up after his release.

Dennis will receive $800 when he comes back into the Detroit area. PI and other exonerees will help Dennis to get as good a start as possible but he is going to need a lot of help.

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June 2021

$

500

Corey McCall

Corey McCall was convicted despite compelling evidence of his innocence. He was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole in December of 2005 and served almost 16 years. New evidence obtained from Wal-Mart corroborated Corey’s insistence that he was at the store the night of the murders. The actual perpetrators of the crime had information of Corey’s innocence but disclosed it only recently.

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Feb 2021

$

800

Larry Smith

Larry "Butter" Smith has a contagious personality and a heart for all the wrongfully convicted people he left behind. He listed several other prisoners whom he believes are innocent. He has immediately become involved with the exoneree community and has become involved in working on a case.

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Dec 2020

$

800

Anthony Legion

While incarcerated, Anthony focused on studying the law.

Anthony is a paralegal and plans to do freelance work for his employment and intends to give significant attention to pro bono work of others wrongfully convicted.

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Oct 2020

$

800

Marvin Cotton

Marvin Cotton, age 22, was convicted of the shooting death of Jamond McIntyre.

Ellis Frazier testified that Cotton confessed to the crime while behind bars. But in a 2014 affidavit, Frazier stated “he did not confess to me about being a part of any crime like I testified to at the trial. All the information in the police statement was composed by the detective.”

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Mar 2020

$

800

Carl Bruner

Carl had always maintained his innocence and that he was being framed. His appellate defense argues that they were not allowed to cross-examine Carl's accuser because the witness was not present and his testimony in another man's trial was simply read in court.