News 07.20.16

Davontae Sanford Officially Exonerated as Court Drops Charges

By Innocence Staff

A Detroit man who was wrongfully convicted of a 2007 quadruple homicide has had the murder charges against him officially dropped in the last legal step towards his full exoneration, the AP has confirmed.

Twenty-three year old Davontae Sanford was released from prison on June 8, a day after his convictions were thrown out by Judge Brian Sullivan at the request of the Wayne County prosecutor’s office. According to the AP, however, Judge Sullivan “still needed to dismiss the murder charges to guarantee his freedom” –a move that finally came yesterday.

“This case is thick with speculation, conjecture, confusion and unanswered questions; far thinner on evidence,” Judge Sullivan reportedly said.

Sanford was only 14 when he was arrested while standing outside his home in his pajamas a few blocks from the crime scene. After two days of interrogation without a parent or guardian present, he eventually confessed to the crime and, at the advice of his attorney, pleaded guilty. Sanford was ultimately sentenced to at least 39 years in prison. Weeks after his sentencing, another man confessed to the shootings, but Sanford nevertheless remained in prison.

According to reports, the state appellate defender office eventually learned of the confession and spent years attempting to withdraw Sanford’s plea to no avail. The Michigan Innocence Clinic and the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth took on the case in 2014, spurring the Michigan State Police to reopen the investigation into the murders.

In a triumphant message posted to her Facebook page yesterday, Sanford’s sister, Deshonda Davis, confirmed the overturning of her brother’s wrongful conviction, declaring that the day was going to be marked by celebration.

“Sanford just called & said all his charges FINALLY dropped,” she wrote. “Time to start taking trips.”

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