By Dawn Luger
After being locked up in prison for 25 years, the entire time claiming he was framed by the Detroit police department, a man finally gets to taste his freedom. New tests have absolved Desmond Ricks, now 51, of a 1992 murder he’s certain police framed him for.
Ricks has never changed his story but the same cannot be said for the police, who switched out the evidence. Since being accused of the murder of his friend, Gerry Bennett, Ricks has denied that he committed the crime and alleged that the cops framed him with false evidence. And his claims have now been vindicated. A judge on Friday threw out the murder conviction of Desmond Ricks who has been in prison for a quarter of a century after new tests on the bullets supported his remarkable claim that police framed him with bogus evidence.
The bullets removed from the victim’s body were in poor shape and didn’t resemble the pristine bullets that were presented as evidence by Detroit police in 1992. Police at that time said a gun belonging to Ricks’ mother was the murder weapon, but new tests now have ruled out any connection, Innocence Clinic director David Moran said. One of the bullets doesn’t match the gun, and the other bullet was too mutilated for a thorough analysis, he said. Rebecca Haan, a supervising attorney with the Innocence Clinic, says that calls into question the credibility of [all] evidence used in Ricks’ case.
The Detroit Police Department closed its crime lab in 2008, after investigations revealed numerous problems with the testing and handling of evidence. The lab was riddled with scandals and more often than not, mishandled evidence. The corruption in the DPD’s lab, of course, stemmed from the corruption in the police department itself. Seeking only a conviction, not the truth, the Detroit police department falsified evidence, according to Ricks, from day one. This new lab testing backs Ricks’ story that the police framed him. The Innocence Clinic and Michigan law school have exonerated 10 people and freed four others since 2009 by exposing bad police work in Michigan, finding new witnesses, and tapping specialists.
Ricks had a key ally in his bid to reopen the case: an independent firearms expert who was involved in the ’92 trial. He found David Townshend’s name in a law journal in 2009 and wrote to him from prison. Townshend agreed to help. He recalled that the bullets originally presented to him by police appeared to be in excellent shape with no trace of blood, bone or hair that would suggest they were removed from the victim’s brain and spine. Townshend said they didn’t resemble the actual bullets that were locked away in police storage and produced just two years ago.
“Townshend’s a hero,” Moran said. “He was willing to put his reputation on the line.”
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But it wasn’t only Townsend who helped save Ricks from his life sentence. Moran also attributed it to Ricks sticking to his story and following through. “Ricks was a great advocate for his own cause,” Moran said. “What he was saying seemed to be outlandish: The Detroit police crime lab would not only make mistakes but switch bullets. It wasn’t outlandish — it was true. This outlandish conduct cost Desmond Ricks 25 years.”
Luckily, Ricks is now a free man, but only after spending half of his life locked up. No amount of money could ever make up for what has been done to this man, but the Innocence Clinic is at least making strides to right the wrongs committed by the corrupt Detroit police.
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Contributed by Dawn Luger of The Daily Sheeple.
Image Credit: The Free Thought Project