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Judge clears Davontae Sanford of four murders, orders him freed

Jun 7, 2016

After spending eight years in prison, a Detroit man convicted of murdering four people has been cleared and ordered released.

Davontae Sanford confessed to the murders in 2007, when he was just 14.

But soon after Sanford’s conviction, a hit man confessed to the same crimes, and insisted Sanford was not involved.

Now, following a Michigan State Police re-investigation of the case, Wayne County Judge Brian Sullivan has vacated Sanford’s convictions, and ordered him released immediately. Prosecutor Kym Worthy had agreed to dismiss Sanford’s case Tuesday morning.

Valerie Newman is with the Michigan State Appellate Defender Office, and one of Sanford’s attorneys. She “basically started crying” with happiness after hearing the news -- but warns that Sanford still faces a hard road.

“They’re not going to put Davontae through any further trauma,” Newman said. “Yet there’s the trepidation of reintegrating someone into society after that period of time, you know, growing up in prison.”

Newman says Sanford’s case highlights hard truths of the criminal justice system, including the dubious nature of some confessions.

“Confessions of young children are almost always unreliable,” she said. “And you would want a lot of independent corroboration before that kind of statement is taken seriously, or used to prosecute somebody.”

Sanford is expected to leave prison Wednesday.