Criminal Justice

Wrongfully convicted inmate's quest for compensation is derailed by Detroit bankruptcy

A Michigan man seeking $5 million for spending 10 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit is encountering more bad luck as a result of Detroit’s bankruptcy.

Dwayne Provience’s case “was inches from being settled for $5 million,” says his lawyer, Wolfgang Mueller, but now he will have the same rights as other unsecured creditors, likely to obtain just pennies on the dollar. Slate has an article about his plight, written by Imran Syed, a clinical fellow at the Michigan Innocence project who helped free Provience from prison.

Provience was convicted of murdering a drug dealer based on the testimony of a homeless man who was facing possible prison time as a repeat offender after an arrest for breaking and entering, the story says. The homeless man pinned the blame on Provience and had his own charges dismissed.

Though the homeless “witness” described a different car for the shooter than identified by other witnesses, Provience was convicted. His lawyer didn’t call any of the other witnesses; the lawyer later had his license revoked, the story says. The homeless man recanted when Syed’s students tracked him down.

Records in the case file also showed that police had suspected two drug bosses in the murder—a theory also advanced by prosecutors in a separate trial for the later murder of one of the drug dealer’s friends. Prosecutors claimed the drug bosses had solicited the later murder to prevent the friend from naming the drug bosses as the real killers in the murder for which Provience was tried and convicted.

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