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Man Wrongfully Convicted Of Murder Released After 38 Years In Prison

Jess Hardiman

Published 

Man Wrongfully Convicted Of Murder Released After 38 Years In Prison

Featured Image Credit: PA

A man wrongfully convicted of murder has finally been released from prison after serving nearly four decades behind bars in Michigan.

Walter Forbes, 63, was sentenced to life without parole in 1982, following a deliberately-lit apartment fire which killed a man called Dennis Hall.

Forbes had broken up a bar fight between Hall and another man, making him a suspect - having also been shot by Hall the day after the row.

Testimony from a woman named Annice Kennebrew helped convict Forbes, but she eventually came forward in 2017 to admit she had lied, according to court documents.

Credit: Michigan Innocence Clinic
Credit: Michigan Innocence Clinic

Last month, Forbes was finally able to walk free from Kinross Correctional Facility, where he had spent 38 years.

Sharing the happy news on Facebook, the Michigan Innocence Clinic - which worked on Forbes' case for more than a decade - wrote: "MIC Client Walter Forbes was released from prison on Friday, Nov. 20, after 38 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Congratulations to Walter and friends/family!"

Kennebrew testified via Zoom on 8 June 2020, saying she was fighting a bout of cancer and wanted to unburden herself of a secret.

According to a transcript of the hearing, she said: "I've been wanting to do this. I've been holding it in for all these years."

Credit: Michigan Innocence Clinic
Credit: Michigan Innocence Clinic

Kennebrew told the court that she wanted to recant the 1983 testimony she gave against Forbes and two other men - one of whom was never charged, while the other was tried and acquitted.

ABC reports how she explained that she'd been a 19-year-old single mother at the time, and after the fatal fire she'd been approached by two men, who threatened to harm her and her family if she didn't go to the police and tell them she'd seen Forbes and two others set fire to the building.

Kennebrew said: "You got to think, I was young, I was dumb. They already had me scared crazy."

After being released, Forbes said he forgives Kennebrew for what happened.

Speaking to ABC News in a video interview, he said: "I don't hold any bitterness against her and I forgive her because she was a victim also. I don't see her volunteering to just do that. She was forced to do it."

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

Forbes' attorney, Imran Syed - who is Assistant Director of the Innocence Clinic - said: "The crazy thing about Walter's case is not just how long he was in prison, but how simple this case really was, and how, as much as I want to take credit for doing something huge, this should have been done decades ago."

Syed added: "Unfortunately, these things happen as much as you want to say this should have never happened.

"We have to draw lessons from it and I think there are important lessons here about how we need to scrutinise the evidence we see as people and jurors and not jump to convict someone based on allegations because I think that's essentially what happened here."

Topics: News, US News

Jess Hardiman
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