Two Brothers Sentenced To Life In Prison 25 Years Ago Are Exonerated

A Hispanic prisoner for 25 years proved that he was innocent 3:55

(WABNEWS) — Brothers George and Melvin DeJesus are out of jail after serving nearly 25 years in prison for a crime they didn’t commit.

“Coming out, just feeling vindicated, it was great,” George DeJesus told reporters in Michigan on Tuesday, shortly after he was released. according to WDIV, WABNEWS Detroit affiliate. “This is the best day of my life.”

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George said that he had not seen his brother in approximately 24 years. The brothers were being held in separate correctional facilities, according to the Michigan Department of Corrections website.

They met and hugged, according to the affiliate. “I’m very happy,” Melvin DeJesus said. “I’ve waited so long for this.”

George DeJesus is greeted by family and advocates on March 22 at a restaurant in Lansing.

Despite their alibis, they were convicted in 1997 of murder and felony firearms in the 1995 death of Margaret Midkiff, who was found dead in her Pontiac home, and were sentenced to life in prison without parole.

But the authorities requested the annulment of those sentences after uncovering evidence in a new investigation. the newly created Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) of the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, worked with local authorities and the Innocence Project of the University of Michigan Cooley School of Law, which represented George DeJesus, and the Innocence Clinic of the University of Michigan Michigan, who represented Melvin DeJesus.

“Twenty-five years of your life were taken from you that cannot be replaced,” Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Martha D. Anderson told the brothers, according to Cooley. Anderson overturned their convictions this Tuesday during a hearing by Zoom. “Hopefully, they will find some solace in the fact that they will be able to reunite with their family and start living a normal life outside the prison walls.”

At the time of the homicide, DNA linked another person to the crime scene: Brandon Gohagen, who initially told police the two brothers had nothing to do with the crime, according to a Press release from Cooley Law School. No DNA or other evidence was found linking the DeJesus brothers to the crime scene, according to the release.

However, Gohagen later told authorities that Melvin DeJesus had forced him to sexually assault the victim and said it was the brothers who subsequently tied up and beat the victim to death, according to the statement. Gohagen pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree criminal sexual conduct in exchange for testifying against the two, according to the statement. The brothers were convicted and sentenced in 1997.

Some two decades later, in 2017, Gohagen was convicted of raping and killing another Pontiac woman a year before Midkiff’s 1995 homicide, according to a statement

from the University of Michigan. Investigators discovered 12 other women who had been “emotionally, physically and sexually abused” by Gohagen, the Michigan State Attorney’s Office said.

When the CIU investigated the brothers’ case, it found evidence impugning Gohagen’s credibility, including a witness who said that Gohagen had implicated the brothers in exchange for a plea deal.

CIU investigators also found corroborating witness statements for the brothers’ alibi on the night of Midkiff’s murder. The brothers had said they were all at a party the night Gohagen said the crime occurred and that the three went their separate ways afterward, prosecutors said.

WABNEWS contacted Gohagen’s attorney.

“We are delighted to learn that our client, Melvin DeJesus, and his brother, George, will be fully exonerated in this murder, some 26 years after the brothers were framed for this heinous crime by the real killer,” Dave Moran said, co-director of the Michigan Innocence Clinic, in a statement. “Now we will focus on helping Melvin DeJesus adjust to his freedom and move on with his life.”

“George has steadfastly maintained that he had nothing to do with this terrible crime,” Tracey Brame, director of the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project, said in a separate statement. “We are grateful to Attorney General Dana Nessel and the Sentencing Integrity Unit team for their willingness to listen to the brothers and reinvestigate the case.”

The brothers’ exonerations are the third and fourth wrongful convictions overturned with the help of the CIU, prosecutors said. The unit has so far received more than 1,600 requests for assistance, the office added.

“I appreciate the unit’s tireless work to secure these exonerations for the DeJesus brothers,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement, calling the result “another source of great pride” for the CIU.

“I look forward to continuing to collaborate with Cooley’s Innocence Project and the University of Michigan Innocence Clinic in our collective quest to provide justice for the wrongfully incarcerated,” Nessel said.

Released inmates can receive up to one year of housing for reentry and two years of other support services, such as transportation and job assistance and training, according to the prosecution.

The state also passed the “Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act” in 2016, which aims to provide people exonerated from wrongful convictions $50,000 for each year they were incarcerated, as well as some restitution for other expenses, including court fees. lawyers, according Innocence Project.

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