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Michigan Prisoners Receive Compensation for Wrongful Convictions

by Derek Gilna

Edward George Carter and Marwin McHenry, both wrongfully convicted and imprisoned in separate cases, have obtained compensation awards from the Michigan Court of Claims. Carter was awarded $1,761,506.85, while McHenry received $175,753.42.

Carter was tried and convicted in 1975 for a sexual assault on a pregnant student in a handicapped bathroom at Wayne State University in Detroit, and spent 35 years in prison. According to his claim, “The unique nature of the sexual assault caused the perpetrator to leave fingerprints and palm prints on the upper and lower bars of the handicap bathroom railing. The police ... tested the prints ... [which] did not match Mr. Carter’s prints.”

However, “evidence of the fingerprint analysis was not introduced at trial or disclosed to the defense,” his claim stated. In 2009, the Innocence Project had the prints retested, utilizing new techniques, and they matched those of an individual with a history of similar sexual assaults. Carter’s conviction was vacated in 2010 and he later sought compensation under the Michigan Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act. He received the $1.76 million award on August 18, 2017.

According to McHenry’s claim, in 2013 he “was convicted after a jury trial of three counts of felonious assault, three counts of assault with intent to commit murder, and one count of felony firearm in the Wayne County Circuit Court.” The University of Michigan Innocence Clinic took an interest in his case and went to work.

The Clinic was able to procure new evidence, including sworn testimony from the sister of the person who had actually committed the crime, but not before McHenry served 1,286 days in Michigan’s prison system. The state promptly recognized his innocence and joined in a motion to have him freed.

McHenry filed a claim under the Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act, and received his $175,753.42 award on May 12, 2017. See: Carter v. Michigan, State of Michigan Court of Claims, Case No. 17-90-MZ; McHenry v. Michigan, State of Michigan Court of Claims, Case No. 17-144-MZ. 

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Related legal cases

Carter v. Michigan

McHenry v. Michigan