Here's What Happened to the Detroit Officer Who Created Evidence Used to Convict a Teen of Murder

Here's What Happened to the Detroit Officer Who Created Evidence Used to Convict a Teen of Murder

Read how the details of the case unfolded.

Published July 13th

In 2010, 14-year-old Davontae Sanford was convicted of the murder of four people in Michigan. The crux of the case rested on the interrogation of Sanford and a drawing of the crime scene that former Detroit Deputy Chief James Tolbert claimed that Sanford had drawn.

Just a few weeks after Sanford was convicted of the murders, a Detroit hit man named Vincent Smothers took responsibility for the killings. Afterward, it was alleged that Sanford had poor representation and was coerced into a false confession by Tolbert.

Now, that made many wonder why he would draw an accurate picture of the crime scene if he had nothing to do with the killing. A Michigan State Police investigation began and new evidence suggested that Tolbert had fabricated the drawing all along.

It’s important to note that the drawing of the crime scene was one of the major pieces of evidence originally used to convict Sanford. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said that during the investigation, the prosecutor’s office found out that Tolbert had actually created the drawing, even though he testified in 2010 that the drawing came 100% from Sanford.

Years after Sanford was falsely convicted, he was only recently released, even though someone else confessed to the killings in 2010. And now, Worthy is saying that there is not enough evidence to seek a conviction against Tolbert.

In the statement, Worthy said:

“The bottom line is that there is an important legal distinction between acting on evidence that undermines a conviction, and proving beyond a reasonable doubt that someone has committed perjury.”  

Well, even though they were able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a teen was guilty of killing four people, they appeared to have trouble doing the same for an officer who more or less admitted to lying.

After the announcement, Taminko Sanford-Tilmon, Davontae's mother, posted her reaction on Facebook.

This is unfortunately just another case that proves the flaws in our justice system. 

Written by Rachel Herron

(Photo from left: AP Photo/Paul Sancya, AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

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