Davontae Sanford Pursues Civil Case Against Detroit
Davontae Sanford was 14 years old when he found himself at the scene of four murders. He had been in the area where police were investigating the scene when officers approached and began to question him. The officers took Sanford, who was wearing his sleep attire, to the police station because they believed he had information regarding the murders. Unbeknownst to Sanford, however, the police would soon pin him as the primary suspect in the killings.
According to reports, the police repeatedly questioned Sanford at the station for two days, trying to get as much information out of him as they could. Like many other youths, Sanford was prone to expressing himself through fictitious stories. However, the officers were not taking Sanford’s stories lightly, and soon after the questioning, they pinned the murders on the teenager. Sanford, the news reports, had been illiterate and had learning difficulties at the time.
During Sanford’s trial in 2008, he admitted to the multiple homicides in what reports say was part of a plea agreement. The judge sentenced him to up to 90 years behind bars in an adult prison. A spokesperson from the Michigan Innocence Clinic stated Sanford’s confession was the product of repeated questioning without a lawyer or guardian present, and that his statements were largely inconsistent with police findings.
Four years after Sanford’s conviction, Vincent Smothers, an alleged hitman who was currently behind bars, confessed to the four murders. With this new glimpse of hope, Sanford attempted to repeal the charges against him. However, in a surprising strike, the court did not allow Sanford to go through with the repeal, and he remained in prison with no hope of getting out.
It was not until 2014 that lawyers, working for free, decided to lend Sanford their aid. Smothers submitted a lengthy document in which he came clean about the four murders that the court had pinned on Sanford. In it, Smothers stated that he had never had any association with Sanford, or even knew who he was. He said that the court had wrongfully blamed Sanford for the killings.
The lawyers pursued their finding in court, and started an investigation to prove Sanford’s innocence. In 2017 and after nine years behind bars, the court recognized Sanford’s innocence and released him from prison. Now, as a result of the misjustice against him by the city of Detroit, Sanford is pursuing a civil case to recoup what he had lost during his incarceration. As always, we will update you when we have more!