Wayne County Prosecutor's Office CIU Dismisses Murder Charges
Against Edward Khalil
On Monday July 13, 2020, Judge Tracey E. Green ordered the dismissal of Second Degree Murder and Felony Firearm charges against Edward Khalil, based upon newly discovered evidence. The evidence was found as a result of an investigation conducted by the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) headed by Director Valerie Newman. Mr. Khalil is represented by attorney Elizabeth Jacobs. The dismissal was done by order of the court, without an in-court hearing, in agreement with all parties, due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Summary of the Facts
Edward Khalil's convictions for Second Degree Murder and Felony Firearm arose from the shooting death of Anthony Jones, who was shot while trespassing in a vacant apartment building in the 930 block of Covington in Detroit in the early morning hours of September 15, 2011. Mr. Khalil and his business partner owned the building, which was undergoing renovations. The prosecution maintained that either Mr. Khalil shot the deceased, Anthony Jones, or that he directed a male employee, to shoot Jones. Mr. Khalil claimed that he was at least seven miles away when Jones was shot, and that he did not direct his employee to kill Jones. Mr. Khalil was charged with First Degree Murder and Felony Firearm. His first trial was appealed, and a new trial was ordered by the Third Circuit Court. Mr. Khalil was convicted of Second Degree Murder and Felony Firearm after the second jury trial. On December 18, 2017, he was sentenced to 16 Â½ to 30 years on the Second Degree Murder charge and two years consecutive on the Felony Firearm charge.
According to the prosecution's theory at trial, Khalil and his business partner were frustrated by the Detroit Police Department's failure to arrest scrappers, and this homicide was the result of that frustration. On the morning of the killing, a male employee of the two men told police that he killed Jones. The man recanted several months later, claiming that he was told to admit to the killing by Mr. Khalil and his business partner. Two other witnesses supported the prosecution. A copper scrapper who was present at the time Mr. Jones was shot, testified that earlier in the evening, he heard a person with a heavy foreign accent say, "I don't want them arrested, I want them killed."
The surviving scrapper said that he was behind Mr. Jones as he was exiting the window, when he heard a boom, and he saw Mr. Jones drop. The scrapper claimed at trial that he looked out a window a short time after the shooting and saw a person he would later identify as Mr. Khalil with a gun in his hand. This testimony, however, conflicted with his first account to police - that once Mr. Jones was killed, he ran immediately and hid in the upper floors of the building. The third prosecution witness was a woman who claimed that she heard a loud boom, and that at some later point, she saw a person near the window with a shotgun and a flashlight. She said that she heard someone with a foreign accent say something like "we got the mother------". She later identified this person as Mr. Khalil.
Exculpatory Information Revealed by the CIU Investigation
Exculpatory information, from the two trials and from the CIU investigation, undermine the prosecution's case. First, cell tower records from the night of the shooting show that Khalil's phone was seven miles away from the shooting at the time of the killing. A trial claim by the male employee of Mr. Khalil and his business partner, that he heard a woman's voice when he called Khalil's cell phone, has now been significantly refuted. The employee told police at the scene that he was talking to Mr. Khalil, not a woman, on the cell phone. Moreover, the employee's claim of talking to a woman surfaced nearly a year later, after the cell tower records were discovered. Second, the son of Mr. Khalil's business partner was interviewed recently by the CIU. He said that at all key moments, Mr. Khalil was talking to him on his cell phone, and that there was no woman on the other end of the line. Third, surveillance cameras near the shooting scene show only the male employee coming and going. Fourth, the son of the business partner of Mr. Khalil says that he arrived after the shooting, simultaneously with Mr. Khalil, both converging on the window, where they saw Jones' dead body for the first time.
Significant evidence now also undermines the prosecution's aiding and abetting theory regarding Mr. Khalil. The male employee testified that Mr. Khalil never said, "I don't want them arrested, I want them killed", and that he never said, "We got the mother-------." The CIU interview with the business partner revealed that only he has a thick foreign accent. Khalil does not have an accent. Additionally, the son of Mr. Khalil's business partner, who is a new witness, says that he was present throughout the evening, and Edward Khalil never made either statement.
CIU's analysis shows that several circumstances contributed to flawed factfinding in this case. Mr. Khalil's business partner was reluctant to testify during the case, and he was reluctant to get his son involved. When the business partner was ultimately persuaded to return to give testimony at a post-conviction hearing, he was appointed an attorney by the Court. This witness chose not to testify upon the advice of counsel. As a result, he did not take the witness stand.
The newly discovered evidence in this case substantiates that Mr. Khalil was not involved in the crimes for which he was charged and convicted of in this case. Wayne County Prosecutor's Office CIU investigation into the facts of the case warrants that the convictions and sentences in this case be vacated and all charges be dismissed in the best interests of justice.