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On Tuesday, April 21, 2020, Judge Shannon Walker dismissed murder charges against Kevin Harrington and George Clark based upon newly discovered evidence. The evidence was found as a result of a six month investigation conducted by the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) headed by Director Valerie Newman. Mr. Harrington and Mr. Clark were not in court for the hearing due to issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr. Harrington was released from prison on April 21, 2020. Mr. Clark was released on bond from prison on April 8, 2020. See Appendix A for the procedural history of the cases.

Summary of the Facts

In September 2002, Michael Martin was shot to death in a field across from the apartment where he lived in Inkster. His body was discovered and the police were called. A witness who called the police was taken to the police station and questioned for hours. After denying witnessing the event, the witness eventually told the police that they saw George Clark and Kevin Harrington physically assault Mr. Martin, drag him into the field and heard shots fired. The witness then went to bed and called the police after the witness was approached about someone having discovered the body in the field. There was no physical evidence linking Mr. Clark and Mr. Harrington to the shooting. In February 2003, Mr. Harrington and Mr. Clark were convicted of First Degree Murder.

In 2019 and 2020, the CIU conducted a six month investigation of the cases. As a result, new witnesses and evidence were found in the case. The CIU found a disturbing pattern of behavior from the original lead detective that involved threatening and coercing a number of witnesses.

Conclusion

The CIU investigation has established that Mr. Harrington and Mr. Clark did not receive a fair trial as a result of the conduct of the original lead detective.* WCPO is recommending that the Inkster Police Department contact an outside agency to investigate this case.

The murder case will not be re-tried because the only inculpatory witness repeatedly said they saw nothing and that they were coerced by the detective into implicating Mr. Clark and Mr. Harrington. Now that the CIU has interviewed other witnesses who claimed they were threatened and coerced by the detective, this witness's claim has much more credibility.

WCPO has not reached any conclusion regarding actual innocence of Mr. Harrington and Mr. Clark.

The charges in the case were dismissed because the issues with the original lead detective were such that the conduct materially impacted the integrity of the verdict.

*The name of the detective is not being released at this time because he will be the subject of an investigation.

Appendix A

Procedural History of Kevin Harrington's Case
  • After his conviction, Mr. Harrington was granted a new trial.
  • In May 2005, the second trial resulted in a mistrial due to a hung jury,
  • In October 2005, a third trial resulted in a mistrial due to a hung jury.
  • In January 2006, Mr. Harrington was convicted of First Degree Murder in a jury trial and was sentenced to life without parole in February 2006.
  • Mr. Harrington filed an appeal and, in March 2008, the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction.
  • In February 2009, the Michigan Supreme Court denied his leave to appeal.
  • In December 2010, a motion for relief from judgment was filed and denied in the Trial Court.
  • In September 2011, leave to appeal was denied by the Court of Appeals.
  • In June 2010, leave to appeal was denied by the Michigan Supreme Court.
  • In July 2012, Mr. Harrington filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus with the Federal District Court, which was denied in August 2014.
  • In 2015, the Sixth Circuit denied a certificate of appealability. Procedural History of George Clark's Case
  • In February 2003, Mr. Clark filed a motion for new trial that was denied and he was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
  • From 2004 until 2016, Mr. Clark pursued a series unsuccessful appeals.
  • In 2016, he exhausted all of his state appellate remedies.
  • In 2008, Mr. Clark filed his first petition for a writ of habeas corpus in Federal District Court, which was denied in 2010.
  • In 2013, he filed a second habeas petition which was denied in Federal Court.
  • In 2015, the Sixth Circuit Court authorized Mr. Clark to file a habeas corpus petition; an amended petition was filed in 2017.
  • In July 2018, Mr. Clark was granted a writ of habeas corpus in Federal District Court ordering the release of Mr. Clark or afford him a new trial.
  • In August 2018, a stay of issuance of the writ was granted to the State of Michigan, pending the outcome of the State's appeal.
  • In August 2019, the Sixth Circuit reversed the District Court's grant of a writ of habeas corpus and remanded the case go an evidentiary hearing.
  • In March 2020, an emergency motion for release in bond considering the CIU's pending recommendation and the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • On April 8, 2020, the motion for Mr. Clark's release was granted.
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