Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy and the WCPO Conviction Integrity Unit, headed by Director Valerie Newman, are announcing a grant of relief for prisoner Larry D. Smith, (DOB: 08/25/1975), on Thursday, February 4, 2021, at an 11:00 a.m. hearing before Judge Shannon Walker. Mr. Smith was 19-years-old when he was convicted of First-Degree Murder and Felony Firearm on November 29, 1994. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole in the Michigan Department of Corrections on December 22, 1994.
Facts of the Case
On March 24, 1994, in the early morning hours at a location in the 2200 block of Annabelle in the City of Detroit it was alleged that Mr. Smith killed Kenneth Hayes. During the trial there was no one that testified that they saw the shooter's face. The sole eyewitness identification testimony regarding Mr. Smith as the shooter was based on gait and body shape of a person running away from the scene. There was never any testimony that established that Mr. Smith had a distinctive gait or body shape. There was no conclusive forensic evidence that linked Mr. Smith to the case.
There was testimony in the case from a jail house informant claiming that Smith had confessed the murder to him. The informant's information was later discredited because it may have been fabricated to obtain police favors in his case. Smith denied making any confessions to the informant and has always maintained his innocence.
Recommendation of the WCPO Conviction Integrity Unit
As a result of the extensive investigation, the Conviction Integrity Unit will move the court to grant the relief of a new trial. Due to the passage of time it is not possible for the case to be re-tried, so the CIU will request that the Court dismiss all charges against Mr. Smith. Due to computer issues with the Third Circuit Court there was not a court hearing. Today Judge Shannon Walker signed the order dismissing all charges against Mr. Smith. WCPO has been advised that the Michigan Department of Corrections released Mr. Smith this afternoon.
"After a thorough review of the investigation and evidence in this case we have determined that Mr. Smith certainly is entitled to a new trial", said Prosecutor Worthy. "We found that the Detroit Police Department's informant was unreliable as well as the testimony of a key witness. There were other issues as well. While we cannot state that this is an exoneration, we are very certain that the trial process was not just."
"After 26 years of wrongful imprisonment, justice has finally been done, due to the incredible work of the Conviction Integrity Unit. Larry finally has his life back", said Smith's Attorney Mary Owens.