Though the University’s Innocence Clinic helped Dwayne Provience get out of jail last November, prosecutors now plan to retry the case.
Provience, 36, was tried and convicted of the murder of Detroit resident Rene Hunter in 2001. With the help of the Law School’s Innocence Clinic, University Law students got Provience’s conviction thrown out by a Wayne County judge on Nov. 3, 2009 on the grounds of withheld evidence.
Though the Law students thought the case was over when Provience was set free, the prosecution has now called for the case to be retried.
Innocence clinic officials said legal constraints prevent them from commenting on why the prosecution is motioning for a retrial.
In a Detroit News article published in December, Maria Miller, spokeswoman for Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, said the prosecution intends to proceed with the case, but also would not comment on the specifics of the retrial.
“It is appropriate for a jury to hear this case and make a decision based upon the evidence we will produce at trial,” Miller said in the article.
Provience was originally convicted of murder based on the testimony of Detroit resident Larry Wiley, who said Provience shot Hunter while Provience and his brother drove by in a beige Buick two-door.
After a hearing last year, Wiley said he was not at the scene of the crime and recanted his 2001 testimony.
In a hearing held on Jan. 27, Circuit Court Judge Timothy Kenny ruled Wiley can’t testify in the retrial scheduled for April 5 without incriminating himself for lying under oath during the first trial. If Wiley doesn’t testify on April 5, his testimony from the first trial cannot be used as evidence either.
A police report that surfaced in December cites seven eyewitnesses who claimed the shooter was driving a vehicle that looked different than the beige Buick that Wiley had described in his original testimony.
While five witnesses agreed that it was a Chevy, and three of the five said it was a Caprice Classic four-door sedan, two witnesses were unsure of the model but said that it was a grey color.
Brett DeGroff, second-year Law student and Innocence Clinic student attorney, said the two recent developments — the “factual development” of the newly-discovered documents citing witnesses and the likelihood that Wiley’s testimony from the first trial cannot be used — are key to keeping Provience from being put back in jail.
Witness Jannie Halliburton testified that she was behind the shooters’ grey vehicle and saw part of the license plate number.
“I don’t remember the letters, but I remember 734,” Halliburton said in a police statement.
The Innocence Clinic obtained documentation from the prosecution in December 2009 — filed on April 26, 2002 — that lists cars owned by Antrimone Mosley, one of the Mosley brothers linked to Hunter’s murder and two other murders unrelated to Provience’s case, according to police officer progress notes.
The newly-obtained document states that Mosley owned a 1985 four-door Chevy Caprice Classic with the license plate 7CXM34 during the time of Hunter’s murder, and the Vehicle Identification Number classifies the vehicle as grey.
In November, Detroit police officer William Ashford told prosecutors that evidence points to the Mosley family and not Provience.
Ashford’s investigation revealed the murders of Detroit residents Courtney Irving and Maurice “Bangy” Sutherland were linked to Hunter’s homicide in 2000 and that all three had some connection to the Mosley family.
Students in the Innocence Clinic are arguing that the Mosleys killed Hunter because the Mosleys suspected Hunter stole their trailer full of marijuana. The students allege the Mosleys murdered Irving a month later because Irving knew that the Mosleys shot Hunter. Sutherland was murdered a few months later when the Mosleys also suspected him of stealing the trailer.
David Moran, co-director of the Innocence Clinic at the University, said the Innocence Clinic has filed discovery motions to gain access to Irving and Sutherland’s homicide files, but the prosecution has yet to give the documents to the students.
“We’ve asked for them, and we’ve hit a stone wall,” Moran said.
Robyn Goldberg, second-year Law student and Innocence Clinic student attorney, said if the prosecution does not give the requested documents to the Innocence Clinic, the clinic will request that the judge order them to do so during a hearing scheduled for March 5.