WMU-Cooley Law School Innocence Project Gains Another Release
When Wayne County Judge Bruce Morrow set aside the conviction of Kenneth Nixon today, it was another legal victory for the Western Michigan University Innocence Project. Morrow's ruling confirmed Nixon was wrongfully convicted of murder, attempted murder and arson in 2005.
Some background on the case:
On May 19, 2005, a Molotov cocktail was thrown into a home on Charleston street in Detroit, causing the deaths of a 10-year-old boy and a 1-year-old girl. The mother and other children, including her 13-year-old son were also in the home and sustained injuries. Nixon and his then girlfriend, Latoya Caulford, were charged with two counts of felony murder, one count of arson and four counts of attempted murder. Caulford, accused of driving Nixon to the Charleston house, was acquitted after a separate jury trial on Sept. 21, 2005, but Nixon was convicted on all charges. - WMU/Cooley Law School release
With a story straight out of a TV procedural, the primary question at the trial was the identification of the person who threw the Molotov cocktail. Nixon steadfastly denied his involvement in the crime and presented evidence that he was with Caulford at her home during the time of the fire. Two alibi witnesses were presented to support his defense, but Caulford could not testify due to her own pending charges.
Prosecutors used statements made by the 13-year-old witness who was at the home at time of the fire, and the testimony of a jailhouse informant who was housed at the same jail as Nixon after his arrest. On August 29th, 2005, the informant received special consideration in an unrelated case. Then on August 30th, 2005, the informant gave a statement to police incriminating Nixon. Then, at the trial, the informant testified that he did not see news reports of the fire. But that same informant, in 2018, admitted that he in fact, had seen news coverage of the case, according to the WMU/Cooley Law School release
The WMU-Cooley Innocence Project working with the Wayne County Conviction Integrity Unit found new evidence that supported Nixon’s innocence and at the Cooley team request, the Wayne County Conviction Integrity Unit to re-investigate the case. That unit, based on their own investigation and findings, the Wayne County Conviction Integrity Unit requested a new trial and today got the dismissal of all charges.