Michigan Innocence Clinic pushing for Gov. Snyder to grant pardons to 3 men

Clinic believes evidence proves innocence

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Three Michigan men, who the Michigan Innocence Clinic believe were wrongfully convicted, are hoping Gov. Snyder will pardon them before he leaves office in January.

The University of Michigan's Innocence Clinic has filed clemency petitions for Frederick Freeman, Donyelle Woods and Mark Craighead.

Donyelle Woods. (WDIV)
Donyelle Woods. (WDIV)

The Innocence Clinic has worked on their cases for years, and believe evidence shows all three men are innocent of their convictions but, oftentimes it's difficult to overturn convictions in court.

"All three of these men have suffered long enough, and it's time for the governor to do the right thing," said David Moran, the director of the clinic.

Fred Freeman. (WDIV)
Fred Freeman. (WDIV)

In 2002, Mark Craighead was convicted of manslaughter in a 1997 murder. He got out on parole in 2009. The Innocence Clinic found evidence it believe proves his innocence. 

"What we were able to prove years later was that, on the night of the murder, he was in Farmington Hills working the overnight shift at Sam's Club," said Moran. 

The Innocence Clinic found phone records to prove Craighead was nowhere near the murder in Detroit. 

Craighead said he always proclaimed innocence in the case. 

"I was fighting a crime that I knew nothing about," said Craighead. 

Now, he's fighting to clear his name, along with the Michigan Innocence Clinic and several other allies. 

"I'm kinda like stuck in a rock and a hard place, but I'm not gonna stop fighting because, my family, they deserve it," Craighead said.

Due to the manslaughter conviction, Craighead has not been able to land a job since he got out on parole.

"I'm still in prison at this point in time because I can't get free. I still got that tag over my head. An incarcerated person can't get a real job," said Craighead. 

Instead, he started his own business called Safe Place Transition Center to help veterans and former inmates.

"It's just a wraparound service that we do for the veterans and returning citizens," said Craighead. 

Snyder has until the end of his term on Jan. 1 to pardon the men, if he chooses to do so. If he does not, Craighead and the Innocence Clinic plan to continue fighting. 

"We will continue to look for evidence, to see if we can find new evidence and, if necessary, we'll come back to the next governor," said Moran.

The governor's office released the following statement regarding the petitions:

"The governor is reviewing the recommendations for clemency that were made by the parole board with his legal team. There are dozens of requests for clemency that he is evaluating and he will make a decision on each of them as soon as he can."

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