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Man testifies in 1987 Detroit murder case

Man's testimony could help free brothers serving life sentences for 1987 Detroit murder

Thomas and Raymond Highers

DETROIT – John Hielscher could hold the key to freedom for two brothers who are jailed for killing a Detroit man in 1987.

Thomas and Raymond Highers are 24 years into serving a life sentence for the murder of Robert Karey, a 65-year-old marijuana dealer who was shot dead in June 1987 at his Detroit home.

Hielscher testified under oath on Monday. He said he was buying marijuana from Karey when several black men with guns stormed the Detroit home and fired a shot.

He said the Highers brothers are not to blame for Karey's death.

"I was backing away when the African American gentlemen were coming over the fence toward the house," Hielscher said. "I saw a larger African American male with what appeared to be a shotgun."

The Highers brothers are white.

Hielscher said he is coming forward in the brothers' defense 24 years later because it is the right thing to do. He said he never saw the Highers brothers before Monday in court. He never spoke up because he feared for his safety and did not know Karey was murdered until years later.

His words could mean the difference between a life in prison or freedom for the brothers.

Prosecution has said there are inconsistencies in Heilscher's story.

It could take some time before a judge rules in this case and the brothers learn their fate.

Thomas Highers is now 46 and Raymond Highers is 45.

Thomas and Raymond Highers

-- Thomas and Raymond Highers