2 men released from prison after serving nearly 20 years for Detroit murder they didn't commit

Kendrick Scott, Justly Johnson wrongfully convicted in 1999 murder case

DETROIT – Two men were released from prison Wednesday after spending nearly 20 years behind bars for a crime they didn't commit.

Kendrick Scott and Justly Johnson walked free Wednesday, nearly 20 years after they were wrongfully convicted of a 1999 Mother's Day murder in Detroit.

"I knew I was innocent from the time I got convicted, so I knew it would come," Scott said.

"It's a tragedy and it's sickening that we had to suffer 20 years in the first place for the mistakes of the Detroit Police Department," Johnson said.

The men said their loved ones stuck by them.

"I was living to see this day," said Earnestine Smith, Scott's mother.

It's the same for Johnson's mother, Tisha Johnson.

"I always kept the faith," Tisha Johnson said. "I always, always prayed, always said God will let him come home, and that day is here."

"I dreamed about this moment for 20 years, fought hard, screamed loud, and it feels good," Johnson said.

Scott and Johnson were sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder of Lisa Kindred on Mother's Day in 1999. 

The Michigan Innocence Clinic and investigator, Scott Lewis, worked on both cases for 10 years. 

"They were tried based on questionable evidence at the time that became more questionable over the years," said Imran Syed, the Assistant Director of the Michigan Innocence Clinic. ​​​​​​

Syed said a big reason why the men were exonerated was because of the victim's son. 

"The victim's (Kindred) own son in fact testified and saw the shooter and it was neither of these men, yet it took years to finally get to this day where they are being released. The post-conviction process can be frustratingly long," said Syed. 

The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office dismissed the charges against Scott and Johnson Wednesday morning.

About the Authors:

Koco joined the Local 4 News team in September of 2016. She was born and raised in Metro Detroit, attended Central Michigan University, and previously worked at WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids.

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.