Charges dropped: Judge dismisses case against Highers brothers

Judge: 'It doesn't take sides to congratulate them, wish them good luck with their lives'

DETROIT - On Thursday, a judge formally dismissed the criminal charges against Raymond and Thomas Highers -- the brothers who served 25 years in prison for the killing of Robert Karey in Detroit in 1987.

Before a packed courtroom, Judge Lawrence Talon said, "The court is going to dismiss the case against the defendants without prejudice. That is the court's ruling."

"We're free. The truth spoke. We're home. We're just wanting  to live now that's it,' said Raymond Highers.

Both brothers let themselves show their emotion about officially being free men.

"Now we have no restrictions. We can you know do or see things that we haven't been able to do and see in many many years," said Tom Highers.

The Highers spent 25 years in prison for Karey's murder.

The case was overturned last year and the brothers were released from prison in August 2012 on bond.  They were granted a re-trial when a new witness came forward with information. That trial was set to begin in October.

But prosecutor Kym Worthy's office released a statement Wednesday afternoon that it wanted to dismiss the case.  "Just as we did 26 years ago, we firmly believe in the evidence in this case. We have worked diligently to bring this case to trial. With the passage of time it is an unfortunate reality that this case cannot be put back together and we must dismiss it. Sadly, in this case justice was not done," Worthy said in the news release.

Wayne County prosecutors said in court Thursday reiterated they believe the brothers are guilty but decided not to retry this case.

"In the 26 years that have passed since the crime occurred we have had witnesses die, witnesses' memory be affected, witnesses' legal statuses changed. We had physical evidence that can no longer can be located," said a prosecutor in court.

This morning Judge Talon had to rule whether to dismiss the case with or without prejudice.  He sided with prosecutors and dismissed the case without prejudice, giving Wayne County an opportunity to try this case again at a later date.

However, prior to his ruling, Talon said he learned about the request to drop the charges through media reports.

"The court learned yesterday that the prosecutor intended to do that. The media contacted us and requested permission to cover the case. The media knew about this before the court -- because it was sent to the media before it was sent to me."

Talon also took a few minutes to discuss what "justice means."

He said aloud, "Does being unhappy with the outcome mean that justice was not done? (sic) It is troublesome to me that a prosecutor, once a judge, doesn't believe justice was done in this case. The prosecutor was simply unhappy with the outcome."

Despite this harsh words, Talon did grant the request of both the prosecutor and the lawyers representing the Highers brothers.

"It doesn't take sides to congratulate them and wish them good luck with their lives. Having heard the prosecutor's motion and the request from the defense that it be with prejudice. The court is going to dismiss the case against the defendants without prejudice. That is the court's ruling," he said.

"That means that you know if they ever want to produce some type of new evidence that could always bring the charges back up on us which is unfortunate, I mean it's not right," said Tom Higher.

The ankle tethers the brothers wore for the last year since their release were removed after Thursday's hearing.

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