Man convicted of 2009 murder at red light in Detroit waits years for retrial after jury misconduct

Another man confessed to the murder

Man convicted of murder waits years for retrial after another man confesses

DETROIT – Three times since 2017, federal and state court judges have ordered a new trial for Darrell Ewing.

The judges found that Ewing’s constitutional right to a fair trial was violated a decade ago by juror misconduct. Since Ewing’s conviction, another man has come forward confessing to the murder.

J.B. Watson was fatally shot on Dec. 29, 2009 while at a red light in Detroit. The shooting happened at the intersection of Harper Avenue and Van Dyke Street. Prosecutors said two vehicles pulled up to the intersection and shots were fired, killing Watson.

Derrico Searcy was convicted of second-degree murder and attempted murder. Darrell Ewing was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

A juror at the 2010 trial said information shared by other jurors about gangs and gang hierarchies persuaded her to convict Searcy and Ewing. One juror found a Facebook photo of Ewing with a gun.

Local 4 spoke with Ewing from prison. He has served more than 11 years.

Ewing said he is innocent and was at the Barden Hall Funeral Home on Whittier Avenue in Detroit the day of the shooting for a family member’s funeral. The family testified that he was there. That alibi was not enough to clear him.

“The really critical thing they did wrong was go on Google,” said Ewing’s attorney Christine Pagac. “And become Google experts on gang hierarchy.”

“Then this one juror was what they called a holdout. She wasn’t voting guilty. They were hung. She was like, ‘Oh, that Google research you did sounds very persuasive,” Pagac added.

Soon after, the jury came back with a guilty verdict. In time, the juror misconduct would come to light and three different judges would order a new trial for Ewing and Searcy.

At a new trial, jurors would likely hear from Tyree Washington, who came forward after Ewing was convicted. He signed an affidavit admitting to the murder of Watson.

Washington is currently in prison serving a life sentence.

“To me, it seems like it doesn’t be about the truth about closing the case,” Ewing said.

Ewing will be back in court on May 19.

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About the Authors:

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter and part of the Local 4 Defenders team.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.