Highers brothers granted bond, released after nearly 25 years in prison

Thomas, Raymond Highers convicted in 1987 murder; judge rules they'll get new trial


Two Michigan brothers were granted bond and released from prison Monday after nearly 25 years behind bars for a murder they say they never committed.

Raymond and Thomas Highers were sentenced to life in prison for the 1987 murder of a suspected Detroit drug dealer - Robert Karey.

Images: Highers brothers released from prison

A judge granted the brothers each a $10,000 bond or 10 percent on Monday. The family has put up $1,000 per brother. When released they are ordered to wear tethers each day from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. They were released from prison Monday night.

Watch: Uncut: Highers brothers released from prison

Moreover, the brothers will not be allowed to have alcohol at the Roseville home which they will be staying at with an aunt. They will have to undergo random urinalysis and attend drug and alcohol meetings three times each week.

A Wayne County Prosecutor's Office spokeswoman said the brothers had to be fitted for tethers which is why they were not immediately released after posting 10 percent of their bond on Monday.

"Just being with family and being able to love and feel that love ... we've just been hardened in there all these years by people who have done something wrong and here we are," said Thomas Highers. "I'm just glad, so glad to be here with my family."

Monday night was all about family and spaghetti and meatballs, the two things the Highers brothers say they've missed the most.

They want to visit their mother's grave on Tuesday. She never gave up on them. She went to her grave believing one day her boys would be free.

"A lot of people worked hard to get us out and to prove our innocence, and we're still trying to do that, but we're gonna work hard and we're not gonna let anybody down," Ray Highers said.

-- The brothers were released on bond Monday night.

Highers brothers await new trial

They are now getting a new trial -- set to start in mid August, according to court authorities -- after developments stemming from conversations on a Facebook page for people who had lived in a Detroit neighborhood in past decades.

One of those former neighborhood residents, Mary Evans, mentioned the Highers and "how horrible it is" that they remained in jail for a crime that she said many believed they did not commit. That prompted a man named Kevin Zieleniewski to converse about his former roommate who apparently witnessed two men with guns enter victim Karey's home just prior to a shooting that left Karey dead.

The ex-roommate, John Hielscher, said a total of four men entered the house that night on June 26, 1987, according to a 2011 affidavit.

Hielscher described all four men as African-American, according to the affidavit. Raymond and Thomas Highers are white.

Hielscher's testimony prompted Wayne County Court Judge Lawrence Talon to throw out the decades-old murder convictions last week.

"The court found that the new evidence we found was reliable and credible," said Highers' attorney Janet Napp. "These men have proclaimed their innocence all these years and nothing has changed. Finally because of Facebook, witnesses have been discovered."

In the affidavit, Hielscher said he hadn't come forward out of fear the real killers would come after him.

The Wayne County prosecutors office declined to comment, though it can appeal the court's decision to overturn the past conviction, according to office spokeswoman Maria Miller.

Psychologist testifies about brothers' function in society

Lyle Danuloff, a licensed psychologist out of Farmington Hills, said he spent time with both brothers performing tests and assessments to determine any risk factors that might exists if they were let loose back into society.

"Criminal issues aside, it's a story of a 21-year-old and 22-year-old kid who is re-entering the world that is 25-years different than the world they left. They might as well be on a different planet," Danuloff said. "If you consider just human, child-like curiosity, and the fact that they're not 47 years of age, they're not necessarily psychologically 47 years of age. I think that knowing where they are in general is good for society and is a matter of a fact good for them. They have an enormous amount of adjusting to do."

Family wants brothers to come home

Local 4's Paula Tutman talked with the brothers' aunt and uncle, who have already set up a room with beds for them to come home to.

READ: Home sweet home will feel like another planet

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