Temujin Kensu, formally known as Fred Freeman, has been in prison for more than 30 years for the 1986 murder of Scott Macklem, a student at St. Clair Community College.
However, it’s a murder that at least nine people said he couldn’t have possibly committed.
“This whole case has been manipulated from the very beginning, which is why I have not just University of Michigan and all the innocence groups, but people all around the world looking at it," Kensu said.
Authorities pointed the finger at Kensu because of an ex-lover’s ties with Macklem. But Kensu was more than 400 miles away in the Upper Peninsula in the town of Escanaba with his ex-fiance Michelle Woodworth.
“I was with him that entire morning, that entire day. So, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he did not do this crime and that he’s been in prison for over 33 years,” said Woodworth.
“We woke up around that time and we went into town that day."
In lieu of making a six-hour drive from Escanaba to Port Huron in time for the murder, prosecuting attorney Robert Cleland claimed that then 23-year-old Kensu was somehow able to use a charter plane to travel by the time of the 9 a.m. crime.
“He would have had to commit the murder, get back to wherever this airplane was at, fly in from Escanaba and then get a ride into town. That’s still cutting it close even with an airplane,” said Herbert Welser Jr., a retired officer and private investigator.
Welser worked for the Port Huron Police Department at the time of the murder. He said the more he looks into the case, the more red flags he sees in Kensu’s defense.
“At the end of the day, he had nothing to do with this murder. That’s why I’m trying to help him,” Welser said.
Red flags included Kensu’s defense attorney having a known drug problem and not calling certain witnesses to the stand like Woodworth. An eyewitness, who also testified Kensu as the gunman, later revealed he was lying on the stand.
In 2010, Judge Denise Hood overturned the conviction in a 52-page reversal and stating that the prosecuting attorney “engaged in misconduct by using a perjured testimony”.
However, that decision was reversed because of a scheduling technicality. Now, Kensu is looking for help from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
“Right now, I’m have more hope with Gov. Whitmer than any other previous administration. It really is the worst wrongful conviction you’re ever going to find,” Kensu said.
In addition, Kensu is fighting COVID-19. Local 4 reached out to both Attorney General Dana Nessel and Whitmer to see where they stand on all of this. So far we have not received a response.
Cleland went on to become a U.S. district judge. He declined to comment.