Ohio high school students fight for clemency for Port Huron man convicted in 1986 murder

Students are studying forensic science

A Michigan man convicted of a murder he said he did not commit has an unlikely in a quest to clear his name.
A Michigan man convicted of a murder he said he did not commit has an unlikely in a quest to clear his name.

LANSING, Mich. – Temujin Kensu, formally known as Fred Freeman, was recently denied clemency by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer -- a decision that forensic students in Ohio are questioning.

Dasha and Ella are students at Oakwood High School in Dayton Ohio, they are studying forensic science. Their latest assignment was to look into the case of Kensu. Kensu has been in prison for 34 years for the murder of a college student at St. Clair Community College in the 80s. Many believe Kensu is innocent.

READ: Whitmer rejects clemency for man in 1986 Port Huron murder

“Anybody who reads it or hears about it, I feel, like, can agree that it’s pretty bizarre that he even would have been convicted in the first place,” Ella said.

The students are taking an entry-level forensics class in high school. They said looking at the evidence presented to the court when the case was tried -- they believe Kensu couldn’t have possibly committed the crime.

“Us, as teenagers, can look at the case and be like, ‘There’s no physical evidence to be able to connect him everything.’ But I think the most disappointing thing about the whole case is that it has been over 30 years,” Dasha said.

Their teacher, Melinda Wargacki, has had a hard time explaining why Kensu is still in prison.

“For him to spend 34 years behind bars. With absolutely nothing no fingerprints no DNA, no nothing. It’s just, they don’t understand. I mean, they do not get it at all. And it’s hard for me as a forensic science teacher to even explain it to them, because I don’t understand it myself,” Wargacki said.

Dasha, Ella and their classmates have been sending letters to Whitmer, pleading for her to reconsider Kensu’s request for clemency.

“They are hoping that she will see these letters and that they will mean something to her coming from a group of high school students -- not even in the state of Michigan, but in the state of Ohio,” Wargacki said.

Local 4 reached out to Governor Whitmer’s office to see why Kensu was denied clemency and get her reaction to the letters sent by students.

READ: Man convicted in 1987 murder case fights to have conviction overturned

About the Author:

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