Detroit man freed from prison after life sentence is overturned

WMU’s Cooley Law School Innocence Project overturns conviction

A Detroit man who had been convicted in 2005 for double-homicide and arson walked away a free man after a judge overturned his conviction.

IONIA, Mich. – There was a happy reunion Thursday afternoon outside the Michigan Reformatory state prison.

A Detroit man who had been convicted in 2005 for double-homicide and arson walked away a free man after a judge overturned his conviction.

The Western Michigan University Cooley Law School Innocence Project now claims 28 convictions overturned.

RELATED: Man freed after 26 years of wrongful imprisonment for Detroit murder

Thanks to the Innocence Project, Kenneth Nixon is now a free man.

Back in May 2005, a house fire on Detroit’s Charleston Street took the lives of 10-year-old Raylan McCauley and his 18-month-old sister, Tamaya Vaughn.

A molotov cocktail had been thrown into the home as a family of six was inside.

At the time, Detroit police arrested 19-year-old Nixon and his girlfriend Latoya Caulford.

“I was arrested and taken downtown,” Nixon recalled. “I had no idea a crime even occurred.”

Caulford was acquitted, but Nixon received a live sentence without possibility of parole.

The Innocence Project found the original identification that came from a 13-year-old boy and a jailhouse informant weren’t reliable and overturned the conviction.

The mother of two children who were killed, Naomi Vaughn, did not agree with the conviction being overturned.

“There should be a retrial,” Vaughn said. “This is so unfair.”

Nixon said he understands her anger, but he’s ready to move on with his life. He said he’s earned his GED and spent years in the Law Library and he wants to help out the Innocence Project that helped him get his life back.

“I want to be able to help other guys and give back to the organizations that helped me,” Nixon said. “The people who were there for me, I want to reach back and help the guys fighting for their freedom as well.”

Nixon said he’s headed home to Detroit to see his mother, who has been cooking his favorite foods he missed out on over the past 16 years.

More information can be found on the Innocence Project’s official website here.


About the Authors:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.