Muhammad Ali’s daughter joins fight to overturn Michigan man’s murder conviction

Team has been in contact with Whitmer’s staff, requesting clemency

Muhammad Ali’s daughter has joined the fight claiming a Michigan man’s innocence after he was convicted of murdering a St. Clair Community College student in 1986.

For decades, innocence clinics and private investigators have pleaded the innocence of Temujin Kensu.

Kensu, formally known as Fred Freeman, has been in prison for more than 30 years for the 1986 murder of Scott Macklem.

A popular crime podcast, “Wrongful Conviction,” recently released an episode about Kensu’s case. That episode caught the attention of Khaliah Ali.

Ali, the daughter of Muhammad Ali, came to Michigan Monday (May 22) to meet with Kensu at a Macomb County prison.

“I truly believe that if my father was here today that this is the cause he would be fighting,” Ali said.

Wrongful Conviction co-host Maggie Freleng said there are many red flags that make Kensu’s case stand out. Freleng and many others are convinced Kensu could not have committed the crime because his alibi has him hundreds of miles away from the crime scene in Port Huron.

Multiple witnesses testified that Kensu was in Escanaba, in the Upper Peninsula, at the time of the murder. The prosecutor suggested Kensu could have chartered a private plane to get there and back, but there’s no evidence of such flight.

“When you look at that and say, ‘OK, how was this person who was 400 miles away able to murder this person,’” Freleng said. “It makes no sense. And then you keep digging, and you realize there was a prosecutor who was looking to climb politically. It all has the hallmarks of wrongful convictions.”

Freleng said a witness for the prosecution later admitted to lying on the stand.

Kensu’s attorney said the conviction has never been successfully overturned due to legal procedural rules and technicalities.

Kensu’s ex-girlfriend was dating the victim at the time of his murder.

“Police became overly attracted to this easy narrative of the jealous ex-boyfriend must have done it,” said Kensu’s attorney Imran Syed.

“I had the ability to see him the other day and see him eye-to-eye and hug him and say hello,” Ali said. “I know that he’s a human being, not a wild animal or a dangerous killer. It really filled my heart with that much more fight that we’re going to need to pull him through this.”

Kensu and his wife Paula gifted Ali a charm bracelet as a sign of their gratitude and a token to remember his story.

“I will look at this bracelet every day and keep Temujin in mind and heart, and with this fist, keep up the fight,” Ali said.

Ali said their team has been in contact with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s staff, requesting clemency for Kensu.

Previous requests for clemency, in this case, have been denied.

About the Authors:

Jacqueline Francis is an award-winning journalist who joined the WDIV team in September 2022. Prior to Local 4, she reported for the NBC affiliate in West Michigan. When she’s not on the job, Jacqueline enjoys taking advantage of all the wonders Michigan has to offer, from ski trips up north to beach days with her dog, Ace.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.