BURTON, Mich. – The Michigan Supreme Court on Wednesday threw out the murder convictions of three people in the fatal shooting of a Flint-area teenager in 2007, saying their rights were violated when authorities failed to share favorable evidence with defense lawyers.
The evidence was a transcript of an interview between police and a 15-year-old boy who was a witness for prosecutors. It didn't turn up until 2014, long after the trial, when a public records request was filed.
The transcript didn't match what the teen had subsequently said at trial, inconsistencies that defense lawyers could have raised to attack his credibility, the Supreme Court said.
Lawyers had only a police-created summary of the interview.
The testimony was “central to the prosecution’s case, and the suppressed transcript would have significantly undermined it,” the court said in a 4-3 opinion written by Chief Justice Bridget McCormack.
“The defendants have demonstrated a reasonable probability that had it been disclosed, the result of the trial would have been different,” she wrote.
In 2007, Robert Person, 14, was fatally shot on a street corner in Burton, near Flint. Kino Christian, 43, and Joshun Edwards, 42, are serving life prison terms while C’Quan Hinton, 32, is serving at least 34 years in custody.
Genesee County Judge Joseph Farah agreed with defense lawyers that the transcript would have been favorable. But he noted that the lawyers had found other ways to try to impeach the witness' testimony.
Farah also said prosecutors presented other evidence against Christian, Edwards and Hinton.