Original Case Details
Ramon Ward was convicted of the murder of two women in 1994. He was 18 years old back on January 21st when he was charged in the deaths of two women at a vacant drug house in Detroit. There were no physical evidence or eyewitnesses linking Ward to the murders. His conviction was based on a pair of jailhouse snitches an unsigned “confession” that a Detroit cop tried to push as true. Prosecutors believed that Ward had enticed the women to the Detroit drug house in order to steal a disability check from one of the women and then shot the women, killing them. Two men who shared a cell with Ward at Detroit Police Headquarters came forward claiming that Ward had confessed to them that he committed the murders. One of the snitches received a reduced murder sentence from 12-25 years to time served. The other jailhouse snitch was facing up to 15 years for a breaking and entering while being a habitual offender. His sentence ended up being one-year probation for his cooperation with police. Ward was convicted and served 26 years in prison for murders he did not commit until he was exonerated.
Why Was He Exonerated?
The use of jailhouse snitches was common practice during that time period in Detroit. These snitches would testify that they heard a cell mate confess to a crime in order to receive reduced sentences or other special treatment. This practice is still used today but not at the rate that it once was, for good reason. There are multiple appeals from people who say they were wrongfully convicted by the false testimony of one of the snitches. The police who operated the 9th floor holding cells at the former Detroit Police Headquarters had a reputation for misusing jailhouse snitches. At least three men locked up during that time have signed affidavits stating that police would ask them to falsely claim they heard cell mates confessing to murders. The police would offer reduced sentences for doing so. This looked like a systemic problem where the police were trying to close cases as quickly as possible. One of the snitches in this case was used in over 20 murder cases. After a present-day investigation of this case, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office is confident they have identified the true killer in this case, not Ramon Ward. The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office has now dismissed Ward’s charges as part of the Prosecutor’s Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU).
The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Conviction Integrity Unit
The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office created the Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) in January of 2018. This unit’s main job is to investigate cases that resulted in questionable convictions. Convictions that may not be true and are based on evidence that has now been shown to be unreliable or false. 15 case convictions have now been overturned since the inception of this department. The unit has one full-time prosecutor, two that are part time, a full-time investigator and one full-time staff member to support. There are almost 60 CIUs across the United States. There have been almost 400 cases that have been overturned due to CIU efforts nationwide. These nearly 400 prisoners have been finally exonerated after spending time in prison for crimes they did not commit. There are other projects similar to a Prosecutor’s CIU program, but they are typically innocence projects that work from the defense side. The prosecutor has much greater authority over these cases and can offer much quicker relief that going through an appeals process.
Any Further Questions?
If you have a loved one who is incarcerated due to unreliable evidence like a jailhouse snitch, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. There may be legal relief if there are the correct legal issues are present. At Grabel & Associates, our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully defending criminal cases all over the state of Michigan. We are not a general practice firm. We are a team of criminal defense attorneys; it’s all we do. We offer a FREE consultation to anyone with questions relating to a possible or existing criminal charge against them or a loved one. Feel free to contact us on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can also contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide locations. We can also come to you.