The Michigan Supreme Court made a directive to the state Court of Appeals review the conviction of a man in a murder-for-hire case. This man was convicted despite another man confessing to the killing as a hit man. The 40-year-old man was convicted of first-degree murder back in 2005. This decision comes on the heels of a 2018 evidentiary hearing where the person purporting to be the true killer gave recorded testimony that he committed the murder, not the man who was convicted.
Original Case Details
Thelonious Searcy was convicted for the 2004 murder of Jamal Segers back in 2005. Vincent Smothers, who is in prison after confessing to eight different murders, came forward in multiple affidavits that he killed Segers. During an evidentiary hearing in 2018, Smothers made this same confession in court. Smothers testified that the killing happened close to Coleman A. Young Municipal Airport in Detroit. Smothers intended to go to what was called the “Black Party,” which was a fundraiser for the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund. This fundraiser was being held inside the airport. Smothers said that the party was attended by multiple drug dealers. On the way to the fundraiser, Smothers saw Segers in congested traffic and decided that was his opportunity to rob him. He parked his car at a gas station and Smothers, along with another man walked towards Segers’ car and shot up the back of the car, killing Segers and another man inside the car. While Smothers and his partner tried to escape, an unmarked police car pulled up. A subsequent crash and shootout happened. But Smothers and his partner escaped from the police on that day.
Wayne County Prosecutors have rejected this claim and believe that they have the right guy in Searcy. Prosecutors believe that Searcy confused Segers with a man that he had a conflict with. Prosecutors believe that Searcy was actually after a DeAnthony Witcher, who happened to drive a car similar to Segers. Witcher and Segers both drove Corvettes. Witcher testified that he was won $600 from Searcy in a craps game, which was what led to the original feud. Witcher testified that Searcy threatened to kill him after that game. The jury believed the prosecution’s theory of the case and convicted Searcy.
The defense now has their best opportunity to secure Searcy’s freedom upon review from the Court of Appeals. Smothers has come forward because as he said, “prison is extremely difficult even when you’re guilty; it has to be more so when you’re not.” At the time this murder happened, Smothers was a free man and had no reason to want to confess. Now that he is in prison for other murders, he felt it necessary to set the record straight.
During all of the time since Searcy’s conviction in 2005, his defense team has been appealing his case. The Michigan Court of Appeals rejected a review of this case by a 2-1 decision back in October. Smothers wrote affidavits in 2015 and 2016 that he was the true killer. This resulted in a 2018 evidentiary hearing where Smothers testified in court to the same. Due to the Supreme Court’s directive, the Michigan Court of Appeals will now review this case for the first time. The defense will first file their brief and the prosecutor will then file a reply brief. No court date has been set as of yet.
Any Further Questions?
If you have a loved one who is incarcerated due to unreliable evidence, 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.