Michigan Supreme Court Orders Judge to Take Another Look at Burton Man’s 1987 Murder Conviction

In 1987, Temujin Kensu, formerly known as Fred Freeman, was convicted of fatally shooting Scott Macklem in a college parking lot. Kensu, a native of Burton, has maintained his innocence for decades, and been supported by numerous innocence groups including the Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan.

Kensu has attempted to have his conviction overturned repeatedly, claiming that at the time the shooting occurred he was in the Upper Peninsula, hundreds of miles away. An appeals court overturned his conviction in 2010, however the U.S. Sixth District Court of Appeals upheld the first-degree murder conviction in 2012.

Prosecutors believe that Kensu killed the victim because Macklem was dating his ex-girlfriend, and Kensu was jealous. At trial, a witness claimed to have seen the defendant drive away from the scene of the crime, however it was determined at a later date that the witness had been hypnotized and gave a wrong license plate number.

In this latest effort to have his conviction overturned, the Michigan Supreme Court has ordered a hearing be held by a judge so that police photos which were used to identify Kensu as a suspect in the case may be reviewed.

In a 2010 interview with The Flint Journal, Kensu said that every single person who had reviewed his case concluded that he did not commit the murder, that there is no evidence and no witness.

The state’s Supreme Court has ordered that an evidentiary hearing be conducted in St. Clair County Circuit Court. At issue is whether Kensu’s defense team had the opportunity to review original police lineup photos prior to those photos being made into trial exhibits for the jury. The issue of the lineup photos was addressed by the Court of Appeals in 2012, however the Supreme Court ruled this should have been discussed in trial court, according to St. Clair County Prosecutor Mike Wendling.

Time will tell whether Kensu ultimately has his conviction overturned and gets released from prison, where he has been incarcerated for nearly 27 years. Michigan criminal appeals attorneys know that there are cases in which the real truth is never known; however, when an individual who is innocent spends decades behind bars, it is a tragedy.

Individuals who are convicted of a serious or violent crime often feel that hope has slipped away. In many cases there is another option, which is appealing the conviction. While it certainly is not an easy or simple process, an experienced Michigan criminal appeals lawyer can review your case and help determine whether you may have strong grounds to appeal.

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