Beyond Scared Straight -Juvenile Justice Reform: Let him Testify: Vincent Smothers Evidence could free Innocent teen

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 “Did you hit somebody in there?” Williams asked. “Three guys, and I believe there was a female in the house with them,” Smothers replied. “I’m sure the three guys are dead.” He said he and an accomplice named “Nemo” stole $2,000 – “I think we split it” – a half-pound of marijuana and a .40-caliber handgun that was used to kill Rose Cobb, a police officer’s wife, three months later. McGinnis, an appellate lawyer, learned about Smothers’ statements in January 2009, about eight months after her client was sent to prison. She had already failed to get the boy’s guilty plea thrown out based on his recantation, a long shot. But this was completely different because someone else had admitted to being the triggerman. McGinnis figured the Wayne County prosecutor’s office would back down, and Sanford would be freed. “I was stunned. They said, ‘Too bad, too sad,'” McGinnis recalled. “The prosecutor has tried desperately to find a connection between Davontae and Smothers but there’s no connection.” Indeed, the prosecutor’s office insists that Sanford’s guilty plea should stick. Assistant prosecutor Joseph Puleo has conceded that Smothers may have had a role, but, he said, that does not clear the boy. 

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