Service-for-Life Michigan man freed thanks to WMU’s Innocence Project

A wrongly convicted Michigan man serving life in prison without parole is now a free man.

At the age of 23, Corey Quentin McCall was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole on December 5, 2005. After spending nearly 16 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit, Corey , 39, has his wrongful conviction overturned and has now been released from Michigan Reformatory in Ionia.

On March 26, 2005, four gunmen broke into a house and killed three people and shot dead a surviving victim in a robbery in Benton Harbor. The surviving victim eventually identified McCall as one of the gunmen after seeing his profile during the flight for 1 to 2 seconds.

At trial, McCall presented an alibi defense that he was buying items at Walmart when the crime happened. Evidence at the Walmart employee trial was that those purchases had not been made that night, discrediting McCall’s claims and contradicting his alibi. McCall was ultimately convicted by a jury.

Decades later, Western Michigan University’s Cooley Law School Innocence Project received new information that McCall was not involved in the crime. This new information led to the discovery of new witnesses and new evidence, including documents that were not available at trial, which showed McCall to be innocent. The Benton Harbor Public Safety Department helped forensic analysis of a phone that corroborated the new evidence. Western Michigan University’s Cooley Law School’s Innocence Project continued DNA testing, but crime scene evidence was not important to the identity of the perpetrators.

The Benton Harbor Public Safety Department, headed by Principal Daniel McGinnis, Jr., and the Berrien County District Attorney’s Office worked with Special Agents of the Innocence Project at Western Michigan University’s Cooley Law School to review the previous survey and look for new leads. Director Daniels was the officer in charge at the time of McCall’s arrest and charge in 2005.

As a result of the investigation, the CIU, led by Deputy Attorney General Robyn Frankel and Berrien County District Attorney Steven Pierangeli, called for McCall’s convictions to be quashed and all charges dismissed.

Mr McCall’s exoneration was made possible by the incredible work of the Attorney General’s Conviction Integrity Unit and the Berrien County District Attorney’s willingness to overturn his convictions when presented with clear and convincing proof of his innocence “, Tracey Brame, director of the Cooley Innocence Project, said. “The Cooley Innocence Project is proud to play a role in this exemption, and I am optimistic that this partnership with SDI will result in justice for others wrongly convicted.

Berrien County Circuit Court Judge Angela M. Pasula overturned the conviction on Friday, June 25, 2021, in a hearing held via Zoom.

Berrien County District Attorney Pierangeli said:

It goes without saying that it is tragic that Mr. McCall served time in jail for this crime. Berrien County prosecutors are doing everything they can to prevent this from happening. In this case, Mr McCall was convicted when the perpetrators had information about his innocence and waited until recently to disclose it. I fully agree, however, that overturning the conviction cannot begin to adequately compensate Mr. McCall for what he has lost. Nothing can give him back his lost youth or give him back the years he spent in prison.

In 2019, the Michigan Department of the Attorney General received a grant from the Department of Justice to partner with the Cooley Innocence Project to investigate allegations of innocence and perform DNA testing. That same year, the Cooley Innocence Project received a separate Department of Justice grant to work with the Michigan Department of the Attorney General in reviewing cases in which unreliable forensic analyzes played a role in conviction. . These grant partnerships were instrumental in McCall’s investigation and release.

Exempt prisoners are entitled to one year of reintegration housing and two years of other support services offered by the MDOC. These include, in particular, job placement assistance, vocational training, transport assistance, work clothing or tools, assistance with vital documents, etc.

Exempt persons receive information about these services upon release and can access them within two years of release.

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