The Latest: Man released from prison wants driver's license

AP News
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Posted: Jun 09, 2016 3:46 PM
The Latest: Man released from prison wants driver's license

IONIA, Mich. (AP) — The Latest on the case of a young man who entered prison as a teenager in 2008 for killings that a hit man says he committed (all times local):

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3:45 p.m.

A young Detroit man who went to prison as a teenager in 2008 says he wants to learn to drive now that his murder convictions have been thrown out by a judge.

Davontae Sanford spoke to reporters Thursday, a day after the 23-year-old was released from prison. Prosecutors said an investigation by state police uncovered problems with how Detroit police built their case against him in 2007.

Sanford was 15 when he pleaded guilty to the crimes. About two weeks after he went to prison, a hit man imprisoned for other killings says he was responsible for the deaths, not Sanford.

Sanford says he doesn't want to play the "blame game" against police and prosecutors. He says he wants to spend time with family and get his life "back on track."

The Rev. W.D. Rideout summed up the family's feelings with one word: "Hallelujah."

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1:20 p.m.

A prosecutor who asked that a young Detroit man be released from prison in four slayings declined to say whether she believes he's innocent.

Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy held a news conference Thursday, two days after a judge at her urging released 23-year-old Davontae Sanford from prison and threw out his 2008 guilty pleas.

Worthy was defensive at times as she traced the history of the case, noting that Sanford signed a confession and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. Sanford was 15 at the time.

Worthy says her office was confident about the evidence in 2008. When asked whether dropping the charges exonerated Sanford, Worthy declined to comment.

The convictions were dropped after state police found problems with the Detroit police investigation and subsequent statements by officers. Worthy asked for the case review in May 2015, shortly after two law schools renewed efforts to clear Sanford.

An imprisoned hit man says he committed the killings.

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11:25 a.m.

A Michigan prosecutor is defending how her office handled the case against a young man who spent eight years in prison before his guilty pleas, made when he was 15, in four fatal shootings were thrown out.

Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy said during a news conference Thursday that her staff wasn't "running rogue" and trying to railroad Davontae Sanford. She said she acted swiftly after state police found problems with the Detroit police investigation in the 2007 killings.

Sanford was 14 when the killings occurred. He was imprisoned in 2008. Sanford walked out of prison Wednesday, after a judge erased the guilty pleas at Worthy's request.

A hit man, Vincent Smothers, says he committed the so-called Runyon Street murders and was willing to testify to help clear Sanford. Worthy says Smothers has twice refused to testify in court.

This item has been corrected to show Sanford was 14 at the time of the killings, but 15 when he pleaded guilty.

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5:45 a.m.

A Michigan prosecutor is expected to explain her decision to drop charges against a young man who was in prison for eight years after pleading guilty to killing four people in a drug den.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has scheduled a press conference for Thursday morning in Detroit.

Davontae Sanford, who entered prison as a teenager in 2008, stepped out into sunshine and freedom Wednesday in Ionia, eight years after a professional hit man told authorities he was responsible for the slayings.

Sanford told reporters in Detroit he wants to try to "put this behind me and move on with my life" and take "one day at a time, one step at a time."

The hit man's first acknowledgement that he was involved came only about two weeks after Sanford was sent away.