Man Jailed For 37 Years On Murder Conviction Freed After Witness Admits She Lied
Walter Forbes was released from prison last month after serving 37 years for a crime he didn’t commit.
The 63-year-old’s release comes after a key witness from his trial in 1983 admitted that the testimony she had given was false.
Forbes, from Michigan, was first arrested in 1982 after he broke up a bar fight. One of the men involved in the brawl, Dennis Hall, shot Forbes the following day. Later, Hall died in a fire that was ruled as arson.
The prosecution largely based their case on the testimony of one witness, Annice Kennebrew, who said that she had seen Forbes at the scene of the fire. Subsequently, he was falsely convicted of arson and murder.
In 2017, Kennebrew came forward and admitted that she had never seen Forbes at the scene.
She testified that she had ‘falsely implicated Mr. Forbes because she had been intimidated into doing so by two local men who knew her from around the neighborhood and who had threatened to harm her and her family if she did not implicate Mr. Forbes’, according to court documents obtained by Detroit Free Press.
Speaking after his release, Forbes told the publication that ‘even though it took forever’, he is ‘still grateful she did the right thing, that she did finally tell the truth’.
He also condemned the justice system that failed him, saying, ‘Calling it the justice system gives a false impression. Just using the term ‘justice’ gives you the sense that it is a just system.’
Speaking of his conviction, he said:
I couldn’t believe it was happening. One of the things I had faith in was that the truth was going to come out, that there was no way they were going to convict me for those lies.
Up until I was convicted, I thought the system would work, that it would correct itself. In hindsight, I was naive.
As per US law, a witness who knowingly lies under oath can be charged with perjury, but the statute of limitations for the crime is around six years.
At this time, it is unclear if Kennebrew will face any repercussions for her lie.
Forbes’ lawyer, Imran Syed of the Michigan Innocence Clinic, told the Detroit Free Press that a perjury charge in this case can be dangerous and counterproductive.
‘We want people who lied to come forward. The community as a whole is harmed if lies remain hidden forever,’ he said.
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