Bullet tests clear Detroit man in prison since 1992

By ED WHITE

Associated Press

DETROIT — Declaring “justice prevailed,” a Michigan man walked out of prison for the first time in 25 years, freed after new tests showed that the bullets presented as evidence at his trial weren’t the ones taken from the body of the victim.

Desmond Ricks, 51, met his legal team before leaving the western Michigan prison, the culmination of a remarkable effort to clear himself in a fatal shooting outside a Detroit burger joint in 1992.

The Innocence Clinic at University of Michigan law school asked Judge Richard Skutt to reopen the case after prosecutors in 2015 turned over photos of two bullets removed from the victim, Gerry Bennett. The bullets were in poor shape and didn’t resemble the pristine bullets that were presented as evidence by Detroit police in 1992.

Police at that time said a gun belonging to Ricks’ mother was the murder weapon, but new tests ruled out any connection, Innocence Clinic director David Moran said.

One of the bullets doesn’t match the gun and the other was too mutilated for a thorough analysis, he said.

“I’m not bitter. I’m not angry. I’m just relieved,” Ricks told The Associated Press after eating his first meal since getting out, a grilled turkey and cheese sandwich. “Justice prevailed. … I want to get a job. I want to pay taxes. I just want to be a normal citizen.”

Skutt threw out Ricks’ second-degree murder conviction on Friday after the Wayne County prosecutor’s office agreed it should be erased. A second trial seems highly unlikely. Spokeswoman Maria Miller said a decision about whether to completely dismiss the case will be discussed in court on June 1.