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Law > News Hits

Tribulations, and maybe a trial

Prosecutors still mulling whether to target prisoner freed by Innocence Clinic

 

Published 11/25/2009

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The Detroit man freed from prison earlier this month after a judge threw out his 2001 murder conviction, Dwayne Provience, got a little more freedom this week. But a new trial remains possible, the prosecutor maintains. And the drama surrounding his case isn't over. 

For example, attorneys say the Detroit police can't find files related to the homicide of Rene Hunter — the murder Provience was convicted of — and a second, possibly related murder investigation. There's an unpredictable, admitted drug user who was the prosecution's only trial witness against Provience. A newly assigned prosecutor has the case but said he hadn't read the file before Tuesday's court hearing nor decided how he would proceed.

"I need to be up to speed before I talk to anybody," says assistant Wayne County prosecutor Robert Stevens. "I'm going to have to consult with higher-ups."

Since Provience was released from prison, he has been restricted to his mother's Detroit home, monitored by a tether. (See "Released after 8 years," Nov. 4.) But at Tuesday's hearing, Wayne County Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny lifted part of the tether restriction, deciding that Provience could leave home during the day but gave him a 6 p.m. curfew. "I can at least find some employment," Provience says. 

Kenny scheduled a Dec. 15 hearing for pretrial motions, and Provience's attorneys from the University of Michigan Law School Innocence Clinic say they'll have some. If the case goes to trial, Bridget McCormack, one of Provience's attorneys, says she'll ask the judge to exclude the testimony of Larry Wiley, who at Provience's 2001 trial testified he saw Provience shoot Hunter. But Wiley has changed his story back and forth about whether he was there and invoked the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination at a hearing earlier this year.

 McCormack also says she'll want to admit the confession of Eric Woods, who was convicted in a second homicide — the fatal shooting of Courtney Irving — as well as the prosecutor's opening and closing statements from that trial. In those, then-assistant prosecutor (and now Michigan Solicitor General) Eric Restuccia argued Hunter's and Irving's deaths were related, and that someone other than Provience killed Hunter.

But getting information from police files on the two investigations is in limbo. McCormack says Detroit police say the files are missing. Stevens says that's normal. "They can be missing all the time but they do turn up," he says.

McCormack hopes they do. "If they turn up, they're full of exculpatory information for our client," she says.

News Hits was written by Metro Times staff writer Sandra Svoboda. You can reach her at 313-202-8015 or ssvoboda@metrotimes.com.

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