A Man Serves Time In Prison For Murders That A Hitman Admits
January 5, 2018 Update:
Davontae Sanford is set to receive $408,000 from the state of Michigan for wrongful conviction. He spent more than 8 years in prison for murders he did not commit. Detroit News has more on the update.
Vincent “Vito” Smothers is serving 52 years in prison for killing 8 people, including being hired by Detroit Police Department Sergeant David Cobb to kill Cobb’s wife. Smothers is a hit man, and has now confessed to killing 4 other people. The problem is that another man is currently serving time for those murders.
Side note: Cobb was arrested a day after Smothers was arrested for killing Cobb’s wife. Cobb was released after prosecutors said there wasn’t enough evidence to charge him. Cobbs remained suspended without pay. In September 2008, Cobb was found dead, hanged in Sterling Heights. It was ruled a suicide.
In 2007, 14-year old Davontae Sanford, who is illiterate and blind in one eye, walked up to police at a murder scene. He immediately became a suspect. Detectives realized that Davontae did not know details about the crime, but his public defender convinced him to avoid trial and enter a guilty plea. Davontae eventually pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sent to prison.
Smothers has now filed a 26-page affidavit stating;
“I only want to tell the truth in order to prevent an innocent kid from serving time for crimes that I committed. I hope to have the opportunity to testify in court to provide details and drawings of the crime scene that could only be known by the person who committed the crime: me.”
Students and professors from the University of Michigan’s law school’s Innocence Clinic, and The Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth at Northwestern University’s law school, filed Smothers’ affidavit in the Wayne County court. They requested hearings on the new evidence and asked that a judge ultimately dismiss Sanford’s guilty plea.
The process could take years, and has taken years.
In 2011, Kym Worthy, the prosecutor, admitted that some aspects of the case “elude explanation.” She still refuses to back away from Devontae’s conviction.
In 2012, Smothers gave a prison interview with the Associated Press. He said then that he wanted to help Davontae. A judge refused to allow Smothers to testify.
Last year (2014) the Michigan Supreme Court didn’t foreclose the possibility to reopen the case but decided that Davontae could not withdraw his guilty plea because of technical procedural reasons.
Attorney Megan Crane of Northwestern University stated:
“We are bringing light to the truth that this system has so long sought to suppress. All that remains now is for one question to be answered: Can the system handle the truth?”
Devontae Sanford, now 22, isn’t eligible for parole until 2046. His new lawyers said he was poorly served by his trial attorney, Robert Slameka, who didn’t challenge Davontae’s alleged confession or police testimony.
The Associated Press contacted attorney Slameka who stated that while he represented Devontae, Devontae would not cooperate with him. Slamenka has a history of discipline and currently has two misdemeanor convictions, and will lose his license to practice law for 6 months starting in May.
Posted on 04/17/2015, in Cases, Devontae Sanford and tagged Center on Wrongful Convictions, Devontae Sanford, Innocence Clinic, Robert Slameka, Sergeant David Cobb, Vincent Smothers. Bookmark the permalink. 39 Comments.