Cold Case Re-opened: Charges dropped against all 5 men in 2013 killing

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JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) – Five men who were behind bars for years and charged in a cold case homicide in Jackson have been cleared

Phillip Sango was killed in December of 2013 in Jackson and the case went cold but 5 years later police seemed to have solved it.

However, as 6 News learned today those charges have been dropped and the case reopened

“My client lost two years of his life,” said Jackson-based attorney George Lyles. “That’s not coming back.”

No one had leads for years. Until one day, an inmate in jail came up with a plan to be an informant for police to reduce his own jail sentence.

So he approached one of the accused Winston Russell wearing a wire.

“He sparked a conversation about this Phillip Sango murder trying to get him to make admissions about what happened,” said Russell’s attorney, Kareem Johnson. “He never actually does, he disagrees with the cooperator.”

Still, it became a major piece of evidence in this case but Johnson says it never should have come to that.

“On the date Sango was killed, dec. 22nd 2013, Mr. Russell was in jail on an unrelated matter,” Johnson said. “So he couldn’t have been out to do it.”

Johnson says he broke his own rule and had Russell take Michigan State Police administered lie detector test to prove his innocence.

“He passed,” Johnson said. “Eight months later he was finally released.”

As for the other four accused of being involved Joshua Long, Donald long, Anthony Wade and Robert Brown charges have been dropped as well.

Brown’s attorney said he’s never seen less evidence in a murder case.

“They had no forensics, they had no eyewitnesses, they had no confessions,” Lyons said.

Prosecutors told 6 News off camera:

As evidence developed and progressed in these cases it arrived at a point where we were unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt any longer, the involvement of these individuals.

Jackson police chief Elmer Hitt echoed those thoughts.

“Evidence isn’t only meant to prove a case,” he said. “It’s also meant to exonerate someone to disprove a case.”

Prosecutors say the sango family has been informed and at this time there are no new leads.

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