WATCH: Ag Nessel announces second exoneration of Conviction Integrity Unit

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)– On Friday, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel held a news conference to announce that the conviction of Corey McCall had been vacated, after nearly 16 years in prison.

McCall was serving a life sentence in relation to the death of three people, including a 12-year-old boy, who was shot in the head during a home invasion in Benton Harbor. McCall was not accused of being the shooter, but he was identified by a surviving victim as one of the gunmen in the house. McCall told police that he was at a Walmart, but his alibi was ultimately discredited by Walmart employees.

Nearly two decades later, the CIU received information saying that McCall was not a participant in the crime. McCall’s innocence became apparent after new evidence, witnesses and documents that were not present at the trial were discovered.

Mr. McCall’s exoneration was made possible by the incredible work of the Attorney General’s Conviction Integrity Unit and the willingness of the Berrien County Prosecutor to vacate his convictions when presented with clear and convincing evidence of his innocence. The Cooley Innocence Project is proud to play a role in this exoneration, and I’m hopeful that this partnership with the CIU will result in justice for others who are wrongfully convicted.”  

Tracey Brame, director of the Cooley Innocence Project

The attorney general was joined by Assistant Attorneys General Robyn Frankel and Lori Montgomery.

The exoneration of Mr. McCall is an example of the importance of a collaboration between multiple agencies. When I established the CIU, I envisioned our office working side-by-side with local prosecutors and police departments to uncover the truth. I commend the attorneys and investigators in my office, the local agencies, and the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project for their hard work in ensuring justice for Mr. McCall.”

Attorney General Dana Nessel

The attorney general’s office held a welcoming event for McCall at 1 P.M. at Bertha Brock Park in Ionia.

Berrien County Prosecutor Pierangeli stated:

It goes without saying that it is tragic Mr. McCall has served any time in prison for this crime.  Prosecutors in Berrien County make every effort to prevent this from occurring. In this case, Mr. McCall was convicted when the perpetrators of the crime had information of his innocence and waited until recently to disclose it.  I fully recognize, however, that setting aside the conviction cannot begin to adequately compensate Mr. McCall for what he has lost.  Nothing can restore his lost youth or return to him the years he spent in prison.”    

Gilbert Poole Jr., who was the first person exonerated by the Conviction Integrity Unit, will join them at the welcoming event.

Poole was exonerated after 32 years in prison. He was wrongfully convicted of murder back in 1988.

The Conviction Integrity Unit works in conjunction with Western Michigan University’s Cooley Law School Innocence Project. The project says they’re part of the Innocence Network, which has been credited with the release of over 375 wrongfully accused prisoners through the use of DNA testing.

In 2019, the Department of the Michigan Attorney General received a grant from the Department of Justice to partner with the Cooley Innocence Project in order to screen claims of innocence and conduct DNA testing. That same year, the Cooley Innocence Project received a separate grant from the Department of Justice to partner with the Department of the Michigan Attorney General in reviewing cases in which unreliable forensics played a role in the conviction.

<<<The Associated Press has contributed to this report.

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