Tonight’s open thread is brought to you by the awesome pizza at Aubree’s… So, America, what’s on your mind?

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  1. Posted April 9, 2009 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    It’s been three minutes. Where are all the comments?

  2. Posted April 9, 2009 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    So, what are you doing for the weekend?

  3. Posted April 9, 2009 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    Read any good books lately?

  4. Posted April 9, 2009 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    Heard any good jokes?

  5. Posted April 9, 2009 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    Bad ones?

  6. Posted April 9, 2009 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    OK, I’m going to watch Oprah now. When I get back, this thread better be full of stuff. I’m serious.

  7. Posted April 9, 2009 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    This weekend, I am going to build my raised bed garden, pick up some worms for vermicomposting and go to the Original Gravity in Milan for a diabetes fundraiser. Then, my Xtian part of the family is having an Easter dinner. Even though I went with the Jewish part, I still like to go.

    I have read some good books, but guess what I am rereading right now?? Bridge to Teribithita! I saw it in our school library the other day and grabbed it. Now I am thinking of rereading lots of old books from the 70s, like the Lois Lowry ones and the Judy Bloom and Beverly Cleary ones.

    My favorite joke is lame, but here it goes: What do you get when you play a country music record backwards? You get your woman, you pick up and your dog back.

    Oprah is the devil, Mark: discuss.

  8. Posted April 9, 2009 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Hey! Don’t diss on The Oprah, TeacherPatti!!!

  9. dp in exile
    Posted April 9, 2009 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    i’m hooked on M Ward’s new album.

    still gotta buy the new Tragically Hip album.

    it’s nice having my office right on MI Ave, it’s so much more convenient jay-walking across the street to the Wolverine.

    someday, when i grow up, i want a condo in Burlington that i can spend long weekends at.

    according to our venerable DDA director, there should be a map of the downtown parking options on a city website in a “few weeks”. i tried finding said map to send a link to my accountant who is visiting soon, which led to me calling said DDA director.

    it’s been fun purposefully not using uppercase letters when doing internet typing. random, but true.

    half off sushi rolls for dinner at Ichiban is quite nice.

    when will the fountain in front of the library work?

    the Corea/McLaughlin show at Hill Auditorium on Saturday made my top 5 concerts ever. Radiohead at St. Andrew’s Hall, June 1995 is still number 1.

    after 2 weeks of using windows vista, i have to say that all the bad things people say about it are true, but it’s not enough of a pain to spend $2grand on a MAC.

    good luck demanding more folks comment.

  10. Patrick
    Posted April 10, 2009 at 12:39 am | Permalink

    dp in exile wrote, “after 2 weeks of using windows vista, i have to say that all the bad things people say about it are true, but it’s not enough of a pain to spend $2grand on a MAC.”
    I have a new computer with Vista, and mostly I think you are right. It is a pain. But, I think you can order PC’s with NT or whatever for extra money.
    I am reading a book called, “Music, The Brain, and Ecstasy.” It is really old. It is not as interesting as the one by Levitin called “This is Your Brain on Music” or “Musicophilia”.
    TeacherPatti, do you have a low tunnel for your raised bed?
    Mark, how is the back pain?

  11. tommy
    Posted April 10, 2009 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    Had me some Aubree’s last night – with the coupon! Thanks to the French’s and to Mark for offering it up. Traveled eastward down Washtenaw as I wanted to drive by our old neighborhood and first home – on Northlawn, our college ‘houses’, etc. That stretch of road between Golfside and campus, for some reason, depresses me. The 25 oz. beer and the pizza made it all better.

    Question for the long time ‘Ypsilantarians’ – my wife and I couldn’t remember if Aubree’s has always been named Aubree’s, or if it had a different name in the 80’s when it used to be the best blues club around?

  12. Paw
    Posted April 10, 2009 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    I’m thinking a lot about the classic monster movies lately. Wondering if it would be weird for a grown man to invite other grown men for a slumber party.

  13. Posted April 10, 2009 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Lynne–an old coworker/ friend of mine would say that “Oprah is the devil, discuss” whenever things were at a lull (this was in my law office days). It never failed to spark a discussion. I don’t love her either, but it was sooo entertaining to watch the debate :)
    Patrick–gotta get me some low tunnels :)

  14. kjc
    Posted April 10, 2009 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    I’m wondering whether driving up and down East Cross every day will eventually destroy my car.

  15. Posted April 10, 2009 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    We’re playing with Jason Webley and 4th Street Jug Band at the Trumbullplex tonight for the anarchists. 8pm, $6 donation, all ages.

  16. Meta
    Posted April 10, 2009 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Anything interesting going on this weekend?

  17. Huckett
    Posted April 10, 2009 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    So what *is* the fake chicken at the Golden Wall then? Soy? Fungus?

  18. Luca T
    Posted April 10, 2009 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Why eat fake chicken when you can have the real thing? There’s plenty of it in Ypsi.

  19. Posted April 10, 2009 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    We’ll be at the Corner Brewery Saturday night for a vinyl themed birthday party. We’ll be selling and spinning records. Come on out!

  20. Steve Swan
    Posted April 10, 2009 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    I’m casting a new film in Romulus. It’s called “Bottom Feeder.” Interested parties should be at the Metro Airport Days-Inn at 10:00 PM tomorrow night. We’ll be in the lounge.

  21. Posted April 10, 2009 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Hhhhhhhmmmmmmmmm, I’m moving in a renter this weekend (Hi Ashley!) and thus moving a lot of stuff out of one room and into my new “office.”

    In other riveting news, in a stunning feat of community networking, I now have a top bar hive. See, I met Justin through agreeing to teach elementary gardening to the new EMU Giving Garden participants. Justin came to the Ypsi Urban Farmer Breakfast, where beekeeping was discussed. He and magnificent Giving Garden organizers, Lindsay and Lo, came up to my “microfarm” on Grant and viewed the homestead. Stacks of hive equipment was stumbled over here and there. Bees were further discussed in the root cellar. Then, in the work room, Justin viewed the abortion that was our attempt at building a top bar hive.

    Justin is hanging with the Gabriel’s Garden folk on Forest and he wants to keep bees there. He also has carpentry skills. I have unused Langstroth (stacking) hives. A delightful deal was struck and NOW I have a beautiful hive and so does he. And not a penny changed hands. Even the wood was freecycled!

  22. dp in exile
    Posted April 10, 2009 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    Lisele: very sweet, good story!!

    Patrick: I just spoke to a nice woman on the Indian sub-continent representing HP (I think these jobs used to be in Maine). She politely explained that if I upgrade to XP, or another operating system, that my warranty will be void. Now I’m pondering again…

    Does anyone have pics of the great Chinese and Saudi money giveaway that took place to save our beloved Freighthouse this morning? My niece, who is 16 months old, gets the tab for our photo-0p. I want to frame something for her as a thank-you note time-capsule type thing.

    FYI- the Ann Arbor News names this site as the source that the money given was stimulus money, so Mark must be a real journalist now. This makes me ponder a little more…

  23. Brackinald Achery
    Posted April 11, 2009 at 12:50 am | Permalink

    Does anyone have pics of the great Chinese and Saudi money giveaway that took place to save our beloved Freighthouse this morning? My niece, who is 16 months old, gets the tab for our photo-0p. I want to frame something for her as a thank-you note time-capsule type thing.

    Ha! Thank GOD someone else said it first!

  24. dragon
    Posted April 11, 2009 at 2:45 am | Permalink

    In the 70’s and early 80’s Aubreys went by The Alibi. It was a much ‘tougher’ crowd, refered to as a biker bar by old timers. No students or family people and a good chance the police would be called on a good night. Times have changed. Damn that profit motive bullshit.

  25. Robert
    Posted May 2, 2009 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Hey, check it out. Some Detroit cops are getting exposed on their framing of a disabled 16-year-old for murder.

    See the story here:



    A self-professed hit man told police that after fatally shooting four people inside a reputed drug den that he stole a .40 caliber pistol from the house that he later used to kill a Detroit Police sergeant’s wife, according to a confession obtained today by the Free Press.

    In an April 20, 2008, confession, Vincent Smothers told a Detroit police homicide investigator that he and another associate killed three men and one woman on Runyon in Detroit in September 2007. At the time, police found a marijuana-growing operation in the basement and marijuana plants in the backyard.

    Smothers told police they fired through an outside window, entered the house and searched it.

    When asked if he took anything from the house, Smothers replied: “Yes, the .40-cal that was used in Cobb’s wife’s murder. Some weed – half a pound…maybe $2,000. I think we split it.”

    An appeals attorney had hoped Smothers’ confession would compel Wayne County prosecutors to dismiss charges against Davontae Sanford, a developmentally disabled 16-year-old who was convicted of the Runyon Street slayings. But prosecutors today appear unwilling to change their position. Sanford, who was 14 at the time of the killings, confessed to the crime.
    In his confession, Smothers did not name Sanford as his accomplice.

    Kim McGinnis, Sanford’s lawyer, is expected this afternoon or Wednesday morning to file a motion to withdraw Sanford’s guilty plea based on newly discovered evidence. A court hearing is scheduled for March 18.

    “I don’t know why Vincent Smothers has not been charged with these crimes,” McGinnis said today. “With this confession I don’t understand why the prosecutor’s office isn’t acting to right this wrong.”

    Maria Miller, spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office, would not offer any details.

    “We will be back in court on March 18 to argue our position,” Miller said. “Until then we have no comment.”

    Sanford told police he used a M14 rifle to commit the crime, but forensics evidence shows that an AK47 and .45-caliber pistol were used at the shooting. Smothers told police he used a .45-caliber pistol and AK47 as weapons during the Runyon Street assault.

    When Smothers was arrested last April, he confessed to killing seven people from August 2006 to December 2007. He told police he was paid between $5,000 and $15,000 for the jobs, and began to feel remorse for his actions only after he killed Rose Cobb, the wife of Detroit Police Sgt. David Cobb. David Cobb later killed himself and was never charged.

    Smothers is currently charged with six counts of first-degree murder.

    Staff writer Ben Schmitt contributed to this report.

  26. Posted May 2, 2009 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Wow. Fucked up.

  27. Robert
    Posted May 3, 2009 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, and apparently this mentally disabled kid was only 14 when the cops and prosecutors framed him for this quadruple homicide back in 2007. So this innocent child has been incarcerated for two years in the Detroit/Wayne County system and nobody seems to give much of a shit about it…not the prosecutors, not the judge, not the cops, not the press, not the public…nobody.

  28. Robert
    Posted May 5, 2009 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Well I guess there actually is a judge that gives a shit about this innocent kid. Judge Brian Sullivan has ordered that the firearms evidence in the case be retested. Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Frank Bernacki suggested the test could take a month. Judge Sullivan demanded that it be done sooner.

    The Free Press pulled their article “Is teen taking the fall for hit man’s killing?” which they had posted to their website previously. So, I’ll repost it. Here it is:

    February 28, 2009

    Is teen taking the fall for hit man’s killing?


    Davontae Sanford, a developmentally disabled 16-year-old, sits in prison after his lawyer says he was coerced to confess to killing four people in a rumored drug house on Detroit’s east side. Now, an admission from a confessed hit man could finally win him a new trial.

    Vincent Smothers, who had already confessed to killing at least seven people, including the wife of a Detroit police sergeant, also has admitted to being responsible for the September 2007 drug house killings on Runyon, according to police and Sanford’s appeals lawyer.

    “We’re hoping to get his plea withdrawn so he can go to trial in light of this new evidence,” said attorney Kim McGinnis. “I think this was a false confession made by an adolescent who is a special-ed student and who reads on a third-grade level.”

    On Friday, Wayne County Circuit Judge Brian Sullivan ordered police and prosecutors to give McGinnis any oral or written statements made by Smothers about the Runyon killings within the next two weeks.

    On the night of the killings, neighbors said they heard a succession of 30 gunshots coming from the house. Killed were Michael Robinson, 33; D’Angelo McNoriell and Brian Dixon, who were in their early 20s, and Nicole Chapman, 25. Valerie Glover, 30, was critically wounded but survived the attack. A 7-year-old boy was found unharmed.

    Police said Sanford, who was 14 at the time of the Sept. 17, 2007, shooting in the 19700 block of Runyon, told them he and his friends plotted to rob a drug house and wound up shooting the occupants once inside.

    According to his confession, Sanford said all four suspects had guns, and he used an M14 rifle that he tossed after the shooting. He said the gun did not belong to him.

    But McGinnis said forensics evidence shows that an AK47 and .45-caliber pistol were used at the shooting.

    “Those are the weapons that Vincent Smothers uses, and the whole crime is his exact MO,” McGinnis said.

    No weapons were found in the shooting.

    Sanford, who lived a few blocks from the shooting, first approached homicide investigators as they canvassed the neighborhood about two hours after the incident, according to court records. Sanford told them he had information about the crime, and officers received permission from Sanford’s grandmother to bring him to police headquarters for further questioning, according to court testimony. Sanford did not have an attorney present, said his mother, Taminko Sanford, who calls her son Man

    Police questioned Davontae Sanford overnight, brought him back home the following day, only to arrest him about two hours later. Sanford, who is blind in one eye, was charged with four counts of first-degree murder, assault with intent to murder, armed robbery and using a firearm to commit a felony. He faced life in prison with no chance of parole.

    “If I thought there was a chance my son did this, I would love him, but I would not support him,” Taminko Sanford, 34, said Friday, later adding, “The police set him up.”

    After a two-day bench trial in March, Sanford accepted a deal and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and felony firearm. In April, he was sentenced to 37 to 90 years in prison. Taminko Sanford said she was advised by their attorney Robert Slameka that there was too much evidence with the boy’s confession to continue the trial.

    Davontae Sanford is in prison at the Thumb Correctional Facility in Lapeer.

    “When we signed off on the plea agreement, the lawyer I had said to take this or my son would go to jail for life.”

    Detroit Police homicide Sgt. Michael Russell, who investigated the Runyon Street killings, said he is certain Sanford was involved in the slayings. He said Sanford gave details, including a drawing of where the victims’ bodies were found.

    At the time, police found a marijuana-growing operation in the basement and marijuana plants in the backyard.

    “Sanford was charged, the investigation was completed and he took a plea — everything was on the up-and-up,” Russell said Friday. “If Smothers wants to jump in and start making claims that he was involved with the case, it’s up to the Prosecutor’s Office to add him to the warrant. But Sanford was there and he was involved.”

    When Smothers was arrested in April, he confessed to killing seven people from August 2006 to December 2007. He told police he was paid between $5,000 and $15,000 for the jobs, and began to feel remorse for his actions only after he killed Rose Cobb, the wife of Detroit Police Sgt. David Cobb. David Cobb later killed himself and was never charged.

    Smothers is currently charged with six counts of first-degree murder and was scheduled to go to trial on March 9, but that date will likely be pushed back, his lawyer, Gabi Silver, said Friday.

    Smothers, 27, told police that David Cobb hired him to kill his wife, orchestrated the killing and paid him through a middleman for his services.

    Cobb, 38, was arrested April 20, but the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office declined to charge him, citing a lack of evidence. Cobb remained suspended without pay from the Detroit Police Department when he hanged himself in a public park in September.

    Law enforcement sources told the Free Press that murder charges against Cobb were looming for a second time when he committed suicide.

    During a Jan. 6 preliminary examination in one of Smothers’ murder cases, Detroit Police Sgt. Gerald Williams testified that Smothers made statements about the Runyon Street killings.

    Williams declined comment Friday.

  29. Robert
    Posted May 5, 2009 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    So, on top of being only 14 years old and learning disabled, this kid they framed is blind in one eye. He also HAD an alibi AND couldn’t correctly identify the caliber of the weapons used in the killings. Now we’re supposed to believe this kid outwitted seasoned Detroit homicide detective, Sgt. Michael Russell into believing he committed a quadruple homicide he didn’t actually commit. If this BS wasn’t so sickening, it would be laughable.

  30. Posted May 6, 2009 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    From the AP article:

    “Kim McGinnis, a lawyer for Davontae Sanford, said technical problems in the prosecutor’s office prevented her from seeing the police recording ahead of the morning court session.”

    Technical problems in the prosecutor’s office, eh? Oh, I’ll say.

  31. Paw
    Posted May 6, 2009 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the updates on this case, Robert. You should start your own blog.

  32. Robert
    Posted May 7, 2009 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    I probably WILL start a “Free Davontae Sanford” blog soon, as well as a very public campaign if they keep stalling on his release like they have.

    This kid was FRAMED plain and simple.

  33. Diamond
    Posted May 28, 2009 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    I was just wondering if Vincent Smothers has begun serving time in prison. Where is he now? I tried to look him up on michigan department of corrections and he wasn’t there.

  34. Robert
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Diamond, I would assume he is being held in the Wayne County Jail while his trials get underway. There might also be some effort to keep his exact whereabouts somewhat secret.

    The organization which recruited, cultivated and handled Smothers as a contract killer will certainly be taking action to make sure he doesn’t share any more information which might further expose the nature of their operations. If his silence on certain things can’t be secured through his lawyers and/or by other “peaceful” means, there would likely be a hit ordered on him.

    Though publically the police and courts are sharing little on this, they know that, in Smothers, they are dealing with what was an asset to a very substantial, well-established, criminal organization.

  35. Robert
    Posted November 27, 2009 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Well what do you fuckin’ know!..I told you Davontae Sanford was framed.

    Retired cop alibies teen in prison for killings

    Oct. 29–A retired Detroit homicide commander provided an alibi during a court hearing Wednesday for a teen who is imprisoned for a 2007 quadruple killing.

    William Rice, a 25-year veteran, testified that Davontae Sanford was with him at Sanford’s aunt’s house for dinner when four people were killed Sept. 17, 2007, in a drug house on Runyon on Detroit’s east side.

    “He was there with me at the time the alleged crime took place,” Rice said during an appellate hearing for Sanford in front of Wayne County Circuit Judge Brian Sullivan.

    Vincent Smothers, suspected of being a hit man, confessed to the killings but has not been charged. Police say he may have acted in concert with Sanford.

    The killings occurred around 11:30 p.m., but Rice said he didn’t leave the home on Teppert until 11:45 p.m. to drive Sanford back to his home on Beland. The homes on Teppert, Beland and Runyon are less than a half a mile apart.

    Prosecutors challenged Rice and warned him about perjury.

    “Do you know the penalty for committing perjury?” Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Puleo asked.

    “I’m familiar with it, yes,” Rice answered.

    Rice described Sanford, now 16, as a “foster or step-nephew” whom he has known for more than 10 years. Rice is in a relationship with Sanford’s aunt.

    He testified that Sanford stayed in the basement of the home on Teppert for hours, playing on the computer while the adults cooked a roast dinner and conversed.

    Rice said the adults would have noticed if Sanford left the home through a back door on the first floor.

    “No, there’s no way,” Rice said, when asked whether Sanford could have slipped out the door.

    On the night of the killings, neighbors said they heard a succession of 30 gunshots. Killed were Michael Robinson, 33; D’Angelo McNoriell and Brian Dixon, who were in their early 20s, and Nicole Chapman, 25. Valerie Glover, 30, was critically wounded. A 7-year-old boy was found unharmed.

    Police said Sanford, who was 14 at the time of the shooting in the 19700 block of Runyon, told them he and his friends plotted to rob a drug house and wound up shooting those inside.

    According to his confession, Sanford said all four suspects had guns, and he used an M14 rifle that he tossed after the shooting. He said the gun did not belong to him.

    After a two-day bench trial in March 2008, Sanford accepted a deal and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and using a firearm during a felony. In April 2008, he was sentenced to 37 to 90 years in prison.

    Detroit homicide Sgt. Michael Russell testified over the summer that Sanford gave investigators a description of the clothes he was wearing the night of the killings. The black jeans and PayDay candy bar T-shirt he said he wore tested positive for gunshot residue, Russell said.

    But Rice testified that Sanford wore light-colored pajama pants to the house that night.

  36. Robert
    Posted November 29, 2009 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    If anyone can help me locate these articles, it would be greatly appreciated:

    Oct. 14, 2009 – Lawyer Wants Off Detroit Murder Case
    “A lawyer is asking to be taken off the case of an alleged setup man charged with solicitation of murder in connection with the 2007 shooting death of Rose Cobb, the wife of a former Detroit police sergeant.”

    Oct. 18, 2009 – Leads Are To Be Revisitd In Hit Man Case
    “Accused hit man Vincent Smothers has sat in a Wayne County Jail cell for 19 months awaiting trial on eight murder charges. But where are the men who allegedly hired him?”

    Oct. 19, 2009 – Trial For Accused Hit Man Delayed
    “The trial for accused hit man Vincent Smothers and one of his alleged accomplices was postponed from Nov. 2 until March 2.”

  37. Robert
    Posted November 29, 2009 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    I finally found this one:

    Trial for accused hit man delayed
    October 20, 2009 04:59 AM

    The trial for accused hit man Vincent Smothers and one of his alleged accomplices was postponed today from Nov. 2 until March 2.

    Smothers is accused of first-degree murder in connection with the Dec. 26, 2007, shooting death of Rose Cobb, who was married to former Detroit Police Sgt. David Cobb. Marzell Black, 21, of Detroit also is accused of solicitation of murder for acting as the alleged middleman in the killing.

    David Cobb also was arrested on suspicion that he contracted his wife’s killing, but subsequently was released after the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office cited a lack of evidence. Six months later, he hanged himself in a Sterling Heights park.

    Gabi Silver, Smothers’ attorney, said Smothers and Black would most likely be tried together with two juries that would deliberate separately.

    Smothers and Black told police Cobb hired Smothers to kill Rose Cobb, according to the court file. Black acted as the go-between and drove Smothers to the killing site, a CVS pharmacy on Jefferson, according to a police report.

    One reason for the trial delays is that Black has parted ways with his lawyer, Wright Blake. Blake told the Free Press last week that he and Black “weren’t on the same page.”

    Today, Wayne County Circuit Judge Craig Strong allowed attorney Tyrone Bickherdt to take over for Blake.

    Smothers, who was arrested with Black in April 2008, is also facing unscheduled murder trials in connection with seven other killings, all believed to be hired hits.

  38. Robert
    Posted November 29, 2009 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    Leads are to be revisited in hit man case
    Task force to look into drug dealer claims
    Oct. 18, 2009

    An elite multi-jurisdictional task force taking a fresh look at the unsolved Tamara Greene murder will also revisit possible leads in the case of accused hit man Vincent Smothers.

    The investigation into Smothers, who is awaiting trial on eight murder charges, reportedly stalled last year after Detroit police Detective Ira Todd was transferred out of the task force.

    Todd sued the city shortly afterward, alleging he was kicked out because he had established a possible link between Smothers and a reputed drug dealer in Lexington, Ky., who bragged to Kentucky police officers that he had personal and professional connections to former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

    The claim has never been proved, and none of the people who allegedly hired Smothers have been charged.

    “The Kentucky drug dealer is the individual who had bragged about knowing former Mayor Kilpatrick,” Detroit police spokesman John Roach said. “That was the time at which the officers felt the investigation got shut down because they weren’t allowed to go to Kentucky to talk to the drug dealer.”

    Roach said Todd’s suit led Police Chief Warren Evans to call for the Violent Crimes Task Force to take a harder look at both the Smothers and Greene cases.

    Greene, a stripper known as Strawberry and rumored to have danced at a never-proven Manoogian Mansion party, was shot in a drive-by killing April 30, 2003, while parked in a Buick Skylark at West Outer Drive and Roselawn.

    Members of the task force who testified recently in depositions for Todd’s lawsuit said the Smothers investigation died after Todd’s abrupt transfer in May 2008.

    “The case was brought to a screeching halt,” said Detroit police Officer Alejandro Parra, a seven-year veteran of the task force. “No one else did anything on it. It was stalled.”

    Smothers was arrested in April 2008 and is awaiting trial on a slew of cases including the killing of Rose Cobb, who was married to a Detroit police sergeant who may have contracted her hit.

    Detective’s ouster thwarted hit man case, police testify

    Smothers has sat in a Wayne County Jail cell for 19 months awaiting trial.

    But where are the men who allegedly hired him?

    Todd, 51, described by his colleagues as the department’s best interrogator, is suing the city and Kilpatrick, claiming the words of a reputed drug dealer in Kentucky led to his ouster from the highly respected Violent Crimes Task Force.

    The drug dealer was close to Smothers, Todd claims, and bragged to Kentucky law enforcement agents that he also was close to Kilpatrick.

    One Detroit police investigator lamented in a recent deposition in Todd’s lawsuit that they may never know who ordered the hits allegedly carried out by Smothers.

    “Smothers has … his crew out there and they’re whacking people all over the city,” Detroit police Investigator Arthur Wimmer testified in August. “And that’s all we wanted to do was go in that direction and close out these cases and put those people in prison.”

    Wimmer testified there could have been others connected to drug rings and contract killings.

    “We never even got to go down that road. When Ira got disciplined, in my opinion, that was a clear message to us to back off,” he said. “And that’s what I did.”

    Police were looking into Smothers’ associations with local gangs known as the Hustle Boys and Medbury Goons, according to the depositions.

    But Todd’s transfer changed all that, according to his colleagues.

    “Knowing now what occurred, he was punished for putting that in writing in my opinion,” Detroit police Sgt. Benito Mendoza testified about Todd’s reports. “Unfortunately, politics, I believe, got involved in this and he was punished for it.”

    The task force — made up of Detroit and State police, FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents, and Wayne County sheriff’s deputies — takes on high-profile cases that sometimes cross jurisdictions. Todd had been a member for 15 years.

    The possibility that Kilpatrick had any connection to Smothers remains speculation and hearsay.

    But police spokesman John Roach acknowledged that the officers appeared to have left the case alone after Todd was transferred.

    What remains unknown is whether Smothers could have led investigators to the big-time criminals who paid for the killings.

    “By never closing out the investigation, we don’t know for sure if we got the whole crew,” said Wayne County sheriff’s deputy Donald Farris, a task force member.

    Todd’s lawyer, Mike Stefani, said Detroit citizens deserve justice.

    “There could still be someone out there paying other guys like Smothers to go out and kill people,” Stefani said. “That … was the thing that was most detrimental to the citizens of the city of Detroit.”

  39. Paul Stipps
    Posted November 30, 2009 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Robert, I must be slow. I can’t really follow what’s going on. What’s the narrative here? And why should we be interested in this case?

  40. Robert
    Posted November 30, 2009 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for asking, Paul Stipps.

    The reason the Smothers case is so interesting is because it offers a glimpse into some of the means and methods employed by organized crime syndicates as they act to cultivate and protect assets.

    Davontae Sanford, for example, was framed for a reason. It was clearly done on orders, for the purpose of protecting Smothers as an asset. No two-bit drug smuggler like Adarus Mazio Black has that kind of reach. Only well established regional syndicates have the means to impose that level of influence over criminal investigations.

    Many may expect investigations into all of this to be a breeze now that Kilpatrick is out of the Mayor’s job and Adarus Black is in custody, because they believe, as it is being played in the media, that those individuals were at the top of the chain. However, the manipulation and threats won’t stop here. The syndicate which developed Black and Smothers as assets will be doing everything necessary to keep the investigations from going any deeper (or higher) than the surface we see now.

  41. Robert
    Posted December 3, 2009 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    Paul Stripps, I realize I could have been more concise in my answer to your questions. Sorry about that. Is there something specific that you are wondering about with regard to this and related investigations?

    Posted December 4, 2009 at 5:33 pm | Permalink


    Posted December 4, 2009 at 5:43 pm | Permalink


    Posted December 4, 2009 at 9:39 pm | Permalink


  45. dragon
    Posted December 5, 2009 at 1:34 am | Permalink


    More CAPS, you have “what appears to be a dynamite type.”
    May I suggest you just lock caps and “really explore the blog space this time.”

    I got a fever, and the only prescription… is more Caplock!”

  46. Robert
    Posted December 5, 2009 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Taminko and Deshonda, thank you for posting your comments to this blog. Please return frequently with any updates on Devontae’s status.

  47. Heidi
    Posted December 5, 2009 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Just a quick FYI
    I’m so proud :] just deleted my and a few other people’s comments when I tried to ask them why the Ypsilanti Starlight Spree was not covered in the paper!

    I was told that they stream all of their news information from the Ypsilanti Citizen and that I and a few others needed to take my converstation elsewhere.

    Sorry needed to rant, not happy with this paper at all and their coverage of Ypsilanti.

  48. Heidi
    Posted December 5, 2009 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Oh and in my rant mentality..looks like I can’t spell either…that should be conversations elsewhere. sorry.

  49. Heidi
    Posted December 5, 2009 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Oh Wait, they now made the conversation about Ypsilanti News coverage on into a news article.
    Please feel free to join in with comments…Please!

    Posted December 7, 2009 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Dear Robert, Thank you for your support Davontae next court date is this Friday on the llth of December the hearing is still going on.i will keep you an the other supporter’s up dated about this hopefully justice will prevail KEEP US IN OUR PRAYER’S,THANK’S FOR CARING!!!!

    Posted December 7, 2009 at 1:25 pm | Permalink


    Posted December 7, 2009 at 1:25 pm | Permalink


  53. The Kingpin
    Posted December 7, 2009 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Good luck Taminko and Deshonda. You are in my thoughts. I hope they free your brother/son. This story just turns my stomach. i hope that when they do eventually free him , that the prosecutors and police that helped to put him in jail and keep him there, are held responsible for their actions.

    Posted December 7, 2009 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    Dear Kingpin, thank u for your comment and your support this has been so Hard on us but we are ” KEEPING OUR FAITH IN GOD” My heart aches Everyday knowing what my son is going thourgh and i can’t help him,And They won’t admitted to their wrong doing.Keep us in your thoughts And Prayer’s Thank You Again. A Heart – Broken -Mother

    Posted December 7, 2009 at 9:44 pm | Permalink


  56. Robert
    Posted December 8, 2009 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    I’ve set up a “FREE DAVONTAE SANFORD” blog where I will post articles and document the details of the case.

    Here is the blog address:

    It was obvious from the beginning that Devontae was being framed. Everyone involved in this case was deliberately not doing their jobs. Now they’ll be stalling and trying to play stupid in order to cover up as much as possible.

    Posted December 8, 2009 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Thank You Robert ,I seen your page thank’s a million,i will keep you update it should be on the 5 oclock news this FRIDAY on channel 7 at Five Or six and in the Fress Press Saturday anything i can help you with please Be free to ask me ,if i have more supporter’s like you i would be able To hold a Rally for him .Davontae dont even know Mr. Smothers Why would a Professional hit man take a Special-Ed,legally blind boy with him Davontae would of been name him or smothers would of kill him in the house Because Him know he would of told on him Smothers is a hit man not a BabySitter!!!!

  58. Reginald Fox Scrotum
    Posted December 8, 2009 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    Can we please talk about Tiger Woods? I hear that he banged his mother-in-law into a coma last night.

    Posted December 9, 2009 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    We are talking about a innocence child in jail for the rest of his life because Of LIES,CORRUPTION, and NO justice with our system .BY THE WAY I hope Tiger Woods Mother-In-Law has a quick recovery,and may god be With her as well as my son

  60. Robert
    Posted December 9, 2009 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    You are very right, Taminko. There is no reason that Smothers would have involved your son. Doing so would have only added another witness and potentially complicated the job.

    Please keep us up to date here and tell us how things go on Friday.

  61. Robert
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    I hope there have been some positive developments today in Davontae’s hearing.

  62. Posted December 11, 2009 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Well, what do you know. Looks like the frame-up job on Davontae Sanford is really falling apart:

    Davontae Sanford’s lawyer seeks to have conviction tossed out


    A Detroit Police chaplain testified during a court hearing today that the person who fired a gun at him moments after a shooting on his street was at least 6 inches taller than a teen who is imprisoned for the 2007 quadruple killings.

    The Rev. Jesse King testified that he saw two people wearing long black coats and ski masks seconds after four people were killed Sept. 17, 2007, in a drug house on Runyon on Detroit’s east side. King said the taller of the two men, whom he described as being at least 5-feet-ll, used a rifle to fire three rounds into King’s house as he watched from his porch. King returned fire and retreated inside.

    “When I seen them coming up I knew something wasn’t right,” said King, 60. “Instinct kicked in and I stepped back into my home.”

    Police have said Davontae Sanford, who was 14 at the time of the shooting in the 19700 block of Runyon, told them he and his friends plotted to rob a drug house and wound up shooting those inside. But Sanford’s appellate attorney said investigators in both written reports and in court testimony have acknowledged that Sanford is only 5-feet-5.

    “This is just further evidence that Davontae could not have committed these shootings,” said attorney Kim McGinnis at the appellate hearing where he is seeking to overturn the guilty verdict and grant Sanford a new trial..

    In October, a retired Detroit homicide commander provided an alibi for Sanford. William Rice, a 25-year veteran, testified that Sanford with him at Sanford’s aunt’s house for dinner at the time of the shooting.

    Vincent Smothers, suspected of being a hit man, also has confessed to the killings, but has not been charged. Smothers has confessed to killing at least seven people, including the wife of a Detroit Police sergeant. Police say he may have acted in concert with Sanford.

    According to his confession, Sanford said he and three other suspects had guns, and he used an M14 rifle that he tossed after the shooting. Sanford also confessed that he fired the rifle, which he said did not belong to him, at King after the shooting.

    King said he could not describe the shooter other than his outerwear and height. “My focus was on my life, defending my home and my territory,” he said in Wayne County Circuit Court.

    McGinnis has argued that Sanford, now 17, was likely fed information by homicide investigators and later included those details in his confession. Sanford has a learning disability and was reading at a third-grade level at the time of the incident. He is also blind in one eye.

    After a two-day bench trial in March 2008, Sanford accepted a deal and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and using a firearm during a felony. In April 2008, he was sentenced to 37 to 90 years in prison.

    Sanford is in prison at the Thumb Correctional Facility in Lapeer. Court proceedings are expected to continue in Wayne County Judge Brian Sullivan’s courtroom in January.


    Posted December 11, 2009 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    Dear Robert,Please read SUZETTE HACKNEY story about court today MS.HACKNEY has been there for me and my son Davontae since day one I Thank God for people like her and her co -worker Ben and even you Robert And ALL the supporter’s THANK YOU!!!!

    Posted December 12, 2009 at 12:02 pm | Permalink


    Posted December 12, 2009 at 12:04 pm | Permalink


  66. Robert
    Posted December 13, 2009 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Taminko and Deshonda, did Judge Sullivan set a date in January for these proceedings to continue?

  67. Kim
    Posted December 14, 2009 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    If this isn’t a joke, I think it’s sad:


  68. Fred
    Posted December 14, 2009 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Kim, you, my friend, are an elitist.

  69. Posted December 14, 2009 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Sorry to change the subject, but this just in from HESNA regarding the Thompson deBlockle:

    “At the Tuesday, December 15th City Council meeting, there will be a resolution asking for a 45 day extension of the temporary traffic control order to close westbound traffic on East Cross Street from Park to North River Streets.

    All intersted parties are encouraged to attend and weigh in on the issue at audience participation. Interested parties are also encouraged to express their opinions to City Council via email. A list of addresses may be found at”

  70. Robert
    Posted December 14, 2009 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Easy, Kim. Deshonda is the younger sister of this kid that was framed for a quadruple homicide. I don’t know if you read that part. I cut her a little slack on the slang thing being that she’s a young kid from the inner city and all, and because her older brother has been framed for murder.

  71. Taminko Sanford
    Posted December 15, 2009 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Dear Robert,the next court date is JANAURAY 8,2010 AT 9 A.M. I hope you Was able to read last saturday fREE PRESS it was very interesting,about the Chaplin story that the people was 5’8 to 6’1 and Davontae was only 5’5 at The time of the killing’s took place

  72. Taminko Sanford
    Posted December 15, 2009 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    I miss you so much man i know you want that Chinese Food so much !_LoL haha! MISS U !!!!!AM going to save my money and get u some Chinese Food When you came home!_LOL LOVE YOUR BABY SISTER,LA’MAZE

  73. Robert
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    Yes Taminko, I have been keeping up on the reporting of this case in the media. I’d like to see as much attention brought to the details of it as possible. The public should know.

  74. Taminko Sanford
    Posted December 17, 2009 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    You a right Robert the story is unwinding,but slow and the public should know how Detroit Police has locked a Innocent boy up for a crime he did’nt Commit i prayed everyday that justice be served the right way this time.And me and my family can put this behind us especially Davontae,And the families get the closure they need and may god be with Them and thank again Robert for your support am trying to set up a rally For Davontae i need the public help i would like it to be on one of his court Date’s maybe more than one HAPPY HOLIDAY’S ROBERT TO YOU AND FAMILY AND ALL THE SUPPORTER’S

  75. Robert
    Posted December 17, 2009 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    Just to make it clear here again, let me go over the details which show Davontae was framed for this quadruple homicide:

    – Davontae was 14 years old at the time.
    – has the use of only one eye.
    – is learning disabled.
    – approached detectives wanting to help. They didn’t track him down.
    – had no lawyer present during questioning.
    – had no family present either.
    – said 4 conspirators were involved. All witnesses report only 2.
    – could not draw an accurate map of the scene and placement of bodies.
    – could NOT correctly identify the weapons used in the killings.
    – had no gun residue on his person whatsoever.
    – Residue was on other clothes proving only that he had shot a gun before.
    – He had an alibi provided from day one by his mother Tominko.
    – When she tried to tell of the alibi she was threatened with arrest.
    – Retired DPD homicide commander William Rice also confirms his alibi.
    – Police Chaplain and witness identifies shooter as 5 or more inches taller.
    – Confessed contract killer Vincent Smothers confessed to the killings.
    – Smothers correctly identifies all details of shootings.
    – Smothers refuses to identify accomplice. If it were Davontae he could.
    – Ira Todd, Chief investigator on Smothers case is blocked by superiors.
    – DPD crime lab is shut down months later for massive misreporting.

    This teenager has been incarcerated for more than two years now for a crime it is obvious he did not commit and COULD NOT have committed. And this has happened within a context of obvious official corruption and organized criminal involvement.

  76. Taminko Sanford
    Posted December 18, 2009 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    I can’t wait to you come home with the Family and with me too Love,La’Maze I love you so much and miss you so much the family is so Lonely without you,we think about you everyday all-day their alot of Breaking-hearted people because of what the system have done to our Family,And torn us apart I HOPE JUSTICE WILL PREVAIL AND THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FR EE!!!! YOUR Sister,La’Maze 9

  77. Taminko Sanford
    Posted December 19, 2009 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Yes Robert,you are right and their are more detail’s then that Davontae Never want to take a plea but we was advised by are lawyer to take It.Davontae alway’s want to fight this because he know of his Innocence From day one the lawyer never call no witness say they the had edivence That now is not true since the case has been re-open and know want to get On the stand and testified against us with more lies so know i felt he just Took our money and have alway’s been with THE OTHER SIDE their are alot of people in this CORRUPTION OF LIES IT’S DEEP!!!

  78. Taminko Sanford
    Posted December 19, 2009 at 8:45 am | Permalink


  79. Posted December 19, 2009 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    funny, funny stuff, not at all related to framing kids as hit men.

    Posted December 20, 2009 at 3:28 pm | Permalink


  81. Taminko Sanford
    Posted December 20, 2009 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    Are heart’s are gettin empty another holiday with out Davontae.Are heart’s are gettin weak, another day without him.Are tear;s are over flowing with Sadness,our laugh’s are disappearing into frown’s,are memories are Starting to fading it seem like it has been so long,Our faith has been weary and are Patience is fading but our love will constanly grow, And the leisure of God’s angel’s will LOVE,PROTECT AND WATCH OVER YOU PLEASE GOD HEAR THIS FAMILY PRAY AND PUT THIS FAMILY BACK TOGETHER AND BRING DAVONTAE HOME!!!!

  82. Robert
    Posted December 21, 2009 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Tominko and Deshonda, I am sorry Davontae is spending another holiday season away from home. I hope you are able to communicate with him frequently and keep his spirits up.

  83. Taminko Sanford
    Posted December 23, 2009 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Dear Robert,yes i talked to Davontae Monday night for about 5 minutes he Was just wandering what the family will be doing on Christmas?He’s spirit’s are ok and he keep asking momma what are they going to do in Janauray W hen i got back to court?We mailed him serveral Christmas Card’s too Hopefully on Christmas his spirit’s will be better than our’s

  84. Robert
    Posted December 27, 2009 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Just as I said, Vincent Smothers is likely to die before revealing much more about his activities as a contract killer. His recruiters, handlers and their clients all have an interest in seeing him dead now.

    It is being reported that Smothers was found hanged in his cell yesterday morning, but that he was not dead. It’s being called a suicide attempt, but it is obvious of course that no investigation into what happened exactly could have been conducted yet. I’m guessing he wasn’t conscious when he was found either. Now the word is that he has been moved to an unnamed hospital where he is receiving medical attention. I assume he is also under pretty heavy guard and protection, if he is even still alive.


    Detroit News staff and wire reports

    Detroit –A self-described hit man facing charges in the slaying of the wife of a police officer attempted suicide Friday in a Wayne County jail.

    Vincent Smothers, 28, was found hanging in a cell about 8:30 a.m., Sheriff’s Office officials said. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment, but his condition wasn’t known Saturday night.

    Increased security observation may have aided in preventing his death. Jail personnel were instructed to increase their security rounds this weekend “based on research showing a spike in suicide attempts during the holiday season,” the Sheriff’s Office said.

    Smothers has been charged with fatally shooting eight people in six separate murder cases. He told police he was paid $60,000 for working as a hit man in 2006 and 2007.

    Smothers is charged with shooting Rose Cobb, wife of Detroit Police Officer David Cobb, as she sat in a van on the day after Christmas 2007. Smothers said it was arranged by Cobb, who was never charged. Earlier this year, a judge in Detroit refused to throw out Smothers’ confession, saying there was nothing illegal about the tactics used by police to get the confession in April 2008.

    Cobb hanged himself last year.

  85. Robert
    Posted December 27, 2009 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    WWJ is the first to report that Smothers is facing 13 counts of 1st degree murder. Up until now everyone was only accounting for 8 counts. I’m guessing that means they have gone ahead and charged him in the Runyon Street quadruple homicide. I’m not sure where that extra fifth count came from though.

    Suspected hit man Vincent Smothers tries to commit suicide by hanging in his jail cell

    By Sheena Harrison |
    December 27, 2009, 9:56AM

    AP File PhotoIn this April 21, 2008 file photo, Vincent Smothers attends his arraignment in Detroit’s 36th District Court.

    Vincent Smothers, the man accused of killing a Detroit police sergeant’s wife and others for money, is being treated at a local hospital after he was found hanging in his Wayne County Jail cell on Saturday morning.

    Smothers’ condition is unknown, according to WWJ.

    The 28-year-old man is facing 13 counts of first-degree murder, including the December 2007 shooting death of Rose Cobb, according to WWJ. Smothers told police that he was hired by Cobb’s husband, David Cobb, to murder the woman.

    Smothers allegedly told police in a 2008 confession that, “I don’t have a profession. I kill people for money.” He claims to have made $60,000 in two years as a hit man.

    The Detroit News said security patrols at the jail had been stepped up for the holidays, which may have helped guards to find Smothers while he was still alive.

  86. Posted December 27, 2009 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the follow up, Robert. Regardless of what the truth turns out to be, this is an amazing and tragic case.

  87. Taminko Sanford
    Posted December 27, 2009 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    My heart and my prayer’s go out to Vicent Smothers and his family may God be with him but i feel that death is to easy for him due to how these Families had to suffering from losing they love-ones, you do the crime, YOU DO THE TIME!!!and what chance will my son Davontae have if he die?The System will win and the case will be closed with lies and corruption and A Innocent boy life also will be gone!!! Where do we go from here?

  88. Robert
    Posted December 28, 2009 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Yes, Taminko, hopefully the State Police and/or the feds are wising up and placing Smothers under guard for the duration of these trials. Simply by naming his accomplice in the Runyon Street killings he can exonerate Davontae.

  89. Taminko Sanford
    Posted December 30, 2009 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Dear Robert,i pray everyday that it goes like this but as we know they don’t Want to admitted they wrong’s so they want people to believe that Davontae Know Vicent Smothers only thing they got is lies on top of lies how sad when These people supposed to be here to protected us?Have you heard anything Else about Vicent Smothers?Hopefully Judge Sullivan will see they are Lying and go thourgh the fact’s himself this time and see all the loop hole’s This case has in it the are many!!

  90. Robert
    Posted December 31, 2009 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    No Taminko, I haven’t seen anything at all regarding Vincent Smothers or his condition since Saturday. It will be very interesting to hear word of whether he is alive or not and if state or federal authorities have stepped in to protect him.

    I think Davontae has an excellent chance of getting a new trial regardless of what happens with Smothers. I am sure Judge Sullivan is very aware of the fact that Davontae was deliberately framed. The process of rectifying things will take some time however.

  91. the kingpin
    Posted December 31, 2009 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    We need to set up our Justice system like a Netflix cue. sometimes things just have to go to the top of the list…like this case.

  92. Taminko Sanford
    Posted January 1, 2010 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Dear Robert, i hope they are finally doing they job this time. Someday’s i Don’t understand why is the truth taking so long too come out but it seen Like the longer we wait the more this story is getting more interesting Falling apart,more people involement’s, my son justice is worth waiting On Have a Blessed New Year to come and thank’s for your support

  93. Taminko Sanford
    Posted January 1, 2010 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Dear King Pin,you are right some case need’s more attention,more support And most of all some honstely people around that care about other people Have a blessed NEW YEAR to come and thank’s for your support

  94. Posted January 1, 2010 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Robert, if you can boil all of this down to a few paragraphs, and include a few links, I’d be happy to start a thread on the front page. It seems odd to be discussing as significant as this in an old open thread.

  95. Robert
    Posted January 2, 2010 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    Ok, Mark, I’ll see what I can put together. In the mean time, Smothers does appear to have survived his alleged suicide attempt, and as of yesterday has been returnd to his cell in the Wayne County Jail.


    by Naomi R. Patton
    Free Press Staff Writer

    Self-professed hit man Vincent Smothers, who police said claimed he killed a Detroit police officer’s wife, was returned to the Wayne County Jail on Friday following treatment at a local hospital for injuries he received from a suicide attempt.

    Smothers, 28, was found hanging in an area in the jail Dec. 26 by jail personnel.

    Smothers, who was under constant surveillance by county sheriff’s deputies while hospitalized, is being held in the jail on 28 charges — including 13 charges of first-degree murder.

    One case involved the slaying of Rose Cobb, the wife of David Cobb, a Detroit police sergeant who eventually committed suicide in a Sterling Heights park.

    Smothers was arrested in 2008. He last appeared in court in October.

    In another case, Smothers confessed in a written statement to being involved in a 2007 quadruple killing on Runyon Street in Detroit. Davontae Sanford, now 16, was convicted in that shooting.

    Sanford is now appealing to get a new trial. Smothers was called to testify in a hearing in July for Sanford, but he kept silent, asserting his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.

  96. Oliva
    Posted January 2, 2010 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    This is such a confusing case to me and maybe to others, and there’s obviously not enough attention being paid so that more people know and care. Could somebody who understands it clearly get a hold of someone at UM Law School or a different law school who could get involved and help get to some justice? Is just so troubling, heartbreaking, to read Davontae’s family’s posts–but I’m so grateful for their dialogue here with Robert.

  97. Taminko Sanford
    Posted January 4, 2010 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    Dear Oliva,thank’s for your support and your concern’s everybody trying To push this under the rug if you have any resource’s that you might feel Can help please share the information with me

  98. Taminko Sanford
    Posted January 4, 2010 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    Dear Robert,thank’s for the updated on Smothers thank God he made it.Im glad He has been charged in the Runyon Street Killing hopefully the families can have some peace in their live’s because the pain will never Go away and hopefully Davontae will be exonerated from this case and the Right person will be charged in the case i guess the next trick they will try To play is Davontae know Smother’s instead of admitting to they wrong’sD avontae next court date is Janauray 8,2010 i will keep you update with the Case Thank’s Again Robert for your support

  99. Taminko Sanford
    Posted January 4, 2010 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    Dear Oliva, i will also keep you update on the case the next court date is this Friday Janauray 8,2010 the story will also be in the Free Press Newspaper this Saturday Janauray 9,2010 with detail’s about what happened in court If the court session be held on Friday Thank you Again Oliva

  100. Taminko Sanford
    Posted January 7, 2010 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    As it look’s like the system keep having they fault’s and fun not caring about a Innocence little boy in jail unforuntly they won’t even make sure he get’s to Court for his court date’s they was post-poned more than 4 times last Year now they are starting off with the same tactis this year as of dont nobody care he hasn’t even arrived yet when my son should have been here already it’s not their kid’s so why care?how can i get someone to help me with this system the system is just dogging my baby?how much more can Davontae go thourgh?It’s not fair to him or even his familykeep us in your Prayer’s please and please help us if you can i will keep the supporter’ Update On the court date day

  101. Robert
    Posted January 7, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Taminko, has tomorrow’s court date been postponed?

    I know Davontae’s attorney Kim McGinnis must be pretty busy with her caseload. How often are you able to speak with her?

  102. Taminko Sanford
    Posted January 7, 2010 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    Dear Robert,yes court has been postponed for tomorrow Kim Mcginnes will still be there wandering why their wasn’t a writ for Davontae to come to Court tomorrow i sometimes talk to kim 3 or 4 times a week the conseulor From Lapeer called today why is Davontae still here how are they keep making mistakes about his court dates you know how many times this Happen last year he’s been very emontional saying he dont supposed to be Here and nobody seem to care she going to try to let me talk to him Tommorow he’s on 4 different medicine’s for depression at the facility The only Thing i can do for him is pray for him and ask God to strengthen him And to keep him safe and hope that the system NEVER GET CHANCE TO DO THIS TO A NOTHER FAMILY OR ANOTHER INNOCENT PERSON THESE THING’S MUST STOP!!!I know their should be help for situation’s like

  103. Robert
    Posted January 7, 2010 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    I think it would be a good idea to start putting together an organization of people interested in taking action to bring public attention to this case. As Oliva suggested, there may be resources available through the University of Michigan Law School and the Wayne State University Law School which can assist with preparing additional legal and political action. I would like to help in any way I can.

  104. Taminko Sanford
    Posted January 7, 2010 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    This is new to me i dont know who to start with or what to start with or Even how to start i really need help i don’t even know how to contact the University of Michigan Law School if you or the other’s supporter’s can help please help me or give me information that can help me am lost with this Robert,i try to have a rally their was not enought support from the public The public need’s to know what going on am going to contact Bill Proctor tomorrow to see if he will run a story for me i would love to have a organization that would help us we need help i would do whatever i have to Do to Help my son they are loving this nobody is fighting back with them as long As we are not fighthing back the lies will remain and they will win and My son will stay where he’s at in jail for a crime he didn’t commited and the case Will stay under the rug and they will keep putting innocent people in jail and getting away with it and this is sad and my heart is weaking i feel like am putting him down as his mother mother alway’s supposed to be here to help their kid’s when they need their mother

  105. Taminko Sanford
    Posted January 8, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Today i was informed that Vicent Smother’s has not been chargerd in the Runyon Street Killing’s yet.They have not set a new court date for Davontae yet Judge Sullivan give KimMCGinnes oppurnity to view some Of Vicent SMOTHER’S interrrogation it’s about 25 hrs long after she watch and make a decision then they will give Davontae a court date she said maybe in a month from my understsnding nothing about runyon is in the paperwork i Will find more im going to give her chance to look at it first to see if it can help us?some thing is wrong somewhere we need help

  106. Taminko Sanford
    Posted January 8, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Why havent Ira TODD step up the one Smothers supposed to confessed the Crime too ? Why

  107. Robert
    Posted January 8, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Smothers hasn’t been charged in the Runyon Street killings? That is very strange. WWJ reported that he has been charged with 13 counts of 1st-degree murder. However, only 11 individuals have been named in the press. This case is getting more and more bizarre by the day.

    I will check at with the U of M Law School and see what I can find out about getting assistance with this.

    Bill Proctor and the Proving Innocence project can be asked to step up their attention to this matter also. The investigative teams at Channels 2, 4 and 7 can also be asked to look further into what is going on here.

    Formal requests to state and federal law enforcement agencies should be made asking that they investigate the conduct of the officials involved in the bogus original investigation of the Runyon Street murders. It is clear that there was a considerable amount of improper conduct there. State and Federal legislative offices can help with making those requests.

    A formal complaint against Davontae’s original attorney should also be made with the State Bar Association. It was very suspicious that he did not call William Rice and Rev. Jesse King to testify.

    All of these actions and more are best handled through attorneys. We may be able to get some pretty good ones to do it pro-bono because it involves such grievous infringements upon basic legal rights. Everyone should be concerned about this case.

  108. Robert
    Posted January 8, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Investigator Todd would have to be called to testify in Davontae’s appeal by McGinnis. I guarentee he won’t volunteer, and he probably will try not to co-operate even if McGinnis does try to bring him in. Todd knows very well what kind of people are behind all this. This is way bigger than everyone is pretending.

  109. Taminko SANFORD
    Posted January 8, 2010 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    Dear Robert,i found out shortly that Ira Todd was fired he has a lawsuit Against Detroit Police i will try to contact some news station’s An Hopefully they will pick this story up again how can i contact the legislative office and let them know what going on about this case i appericated you so much Robert for even helping me this far with this case that’s how they got me and my son they know we wasn’t educated about thing’s like this they look for people like us to make a fool out of, was their any of the name of the people on Runyon named in the paper?i agree with you about that lawyer do you think i should start the paper work now?where do i go get the paper work at im sorry to keep asking you all this question’s I NEED HELP i think Ira Todd might help us i been having my hope’s up for alot of thing’s and we keep getting shot down nd now am starting to worried about the case and my baby

  110. Taminko SANFORD
    Posted January 8, 2010 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    This case is getting nasty don’t no body care how fair is this to Davontae!!!!!

  111. Robert
    Posted January 9, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Taminko, here is some contact information for the local TV investigative news teams:

    Fox 2 Problem Solvers:
    Amy Lange
    Scott Lewis
    Rob Wolchek
    (248) 552-5150

    Local 4 Defenders:
    Karen Drew
    Kevin Dietz
    Marc Santia

    7 Investigators:
    Steve Wilson
    Heather Catallo
    (248) 827-4387

    It may be possible to get some attorneys or law students to assist in contacting media and trying to bring Davontae’s case to the forefront.

    It seems to me that they should all be interested in interviewing William Rice and Rev. Jesse King about their testimony.

  112. Robert
    Posted January 9, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    It is pretty apparent that Davontae was framed for the same reasons that Todd’s investigation was hampered and then shut down by superiors. There is a widespread pattern of cover-up and misdirection regarding the Smothers contract killings and related cases.

    It is my understanding that Todd’s immediate supervisor at the time, Lt. Harold Rochon, told Todd, “This thing is bigger than you” and told him to take his vacation a week early. When Todd returned from vacation, he had been transferred off the case and to a precinct desk job.

  113. Taminko SANFORD
    Posted January 9, 2010 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much Robert for this information i will start contacting the Resource’s you provide for me first thing Monday Morning and yes you are Right what happen to Ira Todd since i have some resource’s now i will take The next step and see what can be done.and also ask them to provide me With other Legal help the media should be aware of this misconducted of The Detroit Police dept i believe kim said Ira no longer with the poice dept He’s has filed a lawsuit against them Thank’s Again Robert i will keep you update on everything that happen’s

  114. Robert
    Posted January 10, 2010 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    Taminko, you may prefer to first check with one or more of the law schools around town to see if they have services which provide legal assistance to local residents. They may be able to document the details of Davontae’s circumstances and provide guidance as to how to best proceed. If they cannot provide that help directly, they are likely to be able to direct you to local attorneys who offer free consultation and assistance in matters such as these. They may even volunteer to make the media contacts on your behalf.

    Wayne State University
    School of Law
    471 Palmer Ave West
    Detroit, MI
    (313) 577-5142‎

    University of Detroit Mercy
    School of Law
    651 Jefferson Ave East
    Detroit, MI
    (313) 596-0241‎

    Urban Law Clinic
    (313) 596-0262‎

  115. Taminko SANFORD
    Posted January 12, 2010 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Dear Robert,thank’s you again i would of been responed back but i been under the weather i will start contact these resource’s today i will also be Contacting Bill Proctor at ll today and ask him to run the story again i will Be touching basic with the other’s source’s you provide my with i wish me and you can put together a rally or an organization you’re such a good Person beside’s a supporter to me and my family i honstely apppericated you SO much i have mention you to Davontae too he said thank alot he told me Mama i guess everybody is not against me i will keep you update on my Every move and the feed back i will received from this resource’s Kim McGinnes said you can also contact her to share your thought’s and concern

  116. Taminko Sanford
    Posted January 15, 2010 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Dear Robert,,i havent forget about the thing’s i have to do im very sick with T he flu right now i will get on my job as soon as am doing better.I talk to Davontae this morning he very depressed i pray for him while he was on the phone he don’t know how much more time he can do he said alot of thought’s been going thourgh his mind kim almost done watching the tape as soon as she done we can get an court date by next Tuesday i will be back on the case i don’t have nobody will fill in for me about this thank’s again

  117. Robert
    Posted January 15, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Taminko, I think you should start off with the Urban Law Clinic at U of D Mercy and then Wayne State. They might be able to help put together a press release regarding your concerns regarding Davontae’s case. Then that could be forwarded to all the TV stations and other press.

  118. Posted January 16, 2010 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Robert, if you’ll write up the background on this, I’ll start a new thread on the front page. I don’t feel like this conversation should be buried in this old pizza coupon thread. It deserves better.

  119. DeShonda Davis
    Posted January 16, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Permalink


  120. Taminko Sanford
    Posted January 16, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    Thank you robert for the head up’s about who to contact i will get on the First thing Tuesday Morning the flu seem’s like it don’t want to leave But i Will be back at work Tuesday on this case reguardless how i feel i will keep You updated on everything that occur’s in this case

  121. Taminko Sanford
    Posted January 16, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Mark for wanting to give this case more attention what Everybody else doesn’t want trying to forget about an Innocent boy in jail For the rest of his life for a crime he did’nt even commit why is it so hard For The truth to come out when the truth is being told Thank’s again

  122. Robert
    Posted January 16, 2010 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    DeShonda, has a FREE DAVONTAE page been sut up on Facebook and/or Twitter? I think it might be a good way to keep people up to date on developments as they happen.

  123. Robert
    Posted January 17, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth (CWCY) has been covering some of the details and developments in Davontae’s case.

    Their site is here:

    They also have a facebook page where we may be able to keep people informed regarding Davontae’s case.

    Here’s the link to their facebook page:

  124. Taminko Sanford
    Posted January 17, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    Deshonda just put Davontae picture’ on the Center on Wrongful Conviction’s That we will keep updated about the case and she has also created him a Face Book with his picture and some of his article’s we will also keep that UpDated as the development’s happen’s in the case.Thank you for the Information i will be contacting them other’s source tomorrow about the Case

  125. Robert
    Posted January 20, 2010 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Excellent, Taminko and DeShonda, I will check out the sites.

    I will also be writing a summery of Davontae’s case for Mark to post as a new thread here on his blog.

  126. Taminko Sanford
    Posted January 20, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Dear Robert,thank’s let me know when the new thread open i waiting on Urban Law to contact me back me back

  127. Robert
    Posted January 23, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Taminko, you may also want to call the Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan School of Law, and ask them to mail you a request form to fill out. Their number is 734-763-9353.

    Check out their web page at the following link:

  128. Taminko Sanford
    Posted January 25, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Dear R obert thank’s again i just contacted the Innocence Clinic they are going to send me an application to send back in i left another message with
    Urban Law Clinic also hopefully they will contact me back this week some Time i been calliing Ms.McGaines a new court date has not been confirmed yet so am waiting on it i will keep you updated on anything that occur’s in this case Thank’s Again Robert for your Effort,Time and most of all your Support

  129. Taminko Sanford
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Dear Robert,the Universty of Mercy just contacted me back they doesn’t Handle criminal case’s at all.Am still waiting on the Urban Law Clinic to contact me back

  130. Taminko Sanford
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Dear Robert,i just received the information Innocence Clinic i will be mailing it back today the application said it will take about an year

  131. Robert
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Taminko, if you have any questions while filling out the form, feel free to ask me.

    The process with Michigan Law’s Innocence Clinic is slow but some things may be done to try to speed it up. In the mean time, a campaign to bring this case to the attention of state and federal authorities, the public and other potentially interested parties should be developed and carried out.

    You may want to start shopping for a law firm who might be interested in representing Davontae in a civil case against the city, the DPD, Davontae’s original attorney and any other parties who’s conduct in this case may be in question. The U of D Mercy legal clinic may be interested at that point since their thing is civil action. The Fieger Law firm is one from whom I would ask for a consultation also. They are attracted to high visibility cases, representing those who’ve been wronged by powerful interests. They have a lot of experience with these types of cases and may be interested in taking it on, advising along the way to the build-up to a considerable civil case.

    Those whose questionable conduct landed Davontae in prison should be aware that the well-being of this innocent teen is now their responsibility. They are legally accountable for all trauma and suffering he has, or will endure as a result of their questionable conduct.

  132. Taminko Sanford
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Dear Robert,what can i do to form a campaign or any event’s for Davontae i have talk to Feiger Law Firm last year about the case.We are still waiting on a court date me and Davontae talked to his lawyer she still haven’t heard nothing the Innocence Clinic has a guide line before you fill out the application and one of them say you must not be currently respresented by counsel so am puzzled about that when do you think it a good time to start looking?You know the case is still in the process of the hearing i believe they still have witness’s to call including are old lawyer he suppose to be testify against us with lies i know now he has alway’s been on the other side i never stated to him what he going to say i say that sad what’s in it for him

  133. Taminko Sanford
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    So am wandering since we got KimMcGainnes will they still look this paper Work over i think i still should fill it out and return it and let them make a decision on the they self what you think whay kind of campaign’s can i put together for Davontae any thing you feel i should do or can do please bring it to my attention i will do the best i can the is all new to me but for my son it’s worthy Thank’s Again Robert For You Support and Help

  134. Robert
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Taminko, I think I would fill the form out and send it in adding the note that Davontae’s case is being reexamined for appeal. It is my understanding that McGinnes only represents Davontae in the appeal for a retrial. Once the retrial is set, he will get a new attorney to represent him in that, I believe. Correct me if I am wrong. So as of yet, no particular attorney has been assigned. If I am correct about these details, I would assume it would be ok for you to send in the form requesting the Innocence Clinic’s representation. You may want to ask McGinnes about those specifics. If I were in your position I would not want another court appointed defender. I would want the U of M folks to come in instead.

    Have you been told not to identify Davontae’s original defense attorney by name? I’ve noticed you’ve never mentioned it.

    His reasons for lying could be many. First off, he’s definitely going to be trying to cover his ass from being disbarred. I am sure whatever it was that motivated him initially, to misrepresent Davontae in his case, is still there too.

    When you talked to the people at Fieger Law, did they express any interest or make any recommendations as to what direction you should head in first?

    If I were in your position, Taminko, I would set up a way that I could keep as many people informed on the details of the case as I could. I’d probably use an e-mailing list and a central place on the internet where anyone and everyone who might have some interest could easily get the latest information.

    Then I would contact every relevant individual, group or institution and bring them into that information loop.

  135. Taminko Sanford
    Posted January 30, 2010 at 12:07 am | Permalink

    Dear Robert,Rober Slammeck was the orginal Lawyer and he was a paid Lawyer Feiger law told me to contact them if Davontae get a another Trial i told them some detail’s of the case they said the was a little familiar With the case am going to re-contact them Monday to give them highlightin on the case and see what direction’s i can go.and yes Kim McGaines won’t be Are lawyer if we be granted another Trial am finshing up now on the paperwork am mailing it tomorrow i need the U&M TO HELP ME i don’t have the money right now for a lawyer i paid Slameck Ten Thousand and he did nothing he didnt even call a witness and told me and my baby to take that cop they had too much edivence against him i wil start up and e-mail tomorrow am thankful for people like you Robert and the other’s that why i alway’s keep Open Thread update everyday about the case and answer’s all the request’s how do i set a central place on the inernet because w need all the help we can get all the help!!! I Thank You for all the information you be given to me i dont have none Kim McGaines is a great lawyer to us be i need to help my baby am his Mother i would work with any group or person that can help us

  136. Taminko Sanford
    Posted January 30, 2010 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Dear Robert.i just mailed the application back Michigan Law Clinic i will keep update when i know something

  137. Robert
    Posted January 31, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    Ah, Taminko, you had Robert Slameka representing Davontae in the original defense. That’s terrible. He does not have a good reputation. You didn’t seek him out, I assume. I’m guessing he was the one who contacted you initially. Is that right, or did someone recommend him?

    You should write a review of Slameka and post it for others who may be considering hiring him. You can do that here:

    His reputation is so bad, NPR even did a radio piece on him:

    He needs to be disbarred. He should have been long ago. I think you’ll be filing a civil case against him at some point.

  138. Robert
    Posted February 1, 2010 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Taminko, I’m dying to know how you were put in touch with Slameka in the first place, because I’m betting you didn’t seek him out.

  139. Taminko Sanford
    Posted February 1, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Dear Robert,thank you for the information i read up on on it very interesting no i didnt know about Slammeck i had heard about him only from some people and i didnt know no better i just want someone to help my baby i didnt do my home work at all i guess that why we are in the mess like we are now that’s why i Thank God for Kim McGaines how hard she working for us and i didnt even pay her

  140. Taminko Sanford
    Posted February 13, 2010 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Dear Robert,yesterday Davontae went to court and the evidence techican testfited that she never found no casing from a mimi 14 davontae lawyer go back on March 26 to arguring about some more issuse’s that have came up Davontae doesn’t have to be their on March 26 we will get a another court date then for him if i hear anything i will keep you updated on any issuse if you have any thing that you feel can help keep brought it to my attention i hope everything is ok with you i havent heard from you youre my best supporter please stick in this with me

  141. Robert
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the updates, Taminko. I will be talking with Mark about getting a thread up here where we can post these updates.

    Things look good for a new trial for Davontae. It is going to take a lot of time though and Davontae will have to make the best of it where he is for now. I know that must be very difficult.

  142. Taminko Sanford
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    Dear Robert,it’s good to hear from you i will keep you updated what happen’s In March and when Davontae next court date is i appericated you and Mark for the support i alway’s tell’s Davontae to pray and remain strong some day’s are better than other’s i know the Michigan Clinic should receive his application by now he’s lawyer told me it will take aleast 7mths before we know if he’s coming home or not so i just keep prayin

  143. Robert
    Posted February 24, 2010 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Taminko, can you tell us what the conditions are like for Davontae up there in the Thumb Correctional Facility in Lapeer? Do they keep them in 2-man cells or are they housed in larger barracks-style rooms? Are inmates there allowed much access to recreation or books? I’d be interested in hearing the details of what the conditions are in there.

    I see that the Court of Appeals is now posting the docket for Davontae’s case online. That’s a good thing.

    Here’s the link:

  144. Stephen Salter
    Posted February 24, 2010 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    Why do you want to know, are you thinking of busting him out, Robert?

  145. Robert
    Posted February 24, 2010 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Stephen, I’m sorry if you don’t give a shit what the conditions are for this innocent kid, but I do.

  146. Taminko Sanford
    Posted February 26, 2010 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    Dear Robert,KimMcGaines went to court today Judge Sullivan denied her request today about releasing all the information about Vicent Smothers she need’s she going to the Court of Appeal for a motion Davontae next court Date is March 15,2010 two witness supposed to appear one is a police officer N ame Geral Williams and the person from the Ballistic Testing Center

  147. Robert
    Posted March 7, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Mark, there was a pretty good article regarding the Davontae Sanford case which appeared in the Detroit Free Press back in July of last year. If you’d like to start a new thread here where Tominko can keep us updated on Davontae’s situation, a reprint of the article might be a good way to give readers some background.

    Here’s the article:

    Justice hopes for a new trial
    July 16, 2009 19:45 PM

    When law enforcement officials refuse to admit mistakes — and yes, they do make them — it perpetuates the worst kind of injustice.

    Remember Detroit’s Eddie Joe Lloyd? DNA tests freed him in 2002 after he spent 17 years in prison for a murder and rape he didn’t do. After Lloyd’s release, Judge Leonard Townsend said he didn’t regret a thing.

    Two years later, when DNA evidence cleared Daron Caldwell in the high-profile fireworks shooting, Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy were equally unapologetic.

    These attitudes create animosity in the community — something Detroit police and prosecutors can no longer afford if they want to gain trust and reduce crime. Talk to people in the neighborhoods, especially young men. Many believe law enforcement routinely railroads people.

    Which brings me to 16-year-old Davontae Sanford. He’s serving 37 to 90 years for four murders at a suspected drug house on Runyon Street in September 2007. Vincent Smothers confessed to the same murders in April 2008. A self-professed hit man, Smothers, 27, has been charged with first-degree murder in six other cases involving 11 victims. Still, Worthy’s office has declined to help the teenager get another trial. Worthy declined to comment specifically on the case, calling my column premature in light of an upcoming hearing.

    The government had even failed to hand over Smothers’ confession to Davontae’s attorney, Kim McGinnis. Prosecutors denied it existed until February, when Wayne County Circuit Judge Brian Sullivan ordered them to turn it over to the State Appellate Defender’s Office.

    An evidentiary hearing on Tuesday will determine whether Davontae can withdraw his March 2008 plea and get the new trial he deserves.

    Confessions and evidence

    False confessions aren’t unusual, especially with teenagers who are vulnerable to sophisticated interrogation tactics. A special education student who read at a third-grade level, Davontae was insecure and eager to fit in. Smothers’ confession, unlike Davontae’s, fits the forensic evidence and an eyewitness account. Smothers identified the only two kinds of weapons used in the Runyon Street murders — an AK47 assault rifle and a .45-caliber pistol — court documents show. Davontae named at least four weapons and said he used a Mini-14 rifle, but police found no such casings.

    Altogether, Smothers confessed to killing 15 people from July 2006 to December 2007. He told police he was paid between $5,000 and $15,000 for the jobs.

    On the night of the Runyon Street killings, neighbors said they heard dozens of shots coming from the east-side house. Smothers told police that he and another man, who was never charged, fired through an outside window and then entered the house.

    Davontae lived two blocks away and approached homicide investigators about two hours later. (Would someone who just killed four people walk up to a cop?) Officers questioned him overnight at headquarters, brought him back home the next day, and then picked him up again about two hours later. After Davontae confessed, he was arrested and charged with four counts of first-degree murder.

    At Thumb Correctional Facility in Lapeer, Davontae, Department of Corrections inmate No. 684070, told me he made up the confession, after officers showed him shell casings and digital photos of the crime scene. Officers also talked about the case, let him play on a computer, and fed him food from a Coney Island. They wrote up a confession, which Sanford signed but said he couldn’t read.

    Possibly a horrible injustice

    Because of ongoing court proceedings, Detroit police declined to let me interview Sgt. Michael Russell, the lead investigator who interrogated Davontae.

    Sanford’s mother, Taminko Sanford, 34, told me her son was puffed up after returning from the Police Department.

    “He thought he was a big shot,” she said. “It was like he had gone to Disneyland or Cedar Point. … From Day One, I knew my son was innocent.”

    If Smothers told the truth — and police believed him in other murders — then Davontae’s prison sentence is a horrible injustice that Worthy’s office should do everything possible to end, and Smothers himself should be charged in the Runyon Street killings. As officers of the court, prosecutors are entrusted with ensuring due process — no less than defense attorneys.

    Now it’s up to Judge Sullivan to make sure that happens.

    JEFF GERRITT is a Free Press editorial writer. Contact him at or 313-222-6585.

  148. Taminko Sanford
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Thank You Mark for your support and bringing this article to the front Mr Garrett interviewed Davontae at Lapeer with me and his Lawyer their Thank You for the awesome support that you and Robert has for this case we Return back to court on March 15,2010.I will keep you and Robert and the other supporter’s update i wish i could have a rally DownTown on one of his Court date only if i had people like you and Robert i have submitted application to some other organzations am just waiting on some feedback Robert gave me some good resources to contact

  149. Taminko Sanford
    Posted March 11, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    Dear Supporters’ Please Help Me organized a Free Davontae Rally this story Is getting push under the rug more everyday I Need the Public Help the court date’s are getting more and more push away Davontae Faith is Getting weary and very impatient Why don’t nobody seem’s to care about This little innocent boy i have contact other channel ‘s news station’s and no feedback why?When they put other stories that didn’t even matter Keep This Family in Your Prayers

  150. Taminko Sanford
    Posted March 16, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    Dear Robert,Today was court Ira Todd and the ballistic expert testified today It will be in the Detroit Free Press Tomorrow a new Court Date hae not be issused i will be seeing if i can get more attention to this case starting Tomorrow Morning i will contact the NACCAP immedialately Vicent Smothers has now been charged in the Runyon Street Killing i learned in court today i beleive their only a couple of witnesses left to go before the judge makes his decision

  151. Taminko Sanford
    Posted March 17, 2010 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Dear R obert, Vicent Smothers has not been charged in the Runyon Street Killing The Free Press indicated Today the Ira Todd Testmonity is in their too

  152. Robert
    Posted March 17, 2010 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    From what it said in the news, it sounded like Todd believed Lakari Berry was Smothers’ accomplice in the Runyon Street shootings.

    WWJ radio had reported that Smothers was already charged with 13 counts of first degree homicide. Now I am wondering if that means his known kills are 17 or more.

  153. Taminko Sanford
    Posted March 18, 2010 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Dear Robert,i have heard about this name before i haven’t heard anything Else about him or nothing about him but his name.Smothers has not been Not been charged in the killing yet.Was this story in THE Detroit News to Am waiting on a new court date from the Judge Sullivan i will keep you update on every twist and turn this case takes Davontae say Thank You For Being so Concern And Supportive

  154. Robert
    Posted March 18, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    I guess Lakari Berry couldn’t have been Smothers’ accomplice on the Runyon Street shooting. He was already in custody and had been since the previous shooting he did with Smothers on Gravier Street.

    Ira Todd’s testimony this week really helps Davontae’s case for a new trial. Charges should be filed against his superiors for obstruction among other things.

  155. Robert
    Posted March 18, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Taminko, I think you’ll be interested to read Robert Brignall’s article today on regarding Davontae’s case.

    Here’s the link:

  156. Robert
    Posted March 29, 2010 at 7:42 pm | Permalink



    The Free Press has obtained a police report stemming from an incident in which the attorney for the family of slain exotic dancer Tamara Greene alleged he was threatened by a city attorney.

    Attorney Norman Yatooma filed the police report on Jan. 30, claiming assistant Detroit city attorney John Schapka threatened him.

    Schapka has denied making any threats and apologized to Yatooma in an e-mail saying he may have spoken “too cryptically and failed to communicate my thoughts in a clear fashion.”

    The Bloomfield Township police report indicates that Yatoom’a managing attorney Robert Zawideh informed Schapka that he and Yatooma intended to depose Bernard Kilpatrick, the father of ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. The report indicates Schapka responded if such a deposition took place, “(He’ll) end up face down in an alley with a knife in his back.”

    Zawideh informed Yatooma of the comments and Yatooma went to the police, the report says.

    Yatooma subsequently asked police for extra patrol at his Bloomfield Township home on Feb. 5.

    In the report, Schapka’s e-mail went further to explain: “I certainly did not intend to intimate that I was aware of any threat to you.”

    Schapka said he reviewed the homicide file from Greene’s April 2003 unsolved killing.

    “My clear review of the homicide materials and discussions with others leads me to believe that we are dealing with a killer more calculating than most,” he wrote. “A killer with a little less regard for the lives of others. I cannot imagine this individual wishes to be located or identified. Yet, our collective efforts in this civil matter may do just that.”

    Schapka also wrote in his email: “We should all be circumspect and carefully pursue our discovery, including the depositions of those certain to draw media attention, in the future. I for one do not want to be targeted because the media convinces the killer that I am coming to get him.”

    Schapka concluded: “Again, my apologies for being unclear.”

    Greene’s family alleges in a federal lawsuit that Detroit police and city officials thwarted the investigation into her unsolved April 2003 slaying so her killers wouldn’t be held accountable. Kilpatrick, police officials and lawyers for the mayor and city deny that they interfered.

    Last week Yatooma filed a motion in the lawsuit to have Schapka removed from the case due to the alleged threat.

    The Free Press obtained the police report through the Freedom of Information Act.

  157. Posted March 30, 2010 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Davontae is innocent! Stay informed and help get the truth out. Join us on Facebook and help Free Davontae Sanford!

  158. Robert
    Posted March 30, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    post a link

  159. kjc
    Posted March 30, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Permalink!/group.php?gid=108713425818908&ref=search&sid=589623361.2904945088..1

  160. Free Davontae
    Posted March 31, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, kjc.

  161. Taminko Sanford
    Posted March 31, 2010 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    Dear Robert,my computer been down WWJ 950 AM air the story last Friday About Davontae he suppose to go to court on April 7 I seen them articles tonight that are awesome i believe Kim McGaines has a couple more witness to call then am going to hold a Press Confernence with 2,4, and 7 i will keep you update on them dates it’s been a long stressful road but i keep praying davontae been getting so weak he havent been eating down here he lose 20 pds he getting tired of been lock up for a crime he didnt do he told me nobody cares

  162. Robert
    Posted April 1, 2010 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Taminko, does Davontae have access to the Internet. What are his conditions like?

  163. Taminko Sanford
    Posted April 1, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Dear Robert,no Davontae doesn’t have access to a computer he now in the Wanye County Jail in Detroit he can have visit’s on Thursday’s only!! The Jail is so Nasty Davontae only eat fruit’s and drink’s liquards he has lost 20pds in Two Week’s Tuesday he pass out for about 3-4 minutes and got a Big knot on his head he told me what happen when he called Tuesday am Going to see him Today Their no schooling in there he be’s in different mood’s his faith is getting weary and his hope is get weak

  164. Posted April 1, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    I’m pretty sure this is an April fools joke; seemed right up your alley:

    Posted April 11, 2010 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    Dear Robert today i received some Bad New’s about Davontae yesterday the Jail Cell closed on his Head and Neck he had to geT Comestic Surgery to rea ttached his ear i was allowed to see him for about 35 minutes he’s in alot of pain I WANT ANSWERS!!!Since it’s Sunday i will contact everybody Tomorrow i will keep you update on this issuse he need over 60 stiches

  166. Posted April 11, 2010 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    Oh my god, Taminko. I’m so sorry to hear about this new development. I didn’t think that things could get much worse for you and your family.

    Posted April 12, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    Thank You Mark i feel the same way do to the doctor’s gave my Grandma 30 Day’s to live last week then this happen’s to Davontae this week i will countinue to keep my faith in God and will keep praying and asking Everybody to praying For Us The Sanford Family that what Satan trying to make Bad Issuse’s For Us are God makes these to become Beautiful One’s and to Strength this Family Thank’s for your support and Thank’s to All The Supporter’s

    Posted April 12, 2010 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    I will keep Everybody update on his recovery and on his Court Date April 21,2010 If he’s out the Hospitial by Thursday i can go to the Jail and visit him On his Visit day

  169. Robert
    Posted April 12, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    Taminko, did Davontae tell you how it happened?

    Posted April 12, 2010 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    Yes he did neglect on they part they was closing the cell’s and didn’t even look to see if all the inmates was in the cell’s they put in the bullpen for about 15 or 29 minutes before the nurse came then took him to the hospital before they took him the one of the guard was laughing at him because he was crying because of the pain It happen saturday i found out about it Sunday i have contact the Media and the Newspaper hopefully they will run a story on it am so tired of the system first of all he still shouldn;t be locked up now he almost lost his a ear I really want to ask my question’s but i was on a supervised visit i just can’t see how this happen i been trying to put the puzzle together all day and some piece’s are missing too me i will get to the bottom of this i promise

  171. Billy
    Posted April 12, 2010 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    stay strong! It’s frustrating, but I hope it all works out for the good in the end. Just remember…your faith will carry you. Even if the real criminals go free, and the jailers and tormentors go unpunished on this earth…our time here is but a wink of an eye, compared to the eternity that they will spend in hell. Love is all around you , even when you can’t see or feel it.

  172. Robert
    Posted April 13, 2010 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    I wouldn’t poke around too much into it, Tominko. Right now it is all about just getting Davontae exonerated and freed. You’ll want to do that while avoiding being confrontational. These guys can do pretty much anything they want to as long as those investigating are so far behind the curve.

    I don’t expect Smothers will make it alive to his trials. The authorities, for the most part, are so stupified by all this I have little hope that they’ll ever get any sort of handle on things.

    What I’m saying is, the bad guys are gonna win here one way or the other, and you don’t want to get in their way or too much on their bad side in the mean time. Right now, you and McGinnes should be making any assurances to them that Davontae’s safety and freedom are your only concerns. Their business is their business, and you have no interest in messing with it, or them.

  173. Posted April 13, 2010 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    For up-to-date reports on how Davontae is doing and what is happening in his case, go to the FREE DAVONTAE Facebook page.

    Posted April 15, 2010 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    Dear Billy Thank You For Your support and i do believe Faith goes along way Faith without work’s are dead Keep This Family in your Prayers i will Keep You undate on the Case Thank’s Again

    Posted April 15, 2010 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Dear Robert,You are right i was just upset at the time but i have give it to God to keep him safe and ask God to let no Weapon Formed Against him Shall Prosper And make his ememies his FoolStool’s and to let no more Hurt,Harm or Danger comes he’s way And praying for he to be released in the Name OF JESUS and praying for our Next Court Date April 21 Am going to visit him Today Thank’s Again Robert for Your Support,and Concern’s

  176. EOS
    Posted April 15, 2010 at 7:56 am | Permalink

  177. Taminko Sanford
    Posted April 25, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Davontae court date is May 4,2010 he lost his Grandmother Mary April 19,2010 Please keep this Family In Your Prayer’s

  178. Robert
    Posted April 26, 2010 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Thank you, Taminko. I assume the April 21st court date was postponed then. Was that because of Davontae’s hospitalization?

  179. Taminko Sanford
    Posted April 28, 2010 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Thank’s To Everyone For Your Support-Davontae Sanford Family

  180. Robert
    Posted April 29, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Investigator Ira Todd is turning out to be much more helpful than I expected him to be. He really seems to be willing to stick his neck out to correct what has been done to Davontae. That’s a nice change of pace from what you would usually see in situations like these.

  181. Robert
    Posted May 1, 2010 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    Article concerning the mysterious and elusive Ernest Davis:

  182. Taminko Sanford
    Posted May 3, 2010 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    Yes Robert you are right we go to Court Tomoorrow i will be Posting the Detail’s up soon as i get out of Court Tommorrow Am asking All The Supporter’s To Pray for Even The Ones that not Supporters to Pray For Us!!!!

  183. Robert
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Yes, Taminko, please do report back to us here regarding Davontae’s court hearing this morning. I hope all goes well.

  184. Taminko Sanford
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    They PostPoned it until May 13,2010 Gerald Williams were their Today he will Testify May 13,2010 i will be trying to hold some News C0nference’s This Week it’s seem like they are layed back and losing interested in the Case it show Today!!!I will let you and other’s know when i do the New’s Conference We Need Help!!!

  185. Taminko Sanford
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Davontae was vert upset when the postponed his court date he feel’s like who Care?

  186. Robert
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Did they give a reason for postponing the court hearing again?

  187. Taminko Sanford
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Dear Robert,no they didn’t i believe they are giving Gerald Williams time to go over his paper work CHANNEL 2 just contact me back so i will keep you update when they call me back

  188. Taminko Sanford
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    Please Keep Davontae In Your Prayer’s!!!!!!!

  189. Andy
    Posted May 5, 2010 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    Hi Mark. I just moved to Ypsilanti. What insurance company do you personally use for renters or homeowners insurance? I visit your site frequently, but never read whether you live in a house, apartment, etc. Or list off some local companies since I already have companies like All-State and LA Insurance on my list to get quotes from. Thanks.


  190. Robert
    Posted May 5, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Hi Mark. I just moved to Ypsilanti. What is your social security number? I visit your site frequently, but have never read what your credit card numbers are, etc. Please list. Thanks.


  191. Larry Seven Larry
    Posted May 6, 2010 at 10:07 am | Permalink


    I am a well-endowed Italian playboy, new to Ypsilanti, and I would like an introduction to your wife. If you could assist in this manner, I would very much – how you say – be appreciating it.

  192. Regular Joe
    Posted May 6, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Hi Mark. I just moved to Ypsilanti and have just bought a new house and new car. Where should I hide the extra keys in case I get locked out? Any good suggestions? Thanks.


  193. Milt Edwards
    Posted May 6, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Permalink


    I’ve just relocated to Ypsilanti after losing my penis and one ball to a piece of farming machinery, and I was wondering if 1) you might be a genetic match and 2) if you are a registered organ donor.

  194. Taminko Sanford
    Posted May 10, 2010 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Keep Davontae in your Prayer’s and the Truth Shall Set Him Free!!!!

  195. Robert
    Posted May 10, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Hopefully, Taminko, Davontae’s hearing this Thursday isn’t postponed as it has been so many times already.

    Are Sgt. Russell and Sgt. Carlisle going to be called to testify at any point? I might like to sit in on those hearings. It would be interesting to hear them describe the thinking that went into their initial investigation.

  196. Taminko Sanford
    Posted May 17, 2010 at 8:27 pm | Permalink


  197. Robert
    Posted May 18, 2010 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    According to the Free Davontae Sanford web page, there has been a Detroit area media blackout of the following story:

  198. Edward
    Posted May 18, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    What do you mean by “media blackout”? Isn’t the story in the Free Press?

  199. Robert
    Posted May 18, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    No, Edward, I don’t think it is in the Free Press or even on their web page. It appears that only WWJ Radio posted it on their web page. None of the TV stations in Detroit gave it any attention either apparently…not even on their web sites. It was almost completely blacked out in Detroit even though it got some attention in several other nearby media markets.

  200. Posted May 18, 2010 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    I don’t feel qualified to write it, but I really would like to post something on my front page about this, Robert, if you’ve got the time and interest to pull something together.

  201. Robert
    Posted May 19, 2010 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Edward, it was just this most recent testimony which was practically blacked out of the Detroit media. I didn’t mean to suggest nobody had ever covered any previous hearings. It was just this most recent one which was ignored.

  202. Robert
    Posted May 19, 2010 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    We could title the thread “Brother Smothers and Sanford’s son”

  203. Posted May 20, 2010 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    You can keep up on the latest developments in the Davontae Sanford case at the Free Davontae Sanford facebook page:


  204. Posted June 7, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Admitted Detroit hit man pleads guilty in 8 killings, including cop’s wife

  205. Posted June 7, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    That’s great news. What does it mean for Davontae, though? Will they let him out immediately?

  206. Robert
    Posted June 8, 2010 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    It’s actually not such great news. The prosecutors didn’t cut the deal to save anybody any money or save any victims and grief. They cut the deal to keep a trial from going through and possible exposing the identities of Smothers’ clients.

  207. Robert
    Posted June 9, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, Mark. No, the prosecutors are still refusing to charge Smothers for the Runton Street murders. They don’t want their frame-up job on Sanford to be examined.

    They cut Smothers such a generous deal in order to supress the details a trial would bring out, like who recruited Smothers, who managed him, and who ordered the killings.

    As the Detroit News reported today:

    “Worthy’s spokeswoman, Assistant Prosecutor Maria Miller, said there is no deal for Smothers to cooperate in providing names or testimony against those who hired him to kill.”

    “There is no promise for cooperation,” Miller said.

  208. Free Davontae
    Posted July 14, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    From The Detroit News:
    “Smothers said the murders on Runyon were ordered by a man named “Lano” over a drug dispute and that he was helped by a man named Ernest Davis. Smothers told police he instructed Davis to stash the murder weapon, a .45-caliber handgun, in his cousin’s house on Promenade Street. Police found the pistol there, according to court records.”

    So the police and prosecutors have known for more than two years now who carried out the Runyon Street shootings and why. Yet they have done everything in their power to cover up those details and the frame-up of Davontae Sanford for those murders.

    You can follow the story on Twitter at the following link:

  209. Kelso
    Posted August 16, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    What does it mean to have a “discolored Kiwi”? I may be interested.

  210. Bob
    Posted October 17, 2010 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Nothing controversial, just a slice of pure-pop genius from ex-NRBQ veterans Joey and Johnny Spampinato’s new cd “Pie In The Sky.” As good as the Beatles to my ears. If you missed them in Ann Arbor a few weeks ago, you missed the show of the year. Enjoy.

  211. tummbed
    Posted February 21, 2011 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Really cool montage of Kill Bill scenes and scenes from the films that influenced them.

  212. Arfie
    Posted February 23, 2011 at 1:55 am | Permalink

    Michele Bachmann on how Glenn Beck can help solve the nation’s budget woes:

    “We need to simply tell people the facts, like Glenn Beck, with that chalkboard, that man can explain anything. I think if we give Glenn Beck the numbers, he can solve this.”

  213. T Thutto
    Posted June 28, 2011 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    I learned a new phrase today: “aerosolized pork brains”

    Apparently you shouldn’t breath them.

  214. harl
    Posted December 11, 2012 at 12:29 am | Permalink

    If I were to send you a hat, Mark Maynard, would you wear it?

3 Trackbacks

  1. By Arrrr Cat on April 13, 2010 at 11:07 am

    I have mild pain in my breasts and I never want it to stop.

  2. By Fred on April 26, 2010 at 5:51 am

    Does anyone else here have a felony criminal record?

  3. By Timothy Wright on August 16, 2010 at 11:13 am

    how cum none of you want to fuck my wife Marni Wright? is it cause she is known to have a discolored Kiwi or is it cause of her teeth

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