The strange case of Davontae Sanford

We haven’t seen her here on the site for the better part of a year, but, for a quite a while, we were getting regular updates from a woman by the name of Taminko Sanford on the fate of her son, Davontae, a prisoner in the Michigan correctional system. Davontae, who was found guilty of murdering four people on Runyon Street in Detroit at the age of 14, as you might recall, was serving a 37 to 90 year sentence. The last time she wrote, if I remember correctly, it was to let us know that Davontae had lost the use of one of his ears, after having his head caught in his cell door. I’d wanted to write about Davontae’s case for quite a while now, but, given how confusing it is (it touches on everything from drug cartels and hit men to police corruption and prosecutorial misconduct), I never felt up to the task. Fortunately, though, Diane Bukowski at Voice of Detroit has taken a shot at it. Following are several clips from her article, which I think should give you some sense as to how complicated this case has become.

Here’s how it begins…

41787_108713425818908_7238_nDavontae Sanford is now 18. He has spent the last four years of his short life in adult prisons, convicted of murdering four people on Runyon Street on Detroit’s east side on Sept. 15, 2007, when he was 14. He is 5’6,’’ slightly-built, blind in one eye, and “developmentally disabled.”

Shortly after Davontae was sentenced to 37 to 90 years in prison in 2008, Vincent Smothers, now 28, of Shelby Township, confessed to the Detroit police on videotape that he and a different man committed the murders as part of a series of drug-related hits. Highly placed members of the police department have testified they believe Davontae is innocent, including a former chief of homicide who says Davontae was with him at the time of the murders….

For some reason, though, the Smothers confession hasn’t been enough to free Davontae. This, of course, may have to do with the fact that Smothers now contends that his confessions were coerced. (Smothers, who claimed to have been a hit man for a drug cartel, is presently serving 50 to 100 years on nine counts of second-degree murder and several counts of assault with the intent to commit murder.) As for coerced statements, here’s a little more from Bukowski’s article:

…(Defense attorney Kim) McGinnis said that during (Davontae’s) questioning by police, neither his mother nor an attorney was present. Davontae signed and initialed a typewritten document drawn up by a detective, despite being blind in one eye, and according to McGinnis, reading at a third-grade level. There is no videotaped record of the confession except one in which the detective reads the confession back to him…

McGinnis said, “Davontae saw the police lights after the killings were discovered around the corner from his house, and walked up to the police to find out what was going on. They told him, ‘You know what’s going on,’ and took him downtown. Twenty hours later, he signed a confession which contained only the details that the police already knew at the time.”

In his confession Davontae claimed he committed the killings with a different weapon than the one used in the killings, McGinnis said. Ballistics evidence, delayed due to the shutdown of the Detroit police crime lab two years ago, is still to be introduced in upcoming evidentiary hearings.

“Smothers gave a confession that was very detailed and clear and implicated another man, Edward Davis,” McGinnis said. “The things he says he did are what the police say Davontae did. The woman in the back room who survived said the killer talked to her in a soft voice that was sounded 30-35 years old, but later changed her testimony to say it was an adolescent voice. In his confession, Smothers admitted to going back to speak to her”…

Now, it would seem, prosecutors are trying to place Davontae at the scene of the crime with Smothers. But, according to Detroit’s retired chief of homicide, Commander William Rice, this couldn’t have been the case, as Devontae was with him at the time of the murder. (Rice was then dating Davontae’s great-aunt, Cheryl Sanford.) Of course, cell tower records, we’re told, put Rice thirty miles away, in Mt. Clemens, at the time of the murder. So, I’m not sure where that leaves us.

And, then there’s the matter of the whistleblower case filed against the Kilpatrick administration by Detroit Police Department officer Ira Todd, who claims to have been demoted over his pursuit of the truth in this case. Here, again, is Bukowski:

…Detroit Police Department investigators Gerald Williams and Ira Todd, who helped take Smothers’ confession, have testified that Smothers admitted to the Runyon Street killings and stated that Davontae was not involved. Todd, who was also a member of the Violent Crimes Task Force, has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against Detroit’s former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

His lawsuit, filed by attorney Michael Stefani, says, “During the continuing investigation, it was determined that Smothers was a killer for hire for a notorious Detroit drug gang that regularly contracted for the murders of members of rival drug gangs as well as dissident members of their own organizations.”

In the lawsuit, Todd claims he was removed from the Task force, demoted and otherwise mistreated because his investigation into the Smothers’ killings led him to Smothers’ alleged accomplice, Ernest Davis, and to Davis’ cousin James Davis of Kentucky. Todd said James Davis claimed to have a “business relationship” with Kilpatrick, and that when he reported that, his investigation was shut down and he was transferred…

And then there’s the fact that Smothers was, not too long ago, found to be in possession of a cell phone, which, as you might imagine, is kind of difficult to do in prison without friends on the inside. Davontae’s mother, among others, think that this proves that Smothers is somehow connected to law enforcement officials. As Taminko points out:

…One of the people Smothers confessed to killing was Rose Cobb, wife of Detroit police sergeant David Cobb. Smothers said Cobb hired her to kill his wife outside a CVS pharmacy on E. Jefferson near their home, as she waited in the car while her husband was in the store.

Although the police department arrested Cobb, (Prosecutor Kym) Worthy never charged him in the murder. Cobb was later found hanging from a tree, an apparent suicide…

Oh, and, then, just a couple of weeks ago, Russell Marcilis Sr., the 67-year-old father of Detroit homicide detective LaTonya Brooks, who worked with Ira Todd on the Smothers case, was murdered at his home in a firebombing attack.

So, what do you make of all that?

In a city where something like 8 out of 10 murders go unsolved, I doubt we’ll ever really know.

[If you like, you can join the Free Davontae movement on Facebook.]

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  1. Kim
    Posted January 16, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    How is it that I haven’t heard of this case? It seems like it would be everywhere in the local press. Oh, that’s right.

  2. Jon
    Posted January 16, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    Do you think if 300 white people were killed in this city every year, they wouldn’t send in the 82nd Airborne?

  3. Posted January 16, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    Funny you should say that, Jon. I’m watching season five of the Wire right now. The plan for tonight is to watch episode 8. Brilliant fucking show. And, yes, it does seem like this should be front page news somewhere.

  4. Posted January 16, 2011 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

    The Wire is in my Netflix queue. The one detective (McNulty?) is f’in hot. I gotta watch me that show. I heard that one season focuses on the school system so I’d really like to see that.

  5. Posted January 17, 2011 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have threadjacked like that. I am curious about this kid b/c it says he was blind in one eye…I wonder if he was on our VI caseload at some time….
    This case stinks to high heaven…and yeah, if he was white, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.

  6. Christine M
    Posted January 17, 2011 at 2:15 am | Permalink

    Thank you for writing this Mark. I think of him sometimes and worry about him. I want to help. It’s so super sad. It’s just awful.

    If the kid is developmentally dependent – and they don’t really say how much, there’s just no way he could do this.

    Patti, I’m so glad you are a teacher. If nothing else we can hopefully improve the world through education. My sister worked in the prison system for many years and always felt if there was anyway to prevent so many people from being locked up it was through education. I try to put my hope there, it’s better then feeling helpless.

  7. louie
    Posted January 17, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think Smothers’ possessing a cell phone in any way implicates a tie to law enforcement, or “friends on the inside” as the article suggests. My information comes from a news article ( and not personal experience, so I may, of course, be wrong…

  8. T Timmons
    Posted January 17, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    Good point about the cell phone.

    Here’s a link to an older article that ran in the FreePress.

    An excerpt:

    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.

  9. Robert
    Posted January 17, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Louie, actually Smothers was not in a prison when the cell phone was snuck in to him. He was in the Wayne County Jail awaiting his trial which is a very different situation. The only people who had contact with him in there were his attorney and employees of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department and Prosecutor’s office. His attorney would have gone through security search upon entering the building. Cell phones are not permitted.

  10. E. Smyth
    Posted January 17, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    So the retired head of the homicide unit lied to authorities, telling them that he was with Davontae, in that neighborhood, at the time of the killings, but cell records show that he was at least thirty miles away at the time, is that right? i don’t have a lot of faith in the Detroit police, but I didn’t think they were in the business of offering bullshit alibis to everyone they knew.

  11. Posted January 18, 2011 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    To Mark Maynard, thanks for the post on behalf of Davontae and his family as well as The Voice of Detroit. I’d been looking for the names of the people who were killed and I see one of your readers found the relevant article–that’s very helpful to my ongoing pursuit of the case. Regarding the cell tower testimony, I specifically asked the Prosecutor’s Office why they haven’t charged William Rice with perjury if they think he lied–they wouldn’t comment. Cell tower testimony is not always dependable and whether this “expert” has sufficient training is open to question. The prosecutor’s office AND the judge seem bound and determined to defend their original charges and conviction of Davontae, when his confession should have been thrown out on the face of it, since he had neither his mother nor an attorney present. They are throwing every roadblock they can in the way of Vincent Smothers testifying in Davontae’s case; he is the most important witness and has already confessed on videotape and named his accomplice. THEY could be subject to obstruction of justice and perjury charges if the whole sordid story comes out; one of Worthy’s assistant prosecutors, Karen Plants, and a judge Mary Waterstone are being tried on suborning perjury charges in another case; Worthy herself faces charges before the attorney grievance commission related to that case. Her office is reckless and determined to mount up convictions whether or not the defendants are guilty. I had first-hand experience with that when they tried to jail ME for 10 years for doing my job as a reporter taking photos at a safe distance from the scene of a fatal state trooper chase. This was nothing but retaliation for the 10 years of stories I had done for The Michigan Citizen on killings by police and Worthy’s failure to prosecute them, including a case where an off-duty cop shot a 16-year-old in the back. Go to my legal defense website at to see details on that case. Again, thank you, Mark, for spreading coverage of Davontae’s case. It should indeed be national news.

  12. Edward
    Posted January 19, 2011 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Thanks for your comments, Diane. We had a case like that in Ypsi a few years ago. The man’s name was David Ware, and he was shot in the back by police three times and killed. Nothing happened to the officer. You can read all about it if you search this site for “David Ware.”

  13. Robert
    Posted January 20, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    I second Edward, Diane, and thank you for your comments here. More importantly, thank you for the article you wrote regarding Davontae’s case for the Voice of Detroit.

    E. Smyth, your statement is not quite right. William Rice said he was at Davontae’s aunt’s house on the evening in question and that Davontae was there too, playing on a computer in another room. He was relatively confident that this was the circumstance up until the time the murders took place over on Runyon Street. It appears his recollection may be off somewhat but certainly still within the range of what could be reasonably expected under the specific circumstances.

    Davontae is said to have “confessed” to the crime. However this so called confession is nothing more than a signature at the bottom of a typewritten statement which Davontae not only could not have written, but could not have even read. The “confession” was typed up by Sgt. Mike Russell and then this 14 year old, learning disabled kid was intimidated into signing it. Russell did not allow him the presence of an attorney or even a family member while he did this. Russell chose to turn off the video and audio recorder during his conversations with Davontae. The reasons for all this are pretty obvious to anybody with an ounce of sense.

  14. Robert
    Posted January 21, 2011 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Maybe we can get Davontae’s mom Taminko to give us an update on the latest status of the case.

  15. Free Davontae
    Posted January 23, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    Bob Slameka, the attorney assigned to Davontae’s defense case originally, has been reprimanded by the state for misconduct in cases involving more than 16 of his clients.

    In Davontae’s case, his mother was charged $10,000 and still Slameka provided no defense for him. Davontae’s alibi was never presented. Eyewitnesses, whose testimony would have shown that Davontae was not one of the two men who carried out the murders, were never called. Slameka didn’t do one thing to challenge the prosecutions very weak case.

    Davontae’s mother, Taminko said, “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.”

  16. Free Davontae
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    On September 17, 2007, Vincent Smothers (aka “Vito”) and Ernest Anthony Davis (aka “Nemo”) entered a house in the 19700 block of Runyon Street in Detroit. They were there to carry out a contract hit ordered by a man who goes by the nickname “Lano.”

    It is believed that the target was Michael Robinson, the 33 year old male resident of the home on Runyon Street. Also in the house that evening, however, were five other individuals, including a seven yea…r old child.

    Five of the six people there were shot execution style – four of which died. Only the seven year old boy was left without any physical harm, though the emotional and psychological trauma of that day will certainly haunt him for the rest of his life.

    These are the victims who were taken so senselessly:

    Michael Robinson, Sr. (33) deceased
    D’Angelo McNoriell (early 20s) deceased
    Brian Dixon (early 20s) deceased
    Nicole Chapman (25) deceased
    Valerie Glover (30) critically wounded but survived
    Michael Robinson, Jr. (7) remained physically unharmed

    Authorities have labeled these murders as “drug killings” and in doing so characterized these victims as being in some sense deserving. Yet this explanation of motive is based on the word of a cold blooded mass murderer, and contradicts evidence, circumstance, and common sense.

    Even by the murderer’s account, there is no question that five of these victims were nothing more than innocent bystanders. Even the individual who is believed to be the target, Mr. Robinson, was by all accounts a decent man and a good neighbor.

    Smothers was nothing more than a trigger man – a paid killer. His motive was the money he received to carry out this heinous act. But what was the motive of the man who hired him? “Lano” was never investigated by police, and walks free to this day, as does Smothers’ Runyon Street accomplice Ernest Wilbur Davis.

  17. Posted January 24, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Sure will help if the new governor and A.G. didn’t follow their predecessors in pretending that Detroit is in Ohio, and that they have no obligation to ensure safety of its residents.

  18. Robert
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if we can get Davontae’s mom and/or attorney to give us here regular updates on his case.

    I also wonder if the Innocence Project at the University of Michigan has noticed the case.

  19. Kim
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    It’s a much different situation, but I thought that people might find it interesting to know that a boy, aged 11, is facing life in prison in Pennsylvania for murder.

  20. Posted January 26, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Detroit Police Homicide Investigator Ira Todd was the officer in charge of the investigation of Vincent Smothers. The investigation revealed connections to James W. Davis of Lexington, Kentucky, brother of Smothers accomplice Ernest Davis and a suspected drug trafficer who bragged about ties to then Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Police in Lexington repeatedly expressed concern for Todd’s safety in investigating Davis. An internal affairs officer told him, “Be careful; Davis surrounds himself with police officers and is well-insulated.”

    When Todd reported to his superiors the involvement of Ernest and James Davis in the contract murders carried out by Smothers, he was ordered to take his vacation leave early. Told by a superior, “This thing is bigger than you. Trust me,” he was then taken off the case and ordered to turn over all copies of any reports regarding it. He was removed from the Violent Crimes Task Force, assigned to a precinct, and ordered not to have any further contact with investigators from other police departments regarding the case.

    Todd has now filed a whistle-blower’s lawsuit against the city, the mayor, and his superiors in the department. However, that case has been strangely quiet for many months.

    Todd has testified to the fact that, in the course of the investigation, no connection was found between Davontae Sanford and Vincent Smothers. Todd has also said that the confession which Davontae signed regarding the Runyon Street murders is unreliable.

  21. Free Davontae
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Once again the court has cancelled Davontae’s hearing and stalled the case. Last week the excuse was that the judges docket was full. This week the excuse is that the prosecutor is ill.

  22. Judy Blume
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    This has gone on long enough. Have we no empathy for the ones who lost people in all of this? There seems to be no justice for any of the parties involved. Someone may have been Vincent Smothers visited the house on the Friday prior to the hit. Cased it out, he seen that it was only the guy there and three other people. He left immediately. On Sunday he drove pass the house, people were sitting on the porch. Two other individuals walked down the street past the house and back up the street. That was around 7 pm. This “Lano” knows the resident of the house on Runyon, very closely. He knows everything. So apparently he’s around constantly. Monday Night Football, the resident does his regular routine of having friends over to watch the game. Shots ring out and leaves four people dead inside. The things Vincent said he took from this house is correct. When he approximates, he’s dead on the amount. He was there and is now playing cat and mouse with the emotions of all the families involved including Davontae’s. One thing I don’t get is the confession. If Detective Russell read the confession back to him, why would he still agree to sign it. Why would one person want to fit in to the point of confessing to a murder? If you want to fit in in Detroit, you never do such a thing! Another thing I’ve read says he was over his aunt’s house around the time of the murders and then another says he was at home with his mom. I’m intriqued with this case. I hope they find all involved the truth will come out.

  23. Nerdly the Owl
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Why do people confess to crimes?

    There was a study done last year. Here’s how it was covered by the New York Times (

    Eddie Lowery lost 10 years of his life for a crime he did not commit. There was no physical evidence at his trial for rape, but one overwhelming factor put him away: he confessed.

    At trial, the jury heard details that prosecutors insisted only the rapist could have known, including the fact that the rapist hit the 75-year-old victim in the head with the handle of a silver table knife he found in the house. DNA evidence would later show that another man committed the crime. But that vindication would come only years after Mr. Lowery had served his sentence and was paroled in 1991.

    “I beat myself up a lot” about having confessed, Mr. Lowery said in a recent interview. “I thought I was the only dummy who did that.”

    But more than 40 others have given confessions since 1976 that DNA evidence later showed were false, according torecords compiled by Brandon L. Garrett, a professor at theUniversity of Virginia School of Law. Experts have long known that some kinds of people — including the mentally impaired, the mentally ill, the young and the easily led — are the likeliest to be induced to confess. There are also people like Mr. Lowery, who says he was just pressed beyond endurance by persistent interrogators.

  24. Thomas Paine
    Posted January 28, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Judy Blume, where did you get your information about Smothers casing the house, Lano, etc?

  25. Robert
    Posted January 29, 2011 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    @Thomas Paine: What Judy Blume said is pretty much what everyone in the neighborhood on and around Runyon Street have been saying since day one. It is also consistent with what the Feds have said off the record. There were many others involved and the motive wasn’t robbery or a drug hit.

  26. Robert
    Posted February 3, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Maybe I should invite Mel Ayton to town and I can give him the grand tour of the Smothers contract murders case. From reading Mel’s books I can tell he has absolutely no comprehension of organized crime, how it works, its capabilities, and the clues to spotting its handiwork. I think we could help him out with that.

  27. Ms. Pacman's Lover
    Posted February 3, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    I feel so bad for this kid. It makes me want to cry…I couldn’t even imagine a nightmare like this.

  28. Posted February 4, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Several videos linked at the Free Davontae Youtube page.

  29. Posted February 15, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    Calling All Filmmakers!

    Free Davontae Documentary Competition

    Check out the Free Davontae Sanford facebook page if you think you might be interested in viewing, judging, or making a film.

    Anyone who has prizes they can donate which we can present to the winners please contact us also.

  30. Free Davontae
    Posted March 2, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Permalink


    A young man who claims he lied when he admitted killing four people in a drug house in 2007 wants to prove his innocence by having a judge compel testimony from a Detroit hit man already in prison for eight murders.

    Davontae Sanford believes he would be cleared of any role in the so-called Runyon Street murders if Vincent Smothers testified under a grant of limited immunity.

    Sanford, 18, has been trying to persuade Judge Brian Sullivan to throw out his guilty plea to four murders in Detroit. He says he was lying and simply trying to please police when he was just 14 years old.

    Smothers, 29, subsequently told police that he was responsible for the Runyon Street killings but has never been charged. He pleaded guilty last year to eight other homicides and is serving 52 years in prison.

    Smothers “would testify that he did not know Davontae in September of 2007. And that he had no family, gang or any other connection to Davontae,” Sanford’s lawyer, Kim McGinnis, said in a recent court filing.

    “Direct testimony from the actual perpetrator is essential for Davontae to demonstrate conclusively his actual innocence,” she said.

    McGinnis wants the judge to take an extraordinary step: Tell prosecutors that Smothers’ words would not be used against him if he testified. Sullivan will hold a hearing Friday, one of many over the past two years.

    The Wayne County prosecutor’s office opposes the immunity request. Despite Smothers’ confession to police, it has not backed away from Sanford’s guilty plea to second-degree murder.

    It’s possible that Sanford didn’t shoot anybody on Runyon Street, but Smothers would be committing perjury if he testified that Sanford was not present, assistant prosecutor Thomas Chambers said.

    Sanford isn’t eligible for parole until 2046 when he is 53.

  31. judy blume
    Posted May 3, 2011 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Just a very close observer here. I want justice to have her eyes covered and quit peeking from behind the blindfold. If ever there was a case so despicable as this, I would love to read all about it. Now this new information is that the boy’s father, lied and then tried to take back his statement. WTH is going on here? I’m totally confused except for the parts I’ve already mentioned. My belief and firm at that is, Smothers got there too late and the young men, who plotted this carried it out. So Smothers got paid for a hit he was supposed to do.

  32. Free Davontae
    Posted May 4, 2011 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Where did you get the story about the boy’s father lying, Judy?

    I think you might be referring to former police commander William Rice who has testified that Davontae was in his aunt’s house at the time of the shootings. The Prosecutors have gone to great lengths to attack and discredit Rice, suggesting he lied on the stand. However, it appears much more likely that Rice’s memory of exact times might be several minutes off.

    The prosecutors and police have known at least as far back at April of 2007 that the Runyon Street murders were a contract hit carried out by Vincent Smothers and Ernest Anthony Davis under the direction of a man with the street name “Lano.” From day one witnesses described two men matching Smothers’ and Davis’ descriptions carrying out the shootings.

  33. Posted May 19, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    Things have taken a strange turn as of late on the Free Davontae Sanford facebook group page.

    An individual has been posting comments using a recently created “Vincent Smothers” facebook profile page. The page appears to be legitimate at least in that it includes photos only someone connected with Smothers would posses. The profile is “friends” with several known real-life friends and associates of Vincent Smothers himself.

    The profile appears to have been created with the approval of Smothers or someone close to him. The comments left by this person however suggest it is not Smothers himself but a less-informed “homie” of his.

  34. Posted May 23, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Permalink


    Davontae Sanford is 18 and in prison. He was 14 when he confessed to shooting and killing four people in a drug house, but now Davontae says he confessed in order to please police.

    Vincent Smothers is a professional hit man already convicted of eight murders. He now says that he killed the four victims Sanford took the rap for. There doesn’t appear to be any reason for Smothers to lie about it: the hit man is not known for his compassion toward others. Smothers even waived his attorney-client privilege with former attorney Gabi Silver so Silver could testify on Davontae Sanford’s behalf, and say under penalty of perjury that Smothers told her he was responsible for the killings, and that Sanford didn’t help him.

    Prosecutors, however, are trying to block Silver’s testimony, which could free a wrongly imprisoned teen, arguing that it would be hearsay. While Sanford’s attorney, Kim McGinnis, says she has done everything in her power to convince Smothers to testify himself, he refuses, leaving it up to her.

    Hearsay is testimony where the witness is asserting facts not within his or her own experience, that have been relayed to the witness by another party. It is considered inherently suspect for evidentiary purposes, since the witness can’t be cross-examined about the facts themselves, but only on what was said to her. There are exceptions to the non-admissibility of hearsay, but each state has its own versions of the rules, and the Michigan prosecutors say Michigan’s exceptions don’t permit Silver to testify. Maybe they are right, though the test—that the proposed statement must have circumstantial guarantees of trustworthiness to be admissible—sure seems to be met by Smothers’ statement. Why would he lie?

    It isn’t as if the evidence against Sanford is overwhelming. He confessed, something 14-year-olds have been known to do when they are really innocent, and a witness testified in his original trail that she recognized his voice. I suspect that prosecutors will be successful in keeping Smothers’ confession out—but why would they want to? A prosecutor’s duty isn’t to win, or keep prisoner’s locked up, but to see that justice is done. It is a victory for a prosecutor every time the system gets it right, and an abject failure every time a guilty defendant goes free…or an innocent defendant goes to jail.

    If the judge is inclined to let Silver testify regarding the hit man’s confession, the prosecution should not object. It serves justice for her to speak, and to let a jury weigh the statement’s reliability and Sanford’s guilt based on Silver’s testimony. For a prosecutor to argue that the rules of evidence technically prohibit a possible route to justice when a teenager’s future is in the balance is a perversion of legal ethics.

    And if the prosecutors believe Silver, who believes Smothers, they shouldn’t even require a trial. They should petition for Davontae Sanford’s release themselves. From the ABA’s Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 3.8, “Special Responsibilities of a Prosecutor”:


    (g) When a prosecutor knows of new, credible and material evidence creating a reasonable likelihood that a convicted defendant did not commit an offense of which the defendant was convicted, the prosecutor shall:

    (1) promptly disclose that evidence to an appropriate court or authority, and

    (2) if the conviction was obtained in the prosecutor’s jurisdiction,

    (i) promptly disclose that evidence to the defendant unless a court authorizes delay, and

    (ii) undertake further investigation, or make reasonable efforts to cause an investigation, to determine whether the defendant was convicted of an offense that the defendant did not commit.

    (h) When a prosecutor knows of clear and convincing evidence establishing that a defendant in the prosecutor’s jurisdiction was convicted of an offense that the defendant did not commit, the prosecutor shall seek to remedy the conviction.

    It is true that Michigan’s Rules don’t include these provisions, but that only means that the prosecutors don’t have a black and white rule requiring them to make sure innocent prisoners are released. All the ABA rule does is articulate what prosecutors are supposed to know anyway: their job , and their ethical duty, is to see that just results are reached by the criminal justice system, and not to argue that you can’t get there from here.

  35. Taminko Sanford
    Posted August 3, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    The Hearing Is Now Over,We Are Now At A Stand Still,Waitin On The Judge Decision To Grant A New trial Or Denied it,am sorry its been a while,but my computer has been broke,Smothers Give His Former Lawyer, Silvers Permission to Testify In His Behalf,But The Judge Denied it,Why?Smothers told her all the details about the case,the confession,the killing,the people that was their and was wasnt their,Wat are They HIding!!!

  36. Taminko Sanford
    Posted August 3, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    If Anyone has Question,concerns Or Even Question Please Be Free To Inbox Me,I Always Check My InBox,I Would Like To Send A Heartfilled Thanks To All The Awesum Support,Especially Mark,Who Been Following The Case Since Day One,My Computer is now fixed,so i will Be BacK On Here Weekly With Updates,Sorry For The Inconvience,God Bless U All!!!!

  37. Posted August 31, 2011 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    The written arguments in Davontae’s appeal are due TODAY!

    In ordering the written arguments, Judge Sullivan said Davontae’s attorney, Kim McGinnis, should explain gunpowder residue police found on Sanford’s clothing and how he knew details of the scene inside the house. Sullivan has also said that… prosecutors should address Smothers’ confession as well as the recovery of a .45-caliber pistol used in the killings.

    Davontae’s attorney, Kim McGinnes, should have and easy time explaining the details Judge Sullivan has indicated are crutial. Davontae knew the positions of the bodies at the murder scene because Sgt. Russell showed him a video of the scene during interrogation. The gunpowder residue was found on some of Davontae’s other clothes which he was not wearing on the night in question. This residue does not connect Davontae to the firearms used in the Runyon Street shooting. Residue is not a ballistics match and it is very common to detect simple residue on the clothing of any teenage boy.

    It won’t be so easy for prosecutors to explain why Vincent Smothers knew where the .45 used in the Runyon Street killings was stashed. Smothers confessed that he and Ernest Anthony Davis had carried out the Runyon Street murders on orders, and afterward had stashed the .45 calibur pistol in a relatives home. The gun was found just where Smothers had said it would be.

    There is no date set for Sullivan’s ruling.

  38. Posted September 18, 2011 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Today marks 4 years that Davontae Sanford has spent locked-up for a crime authorities know he didn’t commit.

    The prosecutors and police have known at least as far back at April of 2007 that the Runyon Street murders were a contract hit carried out by Vincent Smothers and Ernest Anthony Davis under the direction of a man with the street name “Lano.” From day one witnesses described two men matching Smothers’ and Davis’ descriptions carrying out the shootings.

    To this day “Lano” has not been investigated, Ernest Davis has not been arrested, and Vincent Smothers has not been charged for the gruesome quadruple murder they carried out.

  39. Posted October 15, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    Oct. 14, 2011
    by Scotty Reid of Black Talk Radio Network

    A Detroit mother’s trust turned into a nightmare that resulted in her son losing his freedom. The case is so egregious that it is the only thing more egregious than the lack of media coverage about the specifics of the case. When news began to spread that four people were murdered in an alleged crack house on Runyon Street in 2007, then 14-year-old Devontae Sanford was eager to help the police find the killer. It is important to note that Devontae has special needs and his mother, Taminko Sanford, described his mental development to that of an eight or nine year old at the time of his arrest. On the night of the murders, Ms. Sanford told her son not to leave the house when he expressed that he wanted to go down to the scene of the crime. She trusted that he would do as told while she went to the store leaving him with her mother, the boy’s grandmother.

    Unfortunately, Devontae did not heed his mother or grandmother when both told him not to leave the house and as a result he ended up being framed and charged with the murders and would be eventually sentenced to 90 years.

    Do not trust the police.

    By the time Ms. Sanford was able to speak to her son who was taken into custody by police, she found that investigators had coerced Devontae into signing a typed confession to the murders. It is important to note that Devontae could not read or write and therefore could not know what he was signing. The “confession” was filled with errors that did not match physical evidence in the case. In addition to factual errors, Devontae a juvenile at the time did not have a parent or lawyer present during the police interrogation. The Innocence Project says that false confessions come about for a number of reasons but specifically in Devontae’s case, “some false confessions can be explained by the mental state of the confessor”. Devontae Sanford has a documented mental impairment.

    The Innocence Project:

    •Confessions obtained from juveniles are often unreliable – children can be easy to manipulate and are not always fully aware of their situation. Children and adults both are often convinced that that they can “go home” as soon as they admit guilt.

    •People with mental disabilities have often falsely confessed because they are tempted to accommodate and agree with authority figures. Further, many law enforcement interrogators are not given any special training on questioning suspects with mental disabilities. An impaired mental state due to mental illness, drugs or alcohol may also elicit false admissions of guilt.

    In order to reduce false confessions, The Innocence Project recommends that police record all interrogations and confessions. Interestingly in 2006, a year before Devontae was interrogated, Detroit Police officials in 2006 agreed to videotape “all interrogations in crimes that could carry a sentence of life” as part of a settlement with the family of a mentally ill man, Eddie Joe Lloyd, who was tricked by police into confessing to a crime he did not commit.

    According to a post by the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth, Devontae’s “initial interrogations were not recorded and the only portion that was recorded contained footage of a police officer going over a transcript of the earlier interrogation”.

    It appears the Detroit police violated terms of the settlement to “video tape all interrogations”.

    Do not trust lawyers.

    Another issue that has relevancy in Devontae’s case is shady lawyers not interested in going to trial to prove their clients innocence but rather are more interested in coercing clients into pleading guilty. Wayne County appointed public defender Bob Slameka to represent Devontae Sanford. What Ms. Sanford did not know at the time was that the Michigan Supreme Court for misconduct involving 16 clients had reprimanded Bob Slameka. Slameka was such a poor attorney that NPR made him the poster boy for their story on the inability of Detroit’s poor to get adequate representation. In the article, Slameka lists lack of compensation from the county as an excuse for his poor and negligible representation of clients. However, Ms. Sanford said that she scrapped up and paid Slameka $10,000 dollars to represent her son.

    Slameka told NPR “he never leans on his clients to plead guilty”. Even though physical evidence against Devontae was non-existent, Slameka apparently did not want to go to trial and told the Sanford family that if Devontae did not cop a plea, he would be locked up for a very long time according to Ms. Sanford. Devontae was eventually sentenced to 90 years.

    Do not trust the system.

    Despite compelling evidence that Devontae Sanford did not murder four people, he continues to languish behind bars. Despite the confession of Vincent Smothers a self-described Detroit hit man to the murders, despite a retired Detroit Police Commander’s testimony that Devontae was with him when the murders were committed, despite forensic evidence that links Smothers to the crime, the Wayne County Prosecutors office led by Kim Worthy, continues to argue that Devontae is guilty. The trial judge despite a mountain of evidence that Devontae did not commit these crimes, a new trial for Devontae has yet to be ordered by the court.

    Devontae is now represented by Kim McGinnis who appears to be doing all she can to win him a new trial but this a very time consuming process. There are other options to win Devontae’s freedom and one is to have the Governor Rick Snyder to either pardon or commute the sentence. To accomplish this, a petition has been set up on and supporters are asking that people write the influential group Color of Change take up the case and help bring Devontae Sanford home. Davontae’s case and many others serve as a reminder that something is terribly wrong in the law enforcement and criminal justice community and explains why sometimes, the innocent plead guilty to crimes.

  40. Robert
    Posted November 1, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Taminko, can we get an update on Davontae’s case?

  41. Posted November 1, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    Robert, I’ve been meaning to send her an email. I’ll ask for an update.

  42. Robert
    Posted November 11, 2011 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Maybe we can get dragon’s analysis of the case. He’s got a way of cutting through all the sillyness in these sorts of stories and just makin’ plain sense of it.

  43. dragon
    Posted November 11, 2011 at 11:19 am | Permalink


  44. Robert
    Posted November 11, 2011 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    That might be the most useful thing you’ve said yet, dragon.

  45. Robert
    Posted November 11, 2011 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Seriously, though, it would be interesting to see your brainpower applied to deciphering the details of this case for all of us. You’ve shown such aptitude with all the others.

  46. dragon
    Posted November 11, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    You’ve shown such aptitude with all the others.

    Yesterday upon the stair
    I saw a man who wasn’t there
    He wasn’t there again today
    I wish I wish he’d go away

  47. Robert
    Posted November 11, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    I wish you wouldn’t plagiarize. You’re original stuff is so good.

  48. Robert
    Posted November 22, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    Judge Sullivan has been deliberating for almost three months. Because of the simplicity of seeing Davontae’s grounds for appeal, and exoneration really, it’s probably not a good sign that the decision is taking so long. It suggests there is an intensive search for a plausible excuse to deny the appeal.

  49. Posted November 22, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for reopening this thread, Robert, and reminding me that I need to write to Davontae’s mom. Hopefully I’ll have an update for everyone soon.

  50. Robert
    Posted January 11, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    So how long has it been now that Judge Sullivan has been supposedly deliberating on this case? Has it been five months yet?

    Davontae’s case for appeal is just about as strong as they get.

    Cops got an absolutely credible confession from Vincent Smothers, who they’ve identified (and convicted on 8 other murders) as a “Hit Man” and who’s also identified his true accomplice in the shootings as Ernest Anthony Davis.

    Davontae’s alleged confession, in contrast, does not jive with the known facts of the case, and is absurd on the it’s face. It is asserted that a 14 year old learning disabled boy, who is blind in one eye, and who had no previous run-ins with the law, suddenly mounted an assault on a drug house with 4 imaginary friends and an arsonal of weapons.

    Davontae’s appointed attorney in the original case, Robert Slameka, clearly failed his client miserably at the very least, and at worst was party to a deliberate frame-up of this 14 year old kid for the purpose of covering the actions of an active contract killer.

    Homicide detective, Michael Russell, clearly wrote Davontae’s confession himself and simply coerced or tricked the 14 year old into signing it, though he was not even capable of reading it.

    Meanwhile, Ira Todd, the detective attempting to get to the bottom of things, was threatened, taken off the case and demoted.

    It goes on and on. The grounds for appeal in this case are enourmous and absurdly obvious. It seems pretty clear that there is a problem for anybody who seeks to do the right thing in this case. I doubt Judge Sullivan is in a position to do any better.

  51. Posted February 1, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    by Ed White (AP)

    IONIA, Mich. — A Detroit hit man in prison for eight murders said he’s willing to publicly take responsibility for four more to help clear a young man who claims he’s innocent of the slayings and confessed at age 14 only to satisfy police.

    Vincent Smothers’ testimony would be the most crucial evidence yet to try to persuade a judge to throw out Davontae Sanford’s guilty plea and free him from a nearly 40-year prison sentence. In an interview with The Associated Press, Smothers declared: “He’s not guilty. He didn’t do it.”

    Smothers said he never used a 14-year-old accomplice – blind in one eye and learning disabled – to carry out his paid hits, mostly victims tied to Detroit’s drug trade. Ironically, there’s no dispute that Smothers confessed to the so-called Runyon Street slayings when he was captured in 2008, but prosecutors have never charged him and never explained why.

    “I understand what prison life is like; it’s miserable. To be here and be innocent – I don’t know what it’s like,” Smothers said of Sanford, who is now 19. “He’s a kid, and I hate for him to do the kind of time they’re giving him.”

    Told about the AP interview, Sanford’s attorney said she soon would ask a judge to bring Smothers to court.

    “If we can get Mr. Smothers up on the stand, it would be awesome for Davontae,” Kim McGinnis said Monday.

    Smothers, 30, spoke over a phone Saturday at the Michigan Reformatory with a glass window separating him from an AP reporter. He’s 130 miles west of Detroit where he unflinchingly killed people on streets, inside homes and even while he talked on a cell phone. He finally was arrested in an alley in 2008 while holding his daughter.

    Smothers quickly confessed to a series of murders, including the execution-style shooting of a Detroit officer’s estranged wife for $50. He says he was paid $60,000 over a two-year period. He eventually pleaded guilty to eight slayings and was sentenced to at least 52 years in prison.

    Sanford, meanwhile, has been fighting to get out of prison. A Wayne County judge soon is expected to decide whether to throw out his guilty plea to four killings on Runyon Street in 2007. McGinnis has worked to discredit the police investigation. She discovered major holes, including Smothers’ confession and the fact that a gun used in the murders was found at the home of an accomplice who, like Smothers, hasn’t been charged.

    Prosecutors, however, have refused to back away from Sanford’s guilty plea. At times, they have acknowledged that Smothers may have been involved but they won’t rule out a role for the younger man.

    “There is no link between me and him,” Smothers told the AP. “I never knew him.”

    McGinnis has been desperate to get Smothers on the witness stand. He invoked his right against self-incrimination last year but was willing to allow his attorney, Gabi Silver, to testify about what he told her about Runyon Street. The prosecutor, however, objected and courts said no.

    “I’ll testify if possible and answer all questions truthfully. Anything I will say will be the truth,” Smothers told the AP. “I don’t lie.”

    The prosecutor’s office had no comment Monday about Smothers’ willingness to testify. Silver said Smothers has “always wanted to right this wrong.”

    “It’s too bad that a kid who didn’t have anything to do with this crime is sitting in prison. That to me is a tragedy,” Silver said.

    With short hair, clear face and a thin build, Smothers looks much younger than his 30 years. He smiled often during the interview and expressed dry humor, especially when he described odd jobs – drywall, plumbing, roofing – while a student at Detroit’s Kettering High School and later a factory job in Warren.

    “You sound surprised,” Smothers said of his resume.

    He declined to talk about why he became a hit man but said, “I understand people think I’m a monster.”

    “Over the course of my young adulthood, I developed a hard heart where people didn’t matter … When you grow up in the city there’s just certain facts of life,” Smothers said.

  52. drugoon
    Posted February 1, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Permalink


  53. Posted February 2, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    posted from Wandervogel Diary

    by Dan Dailey

    I’m posting late tonight. I have just slept off a headache, and am now settling into the unpleasant task of writing about a situation that epitomizes everything I have moved out here into Nature to get away from.

    Oh well—as they say, you can run but you cannot hide. The culture of urban violence and official corruption is an unavoidable fact of life in America, all the more so when you consider that it is destroying the lives of innocent children and their families. We cannot stand by silently and just watch.

    I think the thing that has most gotten me into a surly mood is that I know at the outset of this task that I have no pearls of wisdom to offer you. I have spent the whole day investigating an outrageous story of justice denied, and my head is swimming in a mess of facts—claims and counter-claims—and a whole bunch of strange names of people I do not understand and have no desire to ever get to know on any level whatsoever: i.e., “Tone Tone”, “Milk Dud”, “Bug”, “T”, and “Homie”. This story began with a contract “hit” of four people in a drug house on Runion Street in East Detroit on September 17, 2007. Not my world.

    A one-eyed developmentally disabled 14-year-old black kid named Davontae Sanford, transfixed by the intense excitement of the crime scene (which was just a short distance from his home), stepped forward to offer police an elaborate and fictional account of the crime which he could not have witnessed, and unwittingly became a convenient target of suspicion. He was taken to the police station, interrogated without a parent or lawyer present, and tricked and coerced into admitting to the murders. He signed a detailed typed confession that he could not have composed or even understood (because, according to his family, he could only read at a third-grade level and had the mental capacity of an 8- or 9-year-old).

    Police and prosecutors ignored credible evidence exonerating Davontae—for example, the testimony of a police chaplain who lived down the street from the crime scene, who had exchanged gunfire with the two perpetrators who were much taller than Davontae (physical descriptions which continue to be absent in prosecutors’ briefs to this day). Davontae’s mother hired a lazy, crooked, and incompetent lawyer—she didn’t know—who advised the kid to cop to a plea based on nonexistent evidence. Based almost solely on his false confession, Davontae was subsequently found guilty and sentenced to 37-90 years in prison.

    After Davontae began serving his sentence, Vincent Smothers, a contract killer, was arrested in 2008 and charged with nearly a dozen murders, including the murder of the wife of a Detroit police officer. Smothers confessed to the Runyon Street murders and named an accomplice—Ernest Nemo Davis. Smothers told the police they had the wrong guy locked up for his crimes and provided a confession which included details only the true perpetrator could have known, as well as a motive. There’s no dispute that Smothers confessed to the Runyon Street slayings, but prosecutors have never charged him or Davis with the murders and have never explained why.

    Instead, the Wayne County prosecutors have fought tooth and nail every effort of Davontae’s attorney to get evidence of Smothers’ confession into evidence at a post-conviction hearing.

    Late last night a reader sent me a link to an Associated Press story by Ed White that Smothers, who had invoked his Fifth Amendment rights and refused to personally testify for Davontae (but would allow his former attorney to relate his testimony—an offer prosecutors rejected and blocked) has apparently seen the light. In an interview with AP reporter White, Smothers has said he’s now willing to testify to right this wrong.

    Now here’s the thing that really got me wound up on this story. Despite the stench of prosecutorial malfeasance, at no place in his story did White ever name any of the prosecutors involved. Not only do they have legal immunity which encourages “winning at any cost” misconduct, but the prosecutors are not even being held publicly accountable for their behavior by the press.

    Not even was the elected Wayne County Prosecutor, Kym Worthy, named. She is a politician who boasts of being “The Toughest Woman in Detroit,” and has proposed jailing parents who fail to show up for teacher conferences at their children’s schools. Apparently she confuses acting with integrity with being a softy. Too bad. (I need to look into whether she failed her ethics courses at the University of Notre Dame Law School.)

    This morning I did some digging and learned that Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Thomas M. Chambers is currently overseeing the Prosecutor Office’s maneuvers to keep Davontae locked up despite ample exculpatory evidence. I haven’t been able to learn much yet about Chambers, but I did make a fascinating discovery about what may be behind the prosecutors’ zeal in refusing to admit to a miscarriage of justice.

    In The People’s Brief in Opposition to Defendant’s Motion to Withdraw Guilty Plea, Chambers states: “The People are cognizant that Defendant is arguing, essentially, that Defendant was spoon-fed the details and information to put into his confession. In order for this Court to find that to be the case, this Court would have to find that Sgt. (Michael) Russell, a seasoned Detroit Homicide Sergeant, with no shown motive to lie, lied at the waiver trial when he testified that he did not tell Defendant what to say, nor did he tell Defendant what to put in his statement.” Yet Davontae’s family says Davontae was shown crime scene photographs and was subjected to other coercive techniques which Northwestern University Law School’s Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth (CWCY) says are standard practice in police interrogations of young people.

    According to the CWCY: There is no doubt that, contrary to what seems logical, people do falsely confess to heinous crimes. In all studies of false confessions, youth are overrepresented.

    Traditional (and legal) police interrogation tactics focus on convincing the suspect that their situation is hopeless, that their guilt is already known, and that the only way to improve their situation is to confess. Police accomplish this goal by relentless and intense leading questions to suspects, rejecting any denials of guilt from the suspect, lying about the evidence they have, minimizing the culpability or moral reprehensibility of the crime, and making implied promises of leniency.

    Police use these same interrogation tactics with young suspects!

    These tactics are tailor-made to get young people to confess, even innocent young people. Exonerated youth who falsely confessed often explain that they confessed merely to stop the intense interrogation so they could go home. Youth are taught to trust the police and categorically are unable to view long-term consequences like adults. Even though they were confessing to heinous crime, these young people actually believed they could go home if they confessed.

    Police are trained to avoid all these same techniques when they interview young victims so that they can be assured the victims’ statements are reliable. There is no reason this same caution should not be used when interviewing young suspects.

    However, I do not believe the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office is going to the mat just to protect one Homicide Sergeant. No, it goes deeper than that. The most intriguing thing I discovered is that Davontae’s original prosecutor was a man named Patrick Muscat—the son of a cop—who, ironically enough, has since been promoted to Director of the Wayne County Prosecutor’s “Conviction Integrity Unit” (CIU).

    Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has been scoring a lot of political points using the work of the Conviction Integrity Unit—most notably the audit by the CIU of sexual assault kits recovered in Detroit Police Department property, for which in 2011 she was included as a speaker at the prestigious Oxford Round Table at Oxford University, England.

    If it became widely known that Muscat used a coerced false confession to frame a mentally disabled child for four murders that were actually carried out by a professional hit man—a hit man who confessed to the murders and scoffs at the idea of Davontae having been an accomplice—this would not only be personally embarrassing to Kym Worthy, but would call into question the whole idea of “Integrity” in the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.

    Bottom line, it’s all about self-preservation and the sacrifice of another throw-away child to crass political ambition. It makes me sick. And my headache’s returned.

  54. Posted February 3, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    posted from Wandervogel Diary

    by Susan Chandler

    On January 30th, the AP reported, “Smothers said he never used a 14-year-old accomplice – blind in one eye and learning disabled – to carry out his paid hits, mostly victims tied to Detroit’s drug trade.”

    It wasn’t Vincent Smothers’ fault that Detroit police arrested Davontae Sanford instead of him and/or his accomplice for the grisly Runyon Street quadruple homicide, or Smothers’ fault the police coerced a false confession from Davontae.

    It wasn’t Smothers’ fault that Wayne County prosecutors ran with Davontae’s wildly improbable (impossible?) confession, and got the kid convicted, or Smothers’ fault that those prosecutors ignored his confession to those four homicides while he confessed to eight others.

    It wasn’t Smothers’ fault that the judge found ways to keep Davontae’s false conviction intact; unwilling to accept anything already of record, unwilling to accept Smothers’ attorney’s testimony. For no reason that furthered justice, the judge indicated he would only accept Smothers re-incriminating himself on the stand, setting himself up for more hard time.

    The police, prosecutors and judge – incapable of doing so themselves – didn’t expect Smothers to man-up. But I did, and I expect that Davontae’s family did. Because the guilty manning-up isn’t all that unusual.

    Jerry Wayne Johnson tried to free Timothy Cole, who was serving time for one of Johnson’s rapes. The petition Johnson prepared to have a court-appointed attorney walk him through the process of admitting to the rape was marked Cause Number 95-550, labeled a civil matter, and buried, even though one of the copy holders was the District Attorney’s Office. Cole died of an asthma attack in prison, and was exonerated posthumously.

    There are going to be more like Jerry Wayne Johnson and Vincent Smothers coming forward. And if public servants and the media ignore their confessions, they’ll come forward through bloggers, and force the media’s hand.

    The guilty who have innocents serving their time are America’s Most Powerful People. They alone can expose how commonplace conviction corruption is. They alone can prove how well crime pays when it’s public servants committing the crimes. They alone can force the FBI and DoJ into investigating and prosecuting the ice-hearted police, prosecutors and judges that don’t care if the wrong person is behind bars, a person that hasn’t the street smarts to survive prison.

    God bless Vincent Smothers, God bless Jerry Wayne Johnson, and God bless every other criminal that steps up to free an innocent … and God damn anyone that tries to stand in their way.

  55. Posted February 7, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Nancy Lockhart of Blog Talk Radio did a phone interview with Davontae Sanford’s mom, Taminko, and his attorney, Kim McGinnes.

  56. Robert
    Posted February 15, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Permalink


    DETROIT (WWJ) – A Detroit police officer who was demoted for investigating claims that former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick had a relationship with a ring of hit men has won a legal victory.

    The Michigan Court of Appeals issued a ruling Wednesday morning reversing a lower court ruling which dismissed the Whistleblower Protection Act suit brought by homicide detective Ira Todd against Kilpatrick and the City of Detroit.

    The appeals court said “there is a genuine issue” that Todd’s reporting about criminal activity involving the hit men ring and Kilpatrick “motivated his transfer” out of the Violent Crime Task Force.

    Todd had testified that one of his superiors told him he could have his old position if he “kept a low profile, kept his mouth shut, and did not have anything further to do with Kentucky or James Davis.”

    Todd claims Davis would open his Kentucky home to two known hit men after killings in Detroit. A Wayne County Judge had dismissed the lawsuit saying Todd’s actions weren’t protected by the Whistleblower Protection Act.

  57. Robert
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    The article this week from CBS, regarding Ira Todd’s whistleblower case against Kwame Kilpatrick and the City of Detroit, is the first to acknowledge Vincent Smothers to have been part of a contract murder ring. It’s interesting. Until now everyone has been avoiding making that statement though all the facts have always obviously implied it.

  58. Posted February 28, 2012 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    We are asking Davontae’s supporters to listen to 1200AM-radio in Detroit today at noon, and to call in to ask the hosts to discuss details and developments in Davontae’s case. Call-In line: 313.298.1200

    In the Detroit area listen on your radio AM-1200 and FM 99.9FM

    Outside Detroit area listen over Internet stream at the station link above (click “Free Davontae!”)

  59. Posted February 28, 2012 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    We are asking Davontae’s supporters to listen to 1200AM-radio in Detroit today at noon, and to call in to ask the hosts to discuss details and developments in Davontae’s case. Call-In line: 313.298.1200

    In the Detroit area listen on your radio AM-1200 and FM 99.9FM

    Outside Detroit area listen over Internet stream at the station link above (click “Free Davontae”)

  60. Robert
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    By Joe Swickard
    Detroit Free Press Staff Writer

    The “patently false evidence” of Detroit’s former top homicide cop helped sink a Detroit teenager’s bid to withdraw his guilty plea to a 2007 quadruple murder, a Wayne County Circuit Court judge ruled Tuesday.

    Judge Brian Sullivan also said in his 29-page opinion released Tuesday that there’s no evidence to show that the statements of now 19-year-old Davontae Sanford were false — part of his defense — and that the purported confession of admitted hit man Vincent Smothers isn’t enough to get Sanford’s plea thrown out.

    In a related opinion, Sullivan refused to bring Smothers into court, saying Smothers asserted his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent when he was called on two earlier occasions.

    Sanford was 14 when he was charged with four counts of first-degree murder for the 2007 fatal shooting of four people at a drug house. In the midst of his bench trial, he was offered a deal to plead guilty to second-degree murder with a sentence of 37-90 years, and he took it.

    Sanford’s appellate lawyer Kim McGinnis asked that plea be thrown out, saying that William Rice, the retired head of the Detroit police homicide section had an alibi for her client: He was with Sanford at a relative’s house when the killings took place.

    McGinnis also said that Sanford’s supposed statements and confessions grew more detailed as police investigated the killing, an indication, she argued, that they were false.

    McGinnis, who has since moved to New Mexico, said Sullivan’s opinion will be challenged and that she will ask the Court of Appeals to have Sullivan take Smothers’ testimony directly.

    Smothers, already serving multiple murder sentences, had told investigators he was hired to do the killings, but has twice refused to testify to that fact in court.

    “Our position was that there was insufficient evidence to support the withdrawal of Sanford’s guilty plea that took place while the trial was in progress,” Maria Miller, spokeswoman for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office, said Tuesday. “We are very pleased with Judge Sullivan’s decision.”

    In the Sanford ruling, Sullivan wrote that Rice’s cell phone records — showing he was in Mt. Clemens, rather than in Detroit as he testified — undercut the alibi he offered for Sanford.

    “The testimony is clearly false,” Sullivan wrote.

    Earlier this month, Rice and Sanford’s aunt were charged by the Wayne County prosecutor with mortgage fraud and having an interest in property that was part of a continuing criminal enterprise that violated drug laws.

    Rice also is charged with perjury, accused of lying while under oath in connection with a federal bankruptcy proceeding, according to the prosecutor’s office. A hearing on those charges is scheduled for March 28.

    In the Sanford case, Sullivan also said that Sanford’s statements implicating himself stand up to scrutiny.

    He said that young people such as Sanford are vulnerable to savvy interrogation and can be lead into a false confession. But Sullivan said there was no evidence presented “that any of his statements were the result of this technique.”

    Likewise, Sullivan said that Smothers’ claims don’t meet the standard to let Sanford withdraw his plea. Additionally, Sullivan said Smothers’ statements are at odds with some key evidence, such as which guns were fired inside or outside the house.

  61. Robert
    Posted March 3, 2012 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    I realize there is no interest here about this case (Maybe too “real” for everybody). But here’s a development that one might find interesting, if one were interested in such things. I’ll bet the Sanford family wasn’t at all interested in any of this before it hit them personally either.

    By: Scott Lewis of WXYZ-TV Detroit

    DETROIT (WXYZ) – A former Detroit top cop is charged with drugs, fraud and running a criminal enterprise.

    Bill Rice has been hit with 16 criminal charges.

    Rice is a former lieutenant who ran the homicide section before his retirement. He was arraigned on these serious criminal charges Wednesday.

    His girlfriend Cheryl Sanford was also charged.

    The 16 charges lodged by the Wayne County Prosecutor include mortgage fraud, running a criminal enterprise, and possession of drugs with the intent to deliver.

    The mortgage fraud charges involve three homes in Detroit and Taylor.

    Rice and Sanford allegedly gave false information to get federal funds for mortgages on the homes.

    Rice’s Detroit home was raided Wednesday morning. He was with the Detroit Police Department for decades.

    Investigators have some heavy muscle in this case. It involves the state police, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department.

    7 Action News spoke with Rice by phone. He confirmed the raid on his home but says he has been advised by his lawyer not to talk about the case.

  62. kjc
    Posted April 2, 2012 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    someone just sent me this to sign.

  63. K2
    Posted April 2, 2012 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    This kid has been in prison for years for a crime that everyone seems to know that he didn’t do, and the best that we can do is sign a petition?

  64. kjc
    Posted April 2, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    i doubt it’s the best thing we can do. but don’t let a petition stand in the way of doing more.

  65. K2
    Posted April 2, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t mean for that to sound like an attack, KJC. I’m sure the petition is well intentioned. I just can’t believe that this kid is still in jail.

  66. kjc
    Posted April 2, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    oh i know. the petition thing feels lame to me too. i was just glad to see his name out there.

    from what Robert posted above, i don’t know what can be done for him.

  67. Robert
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    April 23, 2012 Associated Press

    DETROIT — A Detroit hit man in prison for eight slayings has signed an extraordinary confession to four additional killings in a bid to persuade the Michigan appeals court to order his testimony and possibly free a young man who is locked up for murder.

    The sworn affidavit by Vincent Smothers was filed last week by a lawyer for Davontae Sanford, who at age 15 pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. Sanford, now 19, insists his own confession was false, and he has struggled to have his conviction thrown out.

    In a three-page statement, Smothers said he was hired in fall 2007 to kill a drug dealer as part of a feud between competing gangs. He said Sanford, a neighborhood kid who was just 14 at the time, was not his accomplice.

    “I have never used a juvenile as an accomplice,” said Smothers, who is serving a 52-year sentence for eight other murders.

    A few months ago, Smothers offered to testify in court on behalf of Sanford. But in February, Wayne County Judge Brian Sullivan declined and, at the same time, rejected Sanford’s request to set aside his conviction.

    Smothers hopes the affidavit — a formal, detailed recollection of what happened on Detroit’s Runyon Street — will make a difference with the appeals court.

    “I have nothing to gain by agreeing to testify,” said Smothers, 31. “No one is pressuring or threatening me to testify. I am testifying because Mr. Sanford is innocent of the 4 murders on Runyon Street and should be exonerated.”

    Smothers said he and another man, nicknamed Nemo, scouted the location earlier in the day by playing catch with a baseball a few doors away. They returned and starting shooting — Smothers through the front door with an AK-47 and Nemo with a handgun through a window.

    He said they immediately found victims dead on separate couches. Smothers said a young boy was in bed in another room and a woman was hiding under the bed. They were not injured.

    “Just after we left the house, I fired my AK at a person across the street, who had fired at me,” Smothers said, a reference to a minister who has admitted firing a gun that night.

    In April 2008, Smothers was arrested in suburban Detroit. He quickly admitted participating in 12 murders-for-hire, including the ones on Runyon Street, but was only charged with eight. At the time, Sanford had already pleaded guilty and was in custody.

    “At one point during the interrogation, when I was being escorted to the bathroom, I told a bald detective that they did not have the right person convicted for the Runyon Street murders,” Smothers said in his affidavit.

    The Wayne County prosecutor’s office has refused to back away from Sanford’s guilty plea. But it hasn’t explained why Smothers was never charged, despite the confession to police, and why a gun directly linked to the Runyon Street slayings was recovered from a home associated with Nemo.

    When asked about the affidavit, Maria Miller, a spokeswoman for prosecutors, said her office will wait to hear from the appeals court.

    Sanford’s attorney, Kim McGinnis, wants the appeals court to overturn the trial judge’s decision and allow her client to withdraw his guilty plea or, alternatively, put Smothers on the witness stand.

  68. kjc
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for posting this Robert. Jesus.

  69. anonymous
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    The hit man with the heart of gold. Someone should make a movie.

  70. Posted April 26, 2012 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Vincent Smothers has simply told the truth. I don’t think that requires a “heart of gold” as you suggest, anonymous. The homicide investigators discovered back in their 2008 investigation that Ernest Anthony Davis was the second gunman who assisted Vincent Smothers in the assault on the Runyon Street house. The police, prosecutors, judges and press have all been aware of this fact since April of 2008. That is public record.

  71. Robert
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Free Davontae, you’ll have to pardon anonymous. Among the regular commentors here on simply telling the truth is considered an extraordinary, almost superhuman, act.

  72. anonymous
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Sorry. I know it’s deadly serious stuff. I was just struck by how odd it is that Smothers, a hardened criminal, who has killed a number of people in cold blood, would continue to go out of his way to tell people that they’ve got the wrong man in jail. That seems, to me, like an incredible thing. The real story here, however, is the fact that this young man continues to sit in prison when everyone knows that he had nothing to do whatsoever with the murders in question. It should be all over the national press.

  73. Taminko Sanford
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    First Of All I Would Like To Say Thank You To All My Son Davontae S UPPORTER’S Who Has Been Supportin Davontae Frm Day One,I Apolgizes For Not Been On Thre The Site In A While My Computer Was Down,My Computer Is Now Back Workin,I Will Come On Here Reguarly To Update You On The Case,The Up Coming Events,Questions And Concern,We Are Now Waitin On The Appeal Court TO Make The Right Decision And Let Smothers Testified,Judge Sullivan Denied It Last Month.Smother Say’s He Ready To Tell Everyone He Commited The Crimes Wat He Has Told The Police Since Day One And They Ingore It,Just Like The Person He
    Name Is Free Walkin The Streets Wat Are They Hiding?What Do Smothers Have On Them?

  74. Taminko Sanford
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Be Free To Write Davontae His Information Follows;Davontae Sanford-684070
    Ionia Maxmium Correctional Fac.
    1576 W.Bluewater Highway
    Ionia,Mi 48846-Let him know he’s not alone that,someone cares and that someone is u

  75. Posted May 5, 2012 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Thank you for the update, Taminko. As always, our thoughts are with you and Davontae.

  76. Taminko Sanford
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    As Of Today Their Are No U pdated In Davontae Case,Davontae Has Been Put In A Mental Program AT Ionia Maxmium Correctional Fac. Because Of His Behavior.Where He Housing AT.Davontae Has Been Going Thur Alot Of Abuse There Been Denied His Food,Shower,HOGTIED For Days In His ROOM,Window That Dont Open,No MAIL,Shoes Took Frm HIM and Etc

  77. Robert
    Posted May 8, 2012 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Have the correctional officers carrying out this abuse been identified?

  78. Taminko Sanford
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    Yes Davontae Give Me The Names ;Rutgers,Tefft,Boota

  79. Robert
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    Rutgers, Tefft, and Boota are criminal law professionals. Sadly, I know it’s a long shot, but they might actually care if they were to find out they’ve been abusing an innocent person. Of course, any law enforcement officer who has an ounce of integrity would be concerned about that.

  80. Taminko Sanford
    Posted May 15, 2012 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Let Hope They Will Have A Change Of Heart,FRM My Sources their has been alot of abused going on in Ionia Maxmium Correctional Fac.I Have Talk To other’s mothers too,some prisoner had food poison,beat and etc.The only thing we can do is pray and hope for the best

  81. Robert
    Posted May 15, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Though I wouldn’t fault anybody for praying, Taminko, I can’t agree that it is all that can be done.

    You have to remember what those guards have to deal with every day. It changes people. Unlike your son, most of the inmates there are guilty of terrible crimes. Many are nothing less than monsters.

    Those guards should be contacted and provided full details regarding Davontae’s case. When they see he is just some innocent kid who got framed for what others had done, it may change the way they see things. It may change the way they look at Davontae, and how they treat him.

    The guards are law enforcement professionals. Sure, a few might be sick enough that they don’t care if a person is innocent or guilty. But most do care, at least enough to where it makes a difference to them.

  82. Taminko Sanford
    Posted May 16, 2012 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    I Have Contact The Legisatlate Budman office in lansing i have file a complaint reguarding the abuse Davontae encountedand they have send him paper work to fill out,his lawyer also has take intersed in it also,any help is accepted,thank you

  83. Robert
    Posted May 22, 2012 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    That is good. Remember that these prison guards would probably think differently about Davontae if they knew the details of his case. Though all proper legal steps should be taken automatically, nobody should be treated as an enemy. There really should be someone consulting you regarding all this…preferably an attorney with much experience in these matters.

  84. Taminko Sanford
    Posted May 24, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    I Am Will Be Contacted The Ombudmsn Office back Tuesday,It Been 2/3 Weeks and have not heard nothing.I Hope They Know Am Not Going To Accept This,I Will Be Updating The Site With The Details

  85. Taminko Sanford
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    We Has Experinced A Set Back the Court Of Appeals Has Denied Smother’s To Testify,Now am waitin on Kim Mcginnis Next Move,I will Keep You Updated on wat’s Coming Next,I Never Seen This Much Corruption In One Case In My Life,Please Keep Prayin For Davontae Strenght,peace And His Release,And Please Am Asking All The Supporter’s To Write Davontae To Give Him Strenght And To Let Him Know Somebody Care And That Someone Is You
    Davontae Sanford-684070
    Ionia Maxmium Correctional Fac.
    1576 W..Blue Water Highway
    Ionia,Mi 48846-He’s Getting Tired Of Fightin
    Thank You-taminko Sanford &Family-God Bless You And Thanks In Advanced

  86. Taminko Sanford
    Posted June 2, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    God bless All Davontae Supporter’s-The Sanford Family

  87. Robert
    Posted June 14, 2012 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    It’s unfortunate that nobody is making an effort to keep everyone updated on developments in this case. As long as that goes on, Davontae’s advocates will have no leverage. It would have been wise from the beginning to make this case as visible to as many people as possible and bring as many legal experts into the loop as possible. So far, all I’ve seen is a few people who have placed far too much faith in institutions which are ultimately all too easy to manipulate. It’s sad.

  88. Taminko Sanford
    Posted June 18, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Dear Robert,Their Has Been No Changes In Davontae case As Of Today,We Are At A Stand Still ,I Has Been Coming On The Site Regularly To ChecK For Comment’s,Question’s And Etc,I Will Keep Everyone Updated,The Court Of Appeal’s Is Upholding Judge Sullivan Decision Right Now And has remand it back to Judge Sullivan Who Will NOT LET DAVONTAE TAKE HIS PLEA BACK OR ALLOW SMOTHER’S TO TESTIFY!!!!!!!!!!!

  89. Taminko Sanford
    Posted June 18, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    We Also Has Organized A Call In Every Monday June 1,2010-July 30,2010 To The Wanye County Prosectour’s Office AsKING Them Why Haven’t The Release Davontae Yet?And What Are You Hiding?Why Are You Working So Hard To Prevent Smother’s To Testify,He Has Admitted The Truth To A.P.Reporter And A Signed Addivant,Please Be Free To Call And Get Everyone You Know To Call (313)224-5757

  90. Taminko Sanford
    Posted June 18, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    A Correction The Number Is (313)224-5777

  91. Robert
    Posted June 20, 2012 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    It doesn’t look to me that there is much interest here at regarding Davontae’s case. Of course that doesn’t surprise me. The readers here are imbiciles for the most part. Still, I think Mark and maybe one or two other people here appreciate your updates, Taminko. However, wouldn’t it make more sense to develop a web page and a mass e-mailing list of interested and concerned people everywhere which help keep the pressure up on the case? Has nobody stepped up and suggested doing this for Davontae? Is there some reason why this wouldn’t be the best course of action?

    Another thing; shouldn’t federal complains have been filed regarding all this corruption? It’s pretty obvious that Davontae was deliberately framed to cover the actions of a contract murder ring, with connections even to Chicago organized crime. That’s pretty big stuff. Federal investigators should be all over it…that is if they were the least bit competent.

    Personally, I’d say you need somebody very knowledgeable on such matters consulting you on how to best deal with this situation. Maybe Tamara Greene’s family attorney, Norman Yatooma, can refer you to somebody. Or maybe Investigator Todd’s attorney, Michael Stefani, can. In the past four years since I first heard about this case, I just haven’t seen much that would suggest anybody has any idea what they are doing. That’s very unfortunate; because it’s clear Davontae is innocent and was ordered to be framed.

  92. Taminko Sanford
    Posted June 21, 2012 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Thank You Robert,for that information no-one has even tryed to do nothing,i will contact them attonery name u had given me,and their will be audtion this saturday concering davontae docmentary,i will keep you updated on it and what feedback i get from the attonery,be blessed

  93. Knox
    Posted June 21, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Permalink


    Don’t listen to Robert. A lot of us care about your son, and wish you well in your attempts to see him freed. Please do keep updating us.


  94. Taminko Sanford
    Posted June 22, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    Thank You Knot,i Will Keep This Site And All My Son Davontae Site And Page’s Updated Because I Know Out Of Ten,Three Care And Davontae Has Some Faithful,Deciated,Awesome Supporter’s That Is Appericated By The Sanford Family-Their Are No New Updated Right Now,Tomorrow WE Will Be Doing Audition’s FFor Davontae Docmntary All DaY Tomorrow The Located Is
    Ypilantic District Libraray(in basement)
    229 West Michigan Ave,
    Ypilantic,mi-All day,
    P.S.Thank You knot-God Bless YOU-If You Can Get People To Write Davontae That Will Be A Blessing And Please to All Keep Davontae And His Family In PRAYERS-aLOT oF Role’s Need To Be Filled

  95. Robert
    Posted June 23, 2012 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Taminko, what time are auditions for the documentary being held in the Ypsilanti District Library?

  96. Robert
    Posted June 23, 2012 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Oh, wait, now I see in your comment that the auditions are going on “all day” today. I hope people from the Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor areas who care about this important case will stop in to show support for your fight, Taminko.

    Knox, I did suggest one or two other readers were interested in this case, and I guess you might be one of them. It was good of Mark to blog here about the case. I acknowledge that also. I might have sounded like I was discouraging Taminko from keeping us updates. I didn’t mean that. I appreciate her updates here also. What I meant to express was a concern that more hasn’t been done to spread the word and develop a strong network of informed and involved supporters.

    I appreciate your chiming in though, Knox, and I hope you will continue to help spread Davontae’s story to as many folks as you can.

  97. Edward
    Posted June 23, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    I’m unclear about this. Do you mean “auditions” or “interviews”, Taminko? If it’s a documentary, I’m not sure why you’d have auditions. Are you perhaps going to be doing a reenactment? If so, are you looking for someone who looks live Davontae? Are there other roles you’re looking to cast? Regardless, I wish you luck with this.

  98. Tminko Sanford
    Posted June 25, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    @ edward Yes It Will Be A Docementary/short film we will be re-acting this whole terrible situation again,thank you for your concern,god bless you

  99. Tminko Sanford
    Posted June 25, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    The auditions went well Saturday,We Are Now Workin On Audition’s In Detroit,I was contacted today by Dateline N.B.C. In New York,they are iteresting in davontae’s story,they just hope and wish the producer’s will be too.will keep u updated,we as the Sanford Family Want All The Supporters To Know You Are Appericated By US,And God Bless You

  100. Robert
    Posted June 26, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Taminko, it’s great that Dateline N.B.C. is interested in the story and that Mr. Wilson is doing a documentary on the case also.

  101. Taminko Sanford
    Posted June 28, 2012 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    No UpDated At The Time,GoD Bless All

  102. Taminko Sanford
    Posted July 3, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Wishing Everybody A Safe Holiday And Weekend-Sanford Family

  103. Taminko Sanford
    Posted July 13, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    Their Are No Updated,Wishing Everybody a Safe weekend,A nd God Bless You

  104. Taminko Sanford
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    Their are no updates in Davontae Case as of now,if anything change i will updated the site withy the change,we as the sanford family would like to thank everyone for your support and god bless you all

  105. Hiswife
    Posted September 27, 2012 at 1:19 am | Permalink


  106. Hiswife
    Posted September 27, 2012 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    sorry im just still hurt! I just know i lost someone That was so dear to my hurt 9/17/2007… he Was truly a good person. and i know he was not ready to go … WHY WOULD YOU SAY YOU DID SOMETHING LIKE THIS? HOW WOULD YOU KNOW WERE THE BODYS WERE AND WHY ARE PEOPLE COVERING FOR YOU! IJS ITS A REASON THEY Wont LET HIM GO!

  107. taminko sanford
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    today i was informed that the new york times will be running davontae story in the week of the 8 of oct and fully investion was done a smother has done a sign addivant he did the killing he told detroit police,he dont know why he hasnt been charged yet,davontae confeesion was corced,question without a parent or guardian at 14 that was illegal with a learning disability,e told who paid him and who went with him and no one has been charged or even question tey been walking the street for five years,we has hired a privated invesgator and thank you to all davontae 1500 hundred supporters across the usa who pray,write,support and etc

  108. taminko sanford
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    first of all,you have my deepest sympathy and everybody has and opioion,if i though my son did it i wouldnt been support him or standing by him,he is not god he didnt give,he didnt take it,my son was question without a parent or guardian at the age of 14,my lawyer told me to take the plea,he’s know under investigated he has misrespented 16 cases of innocence people,i have hired a private invegsator and the police just want to close a case,am sorry it was your family,smotjhers has admitted the crime and explain how he took the gun out of runyon house and killed the police wife and told them were to find it at,smothers is not taking up or covering for my child,they havent even arrested ernest davis in five years and he was smothers accomplinace,other officers has told my son was rail road recently,i cant change your mind,but god knew the truth that the only thing that keeps me holding on,because he open doors up to this case and i will countianally to pray for the familes like i have since day one,the case will be getting exposed soon and the truth will be reveales and hopefully they will do the reight thing and give the families the justice they need,instead of lies,i know its coming god is good and davontae has a prayin mother,god bless you all

  109. Taminko Sanford
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Thank you And God Bless You All-Davontae Sanord And Family

  110. Taminko Sanford
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Happy Birthday Baby

  111. Taminko Sanford
    Posted January 19, 2013 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    Sorry i havent been on in a while,i have been in the hosptial twice this year,but god is good,their are no updates about davontae case,but we do have some exitcing news ”the davontae sanford story” will be going fort,the movie will be out september 17,2013 on dvd,directed by flip wilson u can either go on my fb page or flip wilson and watch the previews the are very interesting,once again thank you for your support and god bless you.i will keep you updated on the case and where the dvd will be avabiable for buying,have a safe weekend

  112. Robert
    Posted March 8, 2013 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    I want to get Mel Ayton out here to investigate this case.

  113. Taminko Sanford
    Posted March 12, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Their are no update with the court,please keep davontae in ur prayers,thank u for your support,if u need any questions asked or any details immediately please be free to inbox me on my facebook where am on daily,thanks again

  114. Robert
    Posted March 15, 2013 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Taminko, I had heard that Dateline NBC or one of those other national TV programs had been showing an interest in producing an episode examining Davontae’s case. Is that true? Any further developments regarding media attention like this?

  115. Taminko Sanford
    Posted March 15, 2013 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Dateline NBC contacted me once,and I haven’t heard nothing,davontaee said they send him a letter,but he has heard anything back from them

  116. Robert
    Posted March 19, 2013 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    You may want to contact RT News. They are always interested in doing stories which illustrate how corrupt anything in the U.S. is. The e-mail address for their U.S. bureau is

  117. Taminko Sanford
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Robert in tried to get on the website and couldn’t,god bless u all,and have a blessed weekend

  118. Robert
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    That was just the e-mail address I gave you, Taminko.

    The website is

  119. Taminko Sanford
    Posted June 7, 2013 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    Their are no updates concerning Davontae Case at the time.please keep him uplifted in prayers,and please be free to send him card’s and letter’s,its greatly appericated,thank u,Sanford Family

  120. Taminko Sanford
    Posted September 28, 2013 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Thank u Father,We Won In Court Of Appeals,That’s Now Allowing Smothers And His Lawyer And A False Confession Expert To Come In,Thank u for ur prayers,Please Keep Praying For Us,Will keep u updated,God Bless U ALL

  121. Robert
    Posted October 27, 2013 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Congratulations, Taminko! Please congratulate Davontae for all of us here also. I am so sorry for what he has been put through by those corrupt officials. Now we all pray with you that the day comes as soon as possible, when Davontae walks out of and away from that prison for good. Tell Davontae I admire him for his strength in holding on through this terrible nightmare. Getting through this should prove to him that he can get through any tough times in life, no matter how bleak they may seem at the time. He may have an appreciation for his freedom that the rest of us too often take for granted.

  122. Meta
    Posted April 30, 2014 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    The Michigan Supreme Court decided against Davontae Sanford.

    The Michigan Supreme Court says a young Detroit man can’t withdraw his guilty plea to four murders that occurred when he was 14.

    It’s a blow to Davontae Sanford, who has been trying to undo his guilty plea for more than five years. The Supreme Court order last week doesn’t end the case. But appellate lawyer Jonathan Sacks says an effort to clear Sanford will have to start from scratch.

    Sanford is in prison for the deaths of four people in 2007. But weeks after Sanford’s guilty plea, a hit man took responsibility for the Runyon Street homicides.

    Vincent Smothers insists Sanford had no role. Smothers is in prison for eight other killings and is willing to testify for Sanford.

    Read more:

  123. Jon
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Another case of mentally disabled black men being coerced into confessions.

    “Thirty years after their convictions in the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl in rural North Carolina, based on confessions that they quickly repudiated and said were coerced, two mentally disabled half brothers were declared innocent and ordered released Tuesday by a judge here.

    The case against the men, always weak, fell apart after DNA evidence implicated another man whose possible involvement had been somehow overlooked by the authorities even though he lived only a block from where the victim’s body was found, and he had admitted to committing a similar rape and murder around the same time.”

  124. Posted March 14, 2016 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Sign this petition:

    Please join me in standing up for justice. Ask Gov. Snyder to do the right thing and grant Davontae Sanford clemency. One day in jail for a crime you did not commit is too long, nine years is a nightmare. Let’s help end Davontae’s nightmare.

    Davontae Sanford has been in prison for nearly nine years for a crime he did not commit. In 2007, Sanford, a partially blind, developmentally disabled 14-year-old child, was interrogated by police after four people were murdered on Runyon Street in his neighborhood. He was questioned twice without the presence of his parents or an attorney. In the second of his two statements, he implicated himself as one of the shooters, but later “told a psychologist that he had made it all up because the police had told him he could go home if he would ‘just [tell] them something.’”

    Two weeks after Davontae was convicted of the crime, another man confessed and gave unknown details of the murder and led authorities to one of the murder weapons. However, hitman Vincent “Vito” Smothers was never charged in the quadruple homicide for which Mr. Sanford now wastes away in prison. According to the Marshall Project, although Smothers denied Sanford’s involvement in the murders, prosecutors offered him a shorter sentence for all of the 12 murders he had confessed to if he promised not to testify in Sanford’s defense.

    What more do officials need to be convinced that this is a horrible miscarriage of justice and that Davontae Sanford should not be behind bars? Please join me in asking Gov. Rick Snyder to grant Sanford clemency and free him from his unjust 39-year sentence.

    Sanford’s trial lawyer had a long record of incompetence and has since been suspended from practicing in the state of Michigan. For reasons still unknown, Robert Slameka decided not to even challenge Sanford’s confession in court, even though it was clear that his age and disability, and the way it was acquired, should have raised blaring red flags.

    Vincent Smothers is now serving time for having several murders. After having told police that he was responsible for the crime Davontae was being punished for, he spoke these words in an interview with the Associated Press:

    “He’s not guilty. He didn’t do it… I understand what prison life is like; it’s miserable. To be here and be innocent – I don’t know what it’s like. He’s a kid, and I hate for him to do the kind of time they’re giving him.”

    It is shocking that such compassion came from a man responsible for killing a dozen people, while the prosecutor and judge in Davontae’s case seem incapable of the same.

  125. iRobert
    Posted June 4, 2016 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Thank you for your posts regarding the Davontae Sanford case, Mark. You were one of the very few people in this state to shed light on the glaringly revealing details of this case.

    Now the Michigan State Police have finished their “better late than never” investigation and have concluded what anybody with any sense knew from day one, which is that Davontae Sanford, an innocent 14 year old child, was deliberately framed on orders, for the purpose of covering up a heinous contract murder of four innocent people.

  126. Posted June 5, 2016 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Robert. I didn’t do much, but it’s nice of you to say.

    Do you have a link to this new report you mention?

  127. Posted June 7, 2016 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Judge Brian Sullivan has signed the order. DAVONTAE is going FREE TODAY!!!

    Thank you for support, Mark, and for bringing so much attention to this sickening injustice.

  128. Posted June 7, 2016 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Mark, I will see what I can get of the State Police report. I think they’ll want to keep a lot of it pretty secret. The state police have certainly seen how so many corrupt officials worked to keep this frame-up under wraps.

  129. Posted July 19, 2016 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    I have been blocked from posting to this blog. My last two posts never appeared.

  130. Posted April 2, 2019 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    One has to wonder if the murder of Davontae’s step-father in November of 2016, and the shooting which wounded Davontae in September of 2017 were connected to the frame-up of Davontae by corrupt police officers acting to cover up the contract murder of four people on Runyon Street back in 2007.

  131. iRobert
    Posted March 8, 2021 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    Law enforcement officials framing Davontae Sanford put blood from one of the Runyon Street murder victims on Davontae’s shoe. Detroit officials too stupid to recognize the obvious clues from the outset that Davontae was being framed in order to cover up a contract murder continue to be dumbfounded by simple and blatant manipulations. Meanwhile, cops with brains and or integrity are drummed off the force.

    “The state of Michigan paid $408,000 to Sanford for a wrongful conviction. He’s now suing Detroit police in federal court, alleging his rights were violated during the investigation.”

    From the Detroit Free Press:

    Detroit wrongful conviction case takes strange twist with blood on shoe test

5 Trackbacks

  1. […] think this makes a nice companion piece to last week’s discussion on the case of Davontae Sanford. This entry was posted in Civil Liberties, Detroit and tagged race and the American justice […]

  2. […] we’ve discussed the troubling case of Davontae Sanford several times. As you may recall, Davontae was taken into police custody in Detroit at the age of 14 for the murder of four people. We’re told that Davontae, who is developmentally disable, and blind in one eye, confessed to […]

  3. […] website got 27,977 unique readers yesterday, after something that I’d written a while ago about Davontae Sandford enjoyed a short stint on the front page of Reddit… Davontae, as you’ll recall, is the […]

  4. […] of him. He’s someone we’ve been talking about here over the past several years, since he was arrested the age of 14 for the murder of four people in a Detroit drug house. His name is Davontae […]

  5. […] man by the name of Davontae Sanford. As you may recall, Davontae, who is developmentally disabled, was taken into police custody in Detroit at the age of 14 for the murder of four people and eventually sentenced to serve from thirty-seven to ninety years, in spite of the fact that he […]

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