Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy chooses not to pursue perjury charges against former Detroit Police Deputy Chief James Tolbert for his role in the framing of Davonte Sanford


Over the past five years, I’ve written quite a bit on this site about a young man by the name of Davonte Sanford. [Sanford is pictured above.] As you may recall, Davontae, who is developmentally disabled and blind in one eye, 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 prison. This, as you might also recall, happened in spite of the fact that he was questioned for hours on end without the presence of his mother or legal council, and signed a typed confession stating that he’d committed the murders with a different weapon than the one which was actually used by the killer. Well, now that Davontae has been found not guilty of the charges, and set free from prison after having served 8 years of his sentence, we’re beginning to get a better sense of how it came to pass that he was framed for murder. Most notably, based on conflicting testimony given by former Detroit Police Deputy Chief James Tolbert over the past several years, it would appear that the crime scene drawing submitted into evidence along with Sanford’s coerced confession was in fact not drawn by the 14 year old, as we had been told, but by the officers who interrogated him. In fact, perjury charges were recently leveled against Tolbert, and many felt that Sanford might finally see justice served. Unfortunately, though, Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy decided yesterday not to issue a warrant against Tolbert, saying that she couldn’t prosecute, given that Sanford had refused to testify agains the officer… The only problem is, Sanford says he told Worthy no such thing. He would have gladly helped the prosecution, he told reporters today.

Sanford, for what it’s worth, thinks he knows why Worthy chose not to pursue charges against the officer. “I think the main reason she didn’t want to charge Tolbert is because, you got to think about it, if he lied on my case, how many other cases he did lie on?” he said. “I don’t think she wants to deal with that.”

Here’s footage from Channel 4:

It’s also worth noting that Kym Worthy only released Sanford from prison when she was forced to by Wayne County Judge Brian Sullivan. In spite of the fact that professional hitman Vincent Smothers had come forward in 2008 to say that he had been the murderer, Worthy allowed Sanford to stay in prison until she had no choice but to free him, fighting his release at every turn.

It’s not a confirmed yet, but it’s possible that I will be talking about the Davontae Sanford case on the radio this Saturday evening. Stay tuned for details.

[Here, for those of you who are interested, are some of our earlier posts on the Davontae Sanford case: The strange case of Davontae Sanford; Davontae Sanford, in prison for murders he almost certainly didn’t commit, finally gets national exposure in The New Yorker; Making the front page of Reddit with my post on Davontae Sanford; Disturbing video surfaces of Davontae Sanford being forcefully subdued by prison guards at the age of 16; Davontae Staford, framed for four murders at the age of 14, is scheduled to return home tomorrow after serving nearly 9 years in prison.]

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  1. Lynne
    Posted July 13, 2016 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    What is her problem? This guy needs to be charged.

  2. stupid hick
    Posted July 14, 2016 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    I don’t know if it’s applicable here, but in June the Michigan Supreme Court upheld a state law that police can’t be prosecuted for lying about their conduct. Seriously.


    An excerpt from the article:

    Under the law, “any information provided by a law enforcement officer, if compelled under threat of any employment sanctions by the officer’s employer, cannot be used against the officer in subsequent criminal proceedings,” the Supreme Court ruled.

    “The act does not distinguish between true and false statements.

    “Therefore, even if false, the officer’s statements cannot be used against the officer in a subsequent prosecution.”

  3. Citywatch
    Posted July 14, 2016 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    I doubt that Kym Worthy would do anything outside the law. She has been a dutiful servant of the people in one of the most difficult jobs imaginable.

  4. Eel
    Posted July 14, 2016 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    I thought that was sarcasm until I got to to the very end, Citywatch. Now I’m not so sure.

  5. Christine Moellering
    Posted July 14, 2016 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Kym Worthy must not believe in karma.

  6. Monica
    Posted July 14, 2016 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    I had so loved her for the push to have old rape kits tested and to have those crimes prosecuted. Drat.

  7. P Anne Palmer
    Posted July 14, 2016 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    This sounds like some “inside politricks shit”. It seems like it would be to her advantage to do what is right and also for the judge to IMMEDIATELY clear up Mr Sanford’s record.

  8. Liam Hoekenga
    Posted July 14, 2016 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    And she waited until the day before the statute of limitations ran out to announce her decision.


  9. CAdamP
    Posted July 14, 2016 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    That Supreme Court decision didn’t allow perjury. “The state Supreme Court Wednesday ruled that lies told by police officers can’t be used against them — in certain situations”

    This is still some garbage though. There seems to be some weird disease that law enforcement, once accusing a suspect, can never fully see him innocent again. If he didn’t do the crime he’s charged with, he probably did something… Good grief.

  10. Jay Steichmann
    Posted July 15, 2016 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    I respect Kym Worthy for a lot of things, but I have harbored no illusions that she is totally on the side of Lawn Order.

  11. alan2102
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Lynne: “What is her problem? This guy needs to be charged.”

    Her problem is the same problem with all of our extravagantly-paid “leaders” and “experts”: full-bore corruption and complicity with, if not active participation in, lies, fraud and criminality.

  12. Donna Thomas
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Detroit needs to get rid of Kim Worthy, ASAP!! Point Blank!! So, so wrong!! She should NOT be in any kind of office, power, or position. She is corrupt!! A puppet!! No backbone to stand up against what she knows is wrong!! Allowing an innocent child to suffer in prison because if made up lies, false statements from public officials, officers, and detectives!! They should all be punished to the fullest extent of the law, the same way they were punishing this innocent child, Davonte Sanford..Not enough guts to prosecute the adults who were guilty of this crime..I have absolutely no respect for someone with her moral character!! Fire her!!!

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