Detroit man released from prison after 34 years

Detroit News staff and wires

A Detroit man has been released from state prison after serving more than three decades for a murder he says he didn’t commit.

Darrell A. Siggers, 54, was discharged from a prison in Wayne County on July 30, 2018, according to the Michigan Department of Corrections.

Siggers was sentenced to life in prison in 1984 for the first-degree murder of James Montgomery. He was also sentenced to two years in prison for felony firearm possession.

Montgomery was shot and killed on Feb. 6, 1984 as he walked on Phillip Street on Detroit's east side, according to court documents posted on a web site Siggers created to aid in his campaign for a new trial/

Siggers has maintained he was wrongfully convicted and said the ballistics evidence and expert testimony against him was unreliable and inadmissible.

He told WXYZ-TV (Channel 7) that he’s always had faith in the system and believed it could work.

Years of appeals led to new evidence being brought forward and witnesses being discredited, according to Siggers’ attorney Wolf Mueller.

Detroit Police Sgt. Claude Houseworth had testified in Siggers’ trial that bullets recovered from the victim, the crime scene and Siggers’ home were fired from the same gun, according to court documents. The weapon was never recovered. The ballistics evidence was destroyed by Detroit police in 2003, so it cannot be further tested.

But a ballistic expert found in 2015 that “Sgt. Houseworth’s conclusions were ‘erroneous,’ ‘unbelievable’ and ‘highly improbable,’” said Michael Waldo, Siggers’ attorney with the Michigan State Appellate Defender Office.

“I don’t know how (prosecutors) would resurrect a 34-year-old case at this point,” Mueller said. “Every bullet expert who has looked at this testimony said it was garbage.”

Siggers spent much of his time incarcerated educating himself in the law library on the criminal justice system, he said.

“Here’s a guy laser-focused on getting himself out, understanding the system and writing his own legal briefs,” Mueller said. “This is an incredible person.”

Siggers’ re-trial is scheduled for December. Until then, he plans to spend time with his family and take college classes to expand on the associate degree he earned behind bars.