Kilpatrick 'can't show actual innocence,' judge says in rejecting appeal

Robert Snell
The Detroit News
Kwame Kilpatrick in Detroit in 2012

Detroit — A federal judge refused Tuesday to set aside the 28-year prison sentence she gave to former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in 2013, yet another setback in the corrupt politician's bid for freedom.

Kilpatrick, 48, argued the prison sentence should have been vacated for a variety of reasons, including incorrect jury instructions, impermissible hearsay and because his defense lawyer had a conflict of interest.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds denied Kilpatrick's motion to vacate the sentence, saying he failed to raise some of the issues in an earlier appeal and that he failed to show he was disadvantaged by any alleged errors.

"Nor can defendant show actual innocence," Edmunds wrote. "As this court has previously discussed at length, the evidence at trial weighed heavily in support of the verdicts of guilt against defendant."

The appeal was viewed by legal experts as Kilpatrick's last shot at convincing a judge to erase the 28-year federal prison sentence that tied the longest such corruption sentence in U.S. history given to former Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Commissioner Jimmy Dimora.

Kilpatrick was convicted of running a criminal enterprise out of City Hall that included steering rigged water and sewer contracts to buddy Bobby Ferguson.

The judge's order Monday follows failed attempts to have the conviction overturned by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals or have Kilpatrick's case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Separately, Kilpatrick has sought clemency from President Donald Trump, but he doesn't appear to meet the Justice Department's standards for considering a reduction of his prison sentence. 

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