Panel awards $10M to man wrongfully imprisoned for nearly 20 years in Detroit double slaying

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

A Metro Detroit man wrongfully imprisoned for 17 years has been awarded $9.95 million by an arbitration panel, the man's attorney announced Monday.

A three-person arbitration panel, composed of three retired judges, awarded the money Friday to Mubarez Ahmed, who was wrongfully convicted in 2002 for the double murder of Lavelle Griffin and LaTanya White in Detroit.

The award capped a long battle against a Detroit Police Department detective who, according to Ahmed's lawyer Wolfgang Mueller, framed him. The award from the panel stems from a federal lawsuit Ahmed filed against the officer in 2018.

Mubarez Ahmed of Dearborn speaks in 2018 about his experiences in prison. He was exonerated in a double slaying after serving 17 years.

Ahmed, a 51-year-old Dearborn resident, was incarcerated before new evidence uncovered by the Michigan Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan law school and the Wayne County Conviction Integrity Unit   resulted in his exoneration in September 2018.

Key evidence in the civil lawsuit came from the only eyewitness to the murder, Izora Clark, who testified that the lead Detroit Police homicide detective, Sgt. Ernest Wilson, brought her to the police station to view a live lineup. She said just before the lineup, Wilson showed her a photo of Ahmed and told her, “that’s the m----------- who killed the two people.” 

Wilson allegedly told Clark to pick Ahmed out of the lineup and not to tell anyone he showed her the photograph.

Mueller said another critical piece of evidence was that Wilson "hid" from the prosecutor and defense attorney that he knew from federal agents and Ahmed’s former girlfriend (who drove a car similar to the described getaway vehicle) that Ahmed and the girlfriend had broken up several months before the fatal shooting and that he did not have access to the woman's vehicle.

Also, several key witnesses testified in the case that, had they known of Wilson’s alleged misconduct, the criminal case would never had gone to trial. 

More:Judge won't toss exoneree's suit against Detroit officer

Former Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Kenneth King, now a 36th District judge, testified that he would not have recommended an arrest warrant in the case had he known of the tainted identification procedure. 

Trial judge Vonda Evans also testified she would not have continued the case had she known Wilson allegedly made up the name of a girlfriend to tie Ahmed to the crime.

Jerry Dorsey IV, the trial prosecutor,  testified it was his “nightmare” to have participated in a wrongful conviction.

Ahmed pleaded guilty in 2001 to a federal drug charge while awaiting trial on the murder. He would have served 7.5 years in federal prison on the drug charge and would have been home in 4.5 years, said Mueller.

The City of Detroit is responsible for paying the award, Mueller said.