Cleared in ’87 slaying, man charged with assault

George Hunter
The Detroit News

A man who spent 25 years in prison for murder before the case against him was dropped was charged Tuesday with assaulting his wife.

Thomas Highers, who with his brother Raymond Highers was convicted in 1987 of killing a drug dealer, faced charges including felonious assault in 41B District Count in Mount Clemens on Tuesday, said Thomas Highers’ attorney David Cripps.

“It’s early in the case, and we’re awaiting full discovery, so I don’t have the details of the allegations,” Cripps said. “He is maintaining his innocence.”

Bond was set at $20,000. A probable-cause conference is set for March 5, Cripps said.

Cripps said his client “carries a heavy load,” after being wrongfully convicted of murder and spending 25 years in prison.

“He had to battle the legal system for a quarter-century, and I’ll make sure his rights aren’t further violated,” Cripps said.

The Highers brothers were convicted of killing a marijuana dealer with a shotgun after a witness said he saw two white men running from the house after the shooting. Another man testified he heard Thomas Highers planning to rob the dealer, saying he’d kill him if necessary.

After they had served 25 years in prison, new witnesses came forward saying they saw two black men shoot the drug dealer. Prosecutors argued the new witnesses were conspiring to free the Highers brothers, who are white. In August 2012, a judge granted a new trial and the brothers were released from prison.

Prosecutors waited more than a year before dismissing the charges. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who was not the prosecutor when the murder happened, said the case was too old to retry because it would be too difficult to round up evidence and witnesses.

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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN