Detroit Cop Failures Hamper Fireworks Murder Case


The collapse of the murder case in the June 23 shooting of nine spectators at a downtown Detroit fireworks show revealed a pattern of police failures to notify prosecutors of significant developments in the case, says the Detroit News. In an embarrassing turnaround that could jeopardize any chance of a conviction in the case, Wayne County Circuit Judge Mary Waterstone agreed with prosecutors and ordered Daron Caldwell released. She threw out a second-degree murder charge, six counts of assault with intent to commit murder and other felony charges against him. Caldwell, 32, had been held on a $100 million bond since June 24. The case was dropped because DNA evidence didn't tie Caldwell to items found at the crime scene, and police ballistic tests found that two guns were used in the shooting. Caldwell said Detroit police rushed to judgment because of the city's desire to quickly arrest someone. “You had the Super Bowl people here,” he said.

The News said police failed to conduct DNA tests in a timely way – and only did so after prosecutors demanded. Police lied to Caldwell in an attempt to get him to confess and waited a month to tell prosecutors that the gunshots came from two weapons, not one, records revealed. Prosecutor Kym Worthy said, “We are committed to finding out who committed this crime and to solving it.” That might now be all but impossible, said Peter Henning, a Wayne State University law professor who suggested that prosecutors may have been hindered by a lack of access to all police reports. “There was clearly a communication problem between the prosecutor's office and the police,” said Henning, a former federal prosecutor. “Short of a confession, it's going to be almost impossible to prosecute someone in this case. If the real shooter is caught, they will say, 'The police had the right guy the first time.' ”


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