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  • 117- Detroit Exoneree Eric Anderson Reflects on 9 Years Wrongfully Incarcerated for a Brutal Robbery

117- Detroit Exoneree Eric Anderson Reflects on 9 Years Wrongfully Incarcerated for a Brutal Robbery

117- Detroit Exoneree Eric Anderson Reflects on 9 Years Wrongfully Incarcerated for a Brutal Robbery

In April 2010, Eric Anderson was arrested and charged for involvement in a robbery and beating of two men outside their Detroit home. At the time of the crime, Anderson was actually at a Coney Island, ten miles from the scene, where he was shot in the foot, necessitating immediate medical attention.

Despite hospital records confirming his treatment, and Coney Island security footage substantiating his injury, Eric would spend nine years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, asserting his innocence the entire time.

The Michigan Innocence Clinic re-investigated Anderson’s claims of innocence and, following an interview with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office’s Conviction Integrity Unit, his sentence was vacated on April 30th, 2019.

How did such a convoluted chain of events transpire when multiple pieces of evidence corroborated Eric’s claims of innocence? Why was he allowed to languish in prison for so long when it was clear he couldn’t have committed this robbery?

Tune in to this mind-blowing, all-new installment of Open Mike to find out!

Show Notes

[00:01] Welcome to Open Mike!

[00:20] Eric Anderson’s background and bio.

[02:10] Welcome to the show, Eric. The story is kind of crazy and convoluted but, not to do a spoiler alert, you’re out of prison after spending nine years wrongfully incarcerated. Let’s show how ridiculous this conviction was.

[03:10] April 18th, 2010, about 3:30 in the morning. Tell us about your stop at Coney Island. What happened there that led to you being shot in the foot?

[04:14] You walk into the Coney and almost immediately get shot in the foot. Then what happened?

[06:02] You didn’t want to go to Detroit Receiving Hospital, which was closer, you chose to go to Sinai Grace because that’s the hospital you were familiar with? These facts become very relevant to your trial later.

[07:05] Were you released that night, or did they keep you overnight?

[07:38] At the same time of your shooting, two armed men with their shirts pulled up over their faces robbed 20-year-old Gregory Matthews Jr. and a friend, 19-year-old Stephon Tolin, on the street outside Matthews’s home in Detroit, Michigan. Did you know these two people?

[08:37] This happened a few miles from the Coney Island you were shot, is that true?

[10:05] One of the witnesses said they heard a gunshot as the assailants were turning a corner, which was included in the police report.

[10:30] Ten days later after you were shot, what happened?

[11:23] Police pulled over Eric (and his friend who was driving) and told Eric he was under arrest; they believed he robbed Gregory and Stephon and shot himself in the foot.

[11:44] Do you know how you became a suspect?

[14:25] Two weeks after Eric’s arrest, they transported him to Michigan State Police to take a polygraph test.

[16:28] To this day, you’ve never seen your face on surveillance footage from that Coney Island. But your distinctive, Ed Hardy jeans, tight hair, and other identifying markers could tie you to the scene of your shooting. Is it clear that, when you walk in, that’s you? Does the video show you getting shot in the foot?

[18:30] When you got the polygraph, did you have an attorney yet?

[18:56] For anyone watching… the second you are under arrest, stop talking and get an attorney, and let the attorney walk you through this process.

[19:10] You took the polygraph… did they tell you right then and there that you failed it? What did they say to you?

[19:43] In September 2010, Eric was offered a plea of probation. He declined because he didn’t commit the crime.

[20:40] Eric was confident that people upholding the system of justice would do the right thing, and he declined to hire an attorney to save money.

[22:59] Two months later, Eric went to trial with a court-appointed attorney who improperly represented him, and didn’t show the jury the surveillance footage, despite Eric’s urging. He provided the jury video stills instead.

[24:39] One of Eric’s friends who was also implicated in the crime, yet not arrested, testified on Eric’s behalf.

[25:21] What was the prosecution’s case?

[26:44] The angle of Eric’s bullet wound proved that he didn’t shoot himself. His court-appointed attorney didn’t recruit any expert medical witnesses to verify.

[27:40] Who did the prosecution put on? These witnesses who said they saw you pistol whip and rob these guys?

[29:47] Did your defense attorney cross-examine these witnesses?

[30:45] The location of the robbery in respect to Sinai Grace seems to be what hurt you in trial. Where about did the robbery occur? How many miles is that from Sinai Grace?

[32:11] How did they argue that you would have even known about that shooting while you were at Sinai Grace? How is that even possible?

[33:17] Despite all of these defenses, you were convicted on November 5, 2010, of two counts of armed robbery, assault, and illegal use of a weapon. What did you think of that guilty verdict?

[34:18] Did you ever think the truth would come out after that massive sentence?

[34:32] Two years later, the Michigan Court of Appeals vacated your assault conviction, because it was multiple punishment for the same offense. But upheld the other charges and resentenced 12 to 20 years plus two years for weapons charges. That was basically a technicality issue. But you did something smart and, in 2018, got the Michigan Innocence Clinic involved. How did you do that?

[36:40] The Michigan Innocence Clinic convinced the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office Conviction Integrity Unit, upon their own investigations, to vacate Eric’s convictions.

[37:46] Tell me about the person who admitted to the crime you were accused of committing. How did you find out who did it?

[38:47] The actual perpetrator was serving prison time for a different time and offered to admit to the crime. But you didn’t take him up on the offer. That’s curious to me!

[40:05] The perpetrator also sent Eric a signed affidavit saying he committed the robbery.

[41:01] You’re doing twelve years of prison time for a crime you didn’t commit, and you have compassion for this guy to not add on to his sentence! It sounds like a smoking gun that could have gotten you out sooner. Did the Michigan Innocence Clinic use this information?

[43:32] A breakdown of the hospital records demonstrated that Eric couldn’t have committed the robbery.

[44:12] How long after the Conviction Integrity Unit interview were you released? Can you tell me about that day?

[47:53] Did anybody from the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office apologize to you?

[49:17] Eric and the National Registry of Exonerees are pushing for greater awareness of the wrongful conviction crisis that has been plaguing the American criminal justice system.

[50:53] You’ve been out for two-and-a-half years… how difficult has it been to reacclimate to society?

[51:21] You did receive some compensation from the state of Michigan, correct? What about the federal government?

[54:48] One of the reasons we do these shows is so that potential jurors will do the right thing, look at things with the right skepticism, and put the proper weight behind their decision. Because these wrongful convictions happen all the time and people need to hear about these stories.

[55:29] Did the man who committed these crimes ever get convicted? Have you spoken with him?

[56:23] Thank you for coming on the show. I’m sorry for what you went through and am grateful for your advocacy work to help change some of these laws.

[58:10] Thank you for watching Open Mike with another wrongfully convicted person, right here in Michigan. Eric Anderson spent nine years in prison for a crime he absolutely could not have committed. Another heartbreaking story. Lots of thanks to Eric for sharing his story. Like, share, comment, subscribe, and give us feedback on what you’d like us to cover next. Until next time!

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