Monday, September 28, 2015

"We have 3 unsolved murders; which one do you want?"

My name is James Edward Calhoun. I'm currently confined at the Lakeland Correctional Facility for a murder I didn't commit. The injustice in the justice system that led to my incarceration continues to result in the unjust incarceration of young and old Black men today, both in the city of Detroit and statewide.

In 1986 I was picked up in the Browster Projects and held on the 9th floor at 1300 Beaubien for a murder that I didn't commit. Two homicide detectives conspired to pressure me into testifying against a person who they felt committed the crime. They told me that they knew I had information that could lead to a conviction. At that time, they had an informant by the name of Anthony Jones in custody on an unrelated charge. He claimed to be an acquaintance of mine and of the victim of the murder. According to Jones, the victim and I worked together selling narcotics, which was a lie. He also claimed that we fought with each other on the day before the victim was murdered. Following this alleged fight, I allegedly said I was going to "get someone." According to Jones, the fight arose because the victim had been selling fake narcotics to my customers.

I was bound over on the charge of murder and arraigned in the 36th District Court. During the arraignment, Molly, the victim's sister, and the victim's mother walked into the courtroom and went with the prosecutor into a room off from the courtroom. My conviction was later overturned based on the evidence that came out of that room. Prosecutor Agacinski tried to coerce Molly to go along with what the informant Jones was claiming. But Molly told Agacinski that she was with me when her brother was killed and not with Jones as he claimed. So the prosecution couldn't use Molly's testimony.

Agacinski, who recently headed the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission, says nothing was ever done to address the concerns he outlined concerning false prosecutions. He said he was "low-middle ranking management" and that he "wasn't part of the top level." As reported to Truthout, he said nobody ever told him anything else and he had no idea if the memo he authored about the problem was acted on.

My first murder conviction was overturned in 1989 after I stayed in the county jail for two years. Wendy Baxter was the presiding judge at the time and the prosecution tried to get me to take a plea of nolo contendre, which would have kept my false conviction in place. I refused and was released in 1991.

In 2004 I was picked up again for a different homicide. This time my son was shooting dice with the victim, named Jimmy Powell. An argument broke out over the dice game and they tussled. Charlie Ameson, my son, threw Jimmy to the ground, who then got up and pulled a gun and fired shots at Charlie. A month later, Jimmy Powell was killed. Barbara, a live-in girlfriend, told homicide detectives that I told her I shot Jimmy Powell first, my brother shot him second, and my son shot him last. This was a lie. My brother who shot and killed Jimmy Powell was killed by SWAT. My son, who actually plead guilty to the murder and was given four years for the murder and two years for the gun, was not even the one who killed the victim.

The Innocence Project has my application. I pray that they take my case. I can take a lie detector test, and my son is willing to take a test as well. I also have affidavits from witnesses that could exonerate me. Informants lie primarily in exchange for leniency for their own crimes, although sometimes they lie for money according to a recent report. I need whatever help I can get. I've currently been locked up for eleven years for a murder I didn't commit.