MINNEAPOLIS — A Minnesota man who was serving a life sentence for the murder of a flower shop employee in 2004 has had his conviction overturned and is out of prison.
On Monday, a judge signed an order overturning Marvin Haynes' conviction for the murder of 55-year-old Randy Sherer.
Haynes, now 36, was sentenced to life in prison when he was 17 for Sherer's murder. Sherer was working in his family's north Minneapolis flower shop when he was fatally shot.and that no physical evidence tied him to the crime.
Police, as they are allowed to do, lied about the fingerprints being at the scene.
The judge overturned the conviction on the basis of unconstitutional witness identification used to convict Haynes, according to the order, as well as a lack of physical evidence tying him to the crime.
The murder of Sherer now remains unsolved. The Minneapolis Police Department said it is "under review."
Attorneys for the Great North Innocence Project took up the case after Haynes' sister, Marvina, fought for years to clear him.
"I want to thank the Great North Innocence Project, Julie Jonas, my family and friends, and everyone who supported me through this long journey," Haynes said in a statement. Jonas is the former legal director of the Great North Innocence Project.
Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty offered an unprecedented apology.
"Almost 20 years ago, a terrible injustice occurred when the state prosecuted Marvin Haynes," Moriarty said in a statement. "We inflicted harm on Mr. Haynes and his family, and also on [Randy] Sherer, the victim, his family, and the community. We cannot undo the trauma experienced by those impacted by this prosecution, but today we have taken a step toward righting this wrong."
With the help of the Great North Innocence Project, Haynes successfully lobbied to plead his innocence before a Hennepin County judge. Last month, Judge William Koch.
"The Senator respects the judicial process. She has worked closely with the Innocence Project on reforms and has long supported their work, and will continue to do so," a spokesperson for Sen. Amy Klobuchar said.
Haynes says he is just glad that people now believe what he has been saying for 19 years. He said the first thing he planned to do after his release was to visit his mother who hasn't seen in three years, and recently had a stroke.
"I am just appreciative to be here so people can recognize my innocence," Haynes said.
Haynes' attorney says he will be looking at seeking reparations for Haynes under Minnesota's wrongly convicted law.
Mike Furnstahl, a retired assistant county attorney who prosecuted the case, told WCCO that he's "appalled" by the release, calling it "abhorrent."
He called it "curious" that Haynes' initial appeal of his conviction didn't address problems with the eyewitness identification evidence.
Furnstahl also says there was more to the conviction than just the eyewitness identification, saying multiple people testified during the trial that Haynes confessed to committing the crime.
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