BURLINGTON, Mich. (WXYZ) - Lorinda Swain could be enjoying her last few days of freedom. Any day now a ruling from the Michigan Supreme Court could put her back in a prison cell.
Swain spent nearly eight years in prison for sexually assaulting her son – but was set free when he admitted the accusations were lies.
Now, because of a technicality, Lorinda may be sent back.
“It’s scary, but it’s better than being in a prison cell worrying,” said Lorinda Swain when asked how she is coping with the uncertainty. “Compared to prison this is heaven. Even with the worry I carry on a daily basis.”
Lorinda’s life has been in limbo since her first breath of freedom in the summer of 2009. She became a free woman after her son Ronnie told a Calhoun County court that he made up the story about his mom molesting him.
The judge in the case declared a mistrial, overturning the 2002 conviction. But the Calhoun County Prosecutor appealed the ruling and won. Now the case is in the hands of the Michigan Supreme Court.
The justices could rule on Swain's case at any time.
“As good as it felt to walk out of that jail cell, I knew it wasn’t completely over yet. But I was hopeful because I have good, smart people who believe in me,” Swain said.
Fighting to help Lorinda clear her name is the Michigan Innocence Clinic, led in part by Bridget Mary McCormack, who is also a law professor at the University of Michigan.
“We were able to find a couple of witnesses who could confirm her son’s plea to the world that what he said at her original trial was not true,” Professor McCormack said.
Lorinda is making the best of her freedom. While wearing an electronic tether she still holds down a job as a waitress and cherishes the moments she has with her dog and loves baking pies.
“I just did know I didn’t do this crime – I’ve paid for something that never happened. I just pray that the Supreme Court hears my case and gives me a chance and that I don’t have to go back for something that never happened,” Swain said.
The Calhoun County Prosecutor, Susan Mladenoff, did not return a call from Action News placed to her office on Friday afternoon. And Swain’s attorney says she refuses to meet with Swain or the legal team to discuss the case.
Professor McCormack believes Mladenoff wants to overturn the ruling for a mistrial because she doesn’t think it’s fair for a witness to change their story after the trial wraps up.
As for why Swain’s son lied in the first place – Swain says her son, Ronnie Swain, 23, was trying to protect himself after he molested a little girl. Swain says Ronnie was told he had to make up a lie about his mother to make himself appear a victim otherwise he would be sent to prison.
Action News spoke with Ronnie. He says he regrets the lie and will continue to fight on his mother’s behalf.
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