'A long time coming': Pontiac brothers exonerated for murder after 25 years

DeJesus brothers
Posted at 4:22 PM, Mar 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-22 18:11:53-04

PONTIAC, Mich. (WXYZ) — Imprisoned by the state for a quarter century for murders they did not commit, two brothers from Pontiac are now free men.

Their exonerations have come after a lengthy fight to prove their innocence in a brutal murder.

The DeJesus brother have prayed for this day to come for roughly two and a half decades. The Conviction Integrity Unit with the Michigan’s Attorney General’s Office and the Michigan Innocence Clinic now have proved their innocence.

On Tuesday, there was an emotional celebration for George and Melvin DeJesus and their families. The moment came after a six-year process to uncover new evidence in their cases.

“This is the best day of my life. We are extremely happy and overwhelmed. It’s been a long time coming and it took a lot of help and people.” George DeJesus said.

Investigator said the two brothers were tied to a Pontiac killing of a woman in July 1995 after she was found naked and tied up in her basement. A team of investigators says another man, Brandon Gohagen, confessed to a sexual assault related to the murder, then cut a deal to blame the killing on the brothers.

The court records show both brothers had an alibi at the time, but nonetheless were found guilty.

“The only scientific evidence at the scene belonged to Brandon Gohagen. Advanced DNA, there was nothing that connected George or Melvin to that scene.” Assistant Attorney General Robyn Frankel said.

She added that there was also another break in the case.

“The prime witness was 20 years later convicted of a very similar event and sentenced to 20 years in prison. When we looked at the two cases and how similar they were, we started pulling at the thread.” Frankel said.

She says more than a dozen women were also found to have been sexually assaulted by Gohagen, and his credibility unraveled as the only witness in the case against the brothers.

“I want to thank the Innocence Project, Cooley, U of M, Innocence Clinic, the CIU and Dana Nessel.” George DeJesus said.

These cases mark the third and fourth wrongful convictions overturned by the AG’s Conviction Integrity Unit. They continue to review other cases with assistance from the Innocence Clinic.