WATCH: Wayne County man wrongfully imprisoned for 26 years released

Wayne County man wrongfully imprisoned for 26 years released
Posted at 11:25 AM, Feb 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-04 13:11:03-05

(WXYZ) — Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced a grant of relief for a prisoner who was convicted in 1994.

Larry Smith was 18 years old when he was convicted of first degree murder and felony firearm on Nov. 29, 1994.

Prosecutors say that on March 24, 1994, it was alleged that Smith killed Kenneth Hayes. During the trial, there was no one that testified that they saw the shooter's face.

The only eyewitness identification testimony regarding Smith as the shooter was based on gait and body shape of a person running away from the scene. Prosecutors say that there was never any testimony that had established that Smith had a distinctive gait or body shape.

Additionally, there was no conclusive forensic evidence that linked Smith to the case.

Prosecutors say there was testimony from a jail house informant claiming that Smith had confessed the murder to him.

However, his information was later discredited because it may have been fabricated in order to obtain police favors in his case. Smith denied making any confessions and always maintained his innocence.

As a result of the extensive investigation into the case, the WCPO's Conviction Integrity Unit requested that the court dismiss all charges against Smith.

“After a thorough review of the investigation and evidence in this case we have determined that Mr. Smith certainly is entitled to a new trial," Worthy said in a press release. “We found that the Detroit Police Department’s informant was unreliable as well as the testimony of a key witness. There were other issues as well. While we cannot state that this is an exoneration, we are very certain that the trialprocess was not just.”

"After 26 years of wrongful imprisonment, justice has finally been done, due to the incredible work of the Conviction Integrity Unit. Larry finally has his life back," Smith's Attorney Mary Owens said.