Private investigator reveals how he got wrongful convictions overturned

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Television veteran journalist Scott Lewis left the life of an investigative journalist to become a private investigator back in 2013.  

From surveillance to helping in criminal investigations, Lewis watched a case of a 35-year-old mother who was murdered unfold. 

"How can two guys be in prison on this thin evidence?" he said. "It just didn't make sense to me and I was kind of horrified. These were two guys who are going to die in prison if something or somebody didn't intervene." 

And so he did. 

Lisa Kindred had been killed in her car and two men were arrested -- Justly Johnson and Kendrick Scott spent 20 years in jail. Lewis joined with the Innocence Clinic to find out what really happened.  

That's when he realized there was someone else in the car back in the 10-year-old murder case. Lisa Kindred was killed while her 8-year old-son was in the car.  Lewis went to work to find the now young adult to see what he could find.  

FOX 2: "You contacted him. What did he say?"

"Mr. Lewis, I will never forget the face of that man who shot my mother," Lewis said. "He didn't say those men, he said 'that man.' And he said if you can show me a picture of the guys in prison I can tell you if they're the guys."

A photo lineup was put together by the Innocence Clinic. Johnson and Scott were in the lineup, and it wasn't them. The young man then described the man who he says killed his mother.  

"He had a very broad nose, very bushy beard, and a shaved head. And it looked nothing like Johnson or Scott," he said.

The search is still on for the real killer, but just last week Johnson and Scott were freed. Two innocent men who spent two decades for a crime they didn't commit, finally free. 

But how many more men like them are locked up wrongly? How widespread are these wrongful convictions?

"I think the number is higher than we would like to believe and that is not acceptable in the United States of America," Lewis said. "Part of the problem is we don't have a good system. If you were poor especially if you were poor and black in the city like Detroit, with a high crime rate and the pressure to solve crimes, you don't get the same kind of justice that somebody with money does."

Lewis is talking about men like Mubarez Ahmed. He was finally exonerated in October for a double murder he swore he never committed. After 16 years in jail, Lewis, along with attorneys, found enough evidence to set him free.  

"They investigated the heck out of it," Lewis said. "They re-investigated all the work we did and they came to the conclusion that he was factually innocent and had nothing to do with the murder and they went into court and asked the judge to reverse the charges - and he did. Eventually Mubarez Ahmed walked free."

Police corruption, bad scientific evidence and fake eyewitness testimony are the reasons this happens. 
FOX 2: "How hard is it to overturn a conviction in Michigan?"

"It is incredibly difficult to reverse a conviction in Michigan. It is really hard," Lewis said. "Even if you have evidence that there is this much evidence that he's innocent and this much that they are guilty, the courts do not look at that. You have to find an angle to work, something to get that case back in court."
Because of Lewis' work, three men are now free that should have been free all along. Lewis said he has been inundated with requests for other cases but keep in mind, his full-time job is investigating the needs of clients. The work he did for those three men; he did pro-bono.

To learn more about Scott Lewis CLICK HERE for his Facebook page.