Defense attorney for Devin Plummer, Ray Anthony Paige, speaks to the press outside 23rd District Court in Taylor, Michigan on Tuesday, August 14, 2007. (Photo: Abayomi Azikiwe).
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
Attempted racist frame-up halted by family and community support
By Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor
Pan-African News Wire
Trumped-up charges against two African-American teenagers bound for college, were dropped today in Taylor, Michigan.
The charges of first-degree murder against Devin Plummer and accesory to murder leveled against Franklin Smith, resulted from their false arrest in the aftermath of the shooting death of a white woman outside an apartment on July 30.
They were arrested without probable cause. The Plummer-Smith Defense Committee was organized to fight for justice for the African-American youth. The Committee held demonstrations outside of 23rd District Court on Goddard Road in Taylor, a suburb of Detroit.
Devin Plummer, who was released today, was beaten while in police custody. Franklin Smith, who was released on personal bond after the failed preliminary hearing on Monday, along with Plummer, have repeatedly proclaimed their innocence.
TAYLOR -- A judge has freed two college-bound black teens charged with the murder of a white woman, in a case that ignited claims of racism.
During an emergency hearing Wednesday, Taylor District Judge William Sutherland dropped all charges against Devin Plummer, 17, and Franklin Smith, 18, in the July 31 killing of Wendy Meinke, 38, a Taylor single mother of six children.
Sutherland freed both after ballistics tests showed no gunpowder residue on Plummer, who was charged with murder in the case.
The surprise ruling comes just days after family members and black activists accused the Taylor Police Department, which has no African-American officers, of racism in the case.
Police and prosecutors defended the arrests, saying multiple witnesses fingered Plummer as one of two unrelated gunmen who shot at Meinke during a melee outside Coppertree Apartments that began when her son argued with a group.
Just this week, Taylor Police Cmdr. Don Helvey called it one of the most confusing cases of his career. A 14-year-old boy also was jailed for the killing, but apparently was not involved with Plummer or Smith.
"In 20 years of investigating numerous homicides, I've never seen anything like this," Helvey said this week. "It's unbelievable. Stories keep changing. I know there are some who are suspicious of the police, but we are trying our best with the information that we have."
Plummer, a 2007 graduate of Taylor's Kennedy High School, is an incoming freshman at Kentucky State University. He was expecting to catch a bus to Louisville, where he planned to live with his brother, the morning after the shooting.
Smith is a freshman at Rock Valley College in Rockford, Ill., where he has a scholarship to play basketball.
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