DETROIT – A Detroit man who spent 25 years in prison for murder before proving he was the victim of police misconduct was awarded $1 million on Wednesday under a state program that compensates the wrongly convicted.
Desmond Ricks was released from prison last May when new tests showed that bullets recovered from the body didn't match the gun that was presented as the weapon in the slaying. He and the Innocence Clinic at University of Michigan law school made a remarkable claim, accusing Detroit police of switching bullets.
The Michigan attorney general's office agreed that Ricks qualified for compensation. Judge Michael Talbot signed off on the payment, although Ricks believes he's entitled to an additional $216,000 and plans to appeal.
Ricks, 51, told The Associated Press that he feels "blessed" to be free and plans to use some of the money to start a construction business and help boys who live without fathers.
"I love to fix things: sand wood, lay carpet, pour cement," Ricks said. "I never had a male figure in my life. I want to teach kids you don't have to go through bad things to learn that some things are bad for you. My mission is to leave the world a better place than I found it."
Separately, Ricks is suing two retired Detroit police officers who were involved in the 1992 murder investigation. He alleges that he was intentionally framed for a fatal shooting outside a restaurant.
Ricks' lawyer, Wolfgang Mueller, said yet another round of tests showed bullets taken from the victim didn't match a gun that belonged to Ricks' mother. Police seized that gun and said it was used to kill Gerry Bennett.
The prosecutor's office has said too many years have passed for a criminal investigation of the officers.