Cheers erupted in a Detroit courtroom Thursday when a judge tossed out murder convictions against two brothers who served more the 25 years in prison.
The Detroit Free Press reported that Thomas Highers and his brother Raymond, both now in their 40s, hugged each other when the judge ruled that new witnesses to a 1987 killing offered "credible and reliable" evidence.
The report said that the brothers, admitted drug users in the Detroit neighborhood, denied killing Robert Karey at his home where he would deal marijuana.
There are a number of reasons the new witnesses took so long to come forward, the report said. One is that they were concerned about their safety if they went to police, the lawyer for the brothers said.
Prosecutors, who called the new witnesses liars during the hearing, will likely appeal the judge’s decision, the paper reported.
Ana Quiroz, the assistant prosecutor, said some of the details described by the new witnesses did not correspond to earlier established evidence.
One new key piece of evidence is that the witnesses described the alleged gunmen as black, while the brothers are white.
The paper reported that they were not immediately freed after the ruling due to the possibility of an appeal. Prosecutors may seek a new trial for the brothers.