Trending Topics

‘Relied On Coached False Evidence’: Detroit Man Says Police ‘Knowingly Manipulated’ Witness Statements to Frame Him for the Murder of a Baby and 10-Year-Old Child

A man wrongfully imprisoned for 16 years for a gruesome murder says his conviction happened because police manipulated and falsified evidence that ultimately led to his incarceration.

Kenneth Nixon was supposed to spend life in prison after he was found guilty in 2005 of killing a 1-year-old and a 10-year-old in a house fire in Detroit. He was only 18 at the time. He even told the judge during his sentencing that he was “about to sentence an innocent man in prison.”

Kenneth Nixon (arms raised) is suing the city of Detroit and some police detectives for framing him for the murder of two children in 2005 which landed him in prison for 16 years. (Photo: WMU-Cooley Innocence Project)

Thanks to the work of criminal justice activists, Nixon didn’t spend life in prison. After the Cooley Law Innocence Project partnered with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office Conviction Integrity Unit to reopen an investigation into his case in 2021, a judge dismissed his charges and vacated his sentence once it was discovered that he received an unfair trial.

Now, the exonerated 37-year-old seeks legal retribution to right the wrongs he suffered. Nixon is suing the city of Detroit and some city police officials for their part in fabricating evidence in his case and framing him for the arson-murder.

During his trial, authorities relied on the testimony of the 13-year-old sibling of the two children killed in that fire. The teen told jurors that Nixon was at the scene of the crime, but he gave conflicting accounts of what happened that night, including where he was in the house and if he saw Nixon throw a Molotov cocktail at the home.

Additionally, in exchange for leniency, a jail informant told investigators that Nixon admitted to the arson even though the informant only saw news coverage of the case.

Prosecutors were skeptical of the testimonies at the time.

Against those testimonies, the accounts of three witnesses who saw Nixon that night and maintained his innocence were not enough to vindicate him.

Nixon’s girlfriend was even with him the entire night but reportedly could not testify as a co-defendant. The boyfriend of the mother whose children died and Nixon’s girlfriend once had an affair and the children’s family believed Nixon started the fire out of revenge.

The judge who vacated Nixon’s sentence said of the 13-year-old’s testimony, “The statements and testimony by this key witness were inconsistent to support what is basically the sole identification of Mr. Nixon.”

In his lawsuit obtained by Atlanta Black Star, Nixon claims that the detectives who investigated the incident “knowingly manipulated and then relied on obviously coached false evidence from the 13-year-old brother of two of the victims to arrest Mr. Nixon.”

The suit also alleges that the officers “coerced a jailhouse informant to give fabricated testimony and then deliberately concealed from both the prosecution on and defense the manner in which that false evidence was created.”

Nixon also passed a polygraph test, according to the suit, but investigators submitted that he failed.

Nixon seeks compensatory and punitive damages and calls for a thorough reform within the city’s police department to rectify its unlawful practices and interrogations. Neither the city nor the police force has yet to respond to the suit.

Nixon is a father of two and the President of the Organization of Exonerees, which advocates on behalf of innocent persons who are or have been wrongfully convicted of crimes.

He’s currently studying political science at Wayne State University.

Back to top