7th grade school project brings recently exonerated Darrel Siggers to Jackson

JACKSON HOLE, WYO — Angel, Alexandra, and Andrew are ‘Combating the Silence’ around wrongful incarceration.

As part of a school project, these 7th graders invited Darrell Siggers and Bill Branham to speak in Jackson.

Siggers was wrongfully incarcerated for 34 years after receiving a life sentence for murder in 1984 in Wayne County, Michigan. He was recently exonerated in 2018.

Branham is the cofounder of Proving Innocence—an organization dedicated to freeing innocent men and women who are wrongfully convicted and imprisoned.

Hear these inspiring stories at Teton County Library tonight, Monday, May 20, from 6:00-7:30pm.

More on Siggers (from Mugshots.com)

Darrell Siggers, 54, has been exonerated of the 1984 murder of Robert Montgomery on Philip Street in Detroit. He was officially cleared of the crime on Friday, October 19, 2018, after Wayne County prosecutors announced they would drop all charges against him. Siggers had been sentenced to life in prison and he spent 34 years behind bars.

Darrel Siggers (Courtesy)

Siggers always maintained his innocence and unsuccessfully filed numerous appeals over the years. His situation did not change until his attorney from the State Appellate Defenders Office and other activists began to uncovered information that the Detroit police crime lab technician who presented ballistics evidence tying bullets from the scene to a gun recovered from Siggers’ home wasn’t really a firearms expert. In fact, that technician, Sgt. Claude Houseworth, “wasn’t a crime lab examiner at all” as he testified at Siggers trial.

Siggers’ legal team was able to show that the bullet evidence was completely discredited by very credible former Michigan State Police bullet experts.David Townshend, a retired Michigan State Trooper with more than 20 years of experience in the Michigan State Police Crime Laboratory Firearms Identification Unit, conducted an independent review and found Houseworth’s conclusions were ‘erroneous,’ ‘unbelievable’ and ‘highly improbable.’ Similarly, David Balash, a retired Michigan State Police firearms examiner, also reviewed the ballistics evidence presented at Siggers’ trial and determined that Houseworth’s testimony was “both confusing and at times totally inaccurate.”

Further testing on the collected ballistics evidence could not be completed because Detroit police destroyed the evidence used against Siggers in 2003. Five years later, the Detroit Police crime lab was shut down after a State Police audit found a high error rate in firearms cases.

With the evidence of Siggers’ likely innocence mounting, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office Conviction Integrity Office began its own investigation and reviewed the case. Based on its findings, the CIU recommended that Siggers’ conviction be overturned.

Wayne County prosecutors agreed to vacate Siggers’ conviction because the ballistics evidence and witness testimony presented at his trial have since been disputed. Siggers’ case represents the third full exoneration for the Conviction Integrity Unit, and he is the 19th person to be exonerated in Michigan since 2017.

Siggers is to receive a reported $2 million for his time served behind bars.

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