Walter Forbes Served Nearly 40 Years In Prison But Is Now Free After Witness Recants Story

In 1982 Walter Forbes was a young Black college student who tried to intervene between two groups fighting outside of a bar in Michigan. One of the men involved namely Dennis Hall didn’t appreciate the peaceful gesture and retaliated the next day by shooting Forbes four times. Shortly after that shooting the gunman died in a “arson fire” which resulted in Walter Forbes, receiving a life long sentence to prison without parole. The deceased fiance’ and child were both present during the fire but were able to escape. Investigators recovered evidence that included a “blue gasoline container” and other materials from the buildings first floor. Forbes was unaware of the incident and said he learned that Dennis had died via a morning radio show and was concerned about being accused of the incident and thought “some way they’re going to try to frame this on me, that thought went through my mind.” An assumption that devastatingly came to fruition after the surviving mother (Annice Kennebrew) came forward three months later and stated that she’d witnessed Forbes and a duo of accomplices carrying/pouring red gasoline canisters around their building. The container located at the scene was blue and not red. Forbes was the only man convicted of the death. The jury only listened to part of the presented evidence which was about someone who had a positive stake in the fire. Someone called police (anonymously) four days later to inform them that the landlord (David Jones) who’d recently insured the property was responsible for the blaze. Jones (landlord) ended up dying before the “Michigan Innocence Clinic” could take up the case in 2010. The clinic was comprised of lawyers and students who were perplexed by Forbes being convicted based on a single witness. A witness who later confessed to lying claiming she was coerced by “two men” who had “threatened to kill my children, parents, siblings, and me if I did not report to the police and testify at that trial that I saw Walter and the other two men set the fire” according to a 2017 Kennebrew county affidavit. She went on to say “Everything I told police, and everything I testified to at trial were relating to my witnessing of the fire was a fabrication. As far as I know, Walter had nothing to do with it. Forbes was released on November 20, after serving almost 4 decades behind bars and said he plans to partner with prison reform agencies while describing his newfound freedom as a “vision unfold” @CNN. He also expressed forgiveness saying “I don’t hold any bitterness against her and I forgive her because she was a victim also. Is he resilient or what?

Source: Junfu Han, Detroit Free Press


Published by