The leopard cannot change its spots, nor can the tiger change its stripes
Has Berrien County really changed? Only time will tell.
On Friday, Berrien County Circuit Court Judge Angela M. Pasula set aside the conviction of Corey Quentin McCall, who was wrongfully convicted of three counts of murder and one count of attempted murder.
On March 26, 2005, four armed men broke into a house and killed three people and shot a surviving victim during a robbery in Benton Harbor. The surviving victim eventually identified McCall as one of the gunmen after seeing his profile during the robbery for one-to-two seconds, even though the defendant was shopping in Walmart at the time.
McCall was just 23 when sentenced to serve life without parole.
Please don’t get me wrong. The fact that McCall, now 39, has been freed is wonderful. And highest praise goes to both the Michigan Attorney General’s new Conviction Integrity Unit and the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project. God bless these people who are working night and day to prove innocence.
Because of their hard work, new evidence was found proving Mr. McCall’s innocence. With the help of the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety, a phone was forensically analyzed that corroborated the new evidence. The Benton Harbor Department and the Berrien County Prosecutor's Office, we are told, collaborated with CIU special agents to review the previous investigation and pursue new leads.
In reading weekend news accounts, these quotes raise eyebrows.
Attorney General Dana Nessel: "The exoneration of Mr. McCall is an example of the importance of a collaboration between multiple agencies. When I established the CIU, I envisioned our office working side-by-side with local prosecutors and police departments to uncover the truth.”
Berrien County Prosecutor Steven Pierangeli : "It goes without saying that it is tragic Mr. McCall has served any time in prison for this crime. Prosecutors in Berrien County make every effort to prevent this from occurring. Nothing can restore his lost youth or return to him the years he spent in prison."
Keep in mind:
-This is the same police department in Benton Harbor whose investigation led to McCall’s questionable arrest and conviction, as well as many others over the years.
-This is the same Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office that authorized the warrant and obtained the conviction, not only of this innocent man, but others in the past.
-This is the same Berrien County courtroom where McCall was found guilty and sentenced to life without parole...a courtroom with a long and dark history.
The exoneration deserves every headline. Mr. McCall deserves every apology.
But, all this business about Benton Harbor and Berrien County loving justice and moving mountains to overturn and avoid wrongful convictions would be a radical departure from history.