The Flint Journal



Swartz Creek, MI woman pleads husband's innocence in 1986 murder; works to free him
by Shannon Murphy | The Flint Journal
Friday September 05, 2008, 10:00 PM

Amiko Kensu has been playing the waiting game for years.

Now she's hoping the wait will end in her husband's release from prison -- or at least a new trial in the murder of the son of the mayor of Croswell, north of Port Huron.

Burton native Temujin Kensu, formerly known as Fred Freeman, has been in prison for more than 20 years, convicted of the 1986 murder of Scott Macklem in Port Huron.

A group of volunteers has been working to prove Kensu's innocence.

Now, his fate is in the hands of U.S. District Court Judge Denise Hood, who's reviewing a filing that contends Temujin Kensu's constitutional rights were violated with his arrest and conviction. State officials say Kensu was rightfully convicted.

"He's always hopeful," said Amiko Kensu, who lives in Swartz Creek. "It's pretty amazing. He manages to keep himself up."

During Temujin's Kensu 1987 trial, prosecutors claimed that Kensu flew from Escanaba and shot Macklem in the parking lot of St. Clair County Community College, before flying back to Escanaba.

Police and prosecutors pointed to jealousy as a motive, saying Kensu killed Macklem because he was engaged to Kensu's ex-girlfriend.

It is unknown when Hood could make a decision on Kensu's case. The state has asked Hood to recuse herself from the case because the former prosecutor on the case, Robert Cleland, is now a federal judge in her court. That request is still pending.

"We continue to feel that he was rightfully convicted from the start," said John Sellek, a spokesman for the state attorney general's office.

Amiko Kensu has been working on her husband's case with a group of volunteers, including a television news reporter and a former Port Huron police lieutenant.

"The way I understand it, this is his last chance at getting a favorable ruling," said Herbert Welser, a former Port Huron police lieutenant, now a private investigator.

Welser heard about someone talking about the case last year and remembered the shooting from when he was an officer in the traffic bureau.

He has been reviewing reports and evidence for several months and is convinced Kensu was wrongly convicted.

"Politics plays a large part in this," Welser said, adding he thinks people are embarrassed to admit they may have been wrong and he believes they don't want to upset those involved in the case.

The Port Huron police have not reopened the case. Capt. Jim Jones said if evidence was presented to the department showing the case should be reopened, they would consult with the prosecutor's office.

Kensu's supporters say there is plenty of evidence that points to his innocence, including:
  • Witnesses saying Kensu was in Escanaba on Nov. 5, 1986, the day of the murder. Prosecutors on the case said Kensu could have chartered a plane to Port Huron, shot Macklem and flew back, although no concrete evidence of that happening was introduced.
  • There are questions of whether Kensu's defense attorney was using drugs during the trial. The attorney, who was later disbarred for cocaine use, denies using drugs during Kensu's case.
  • Investigators say there is new evidence that links someone else to the murder.
Amiko Kensu said it's been hard seeing her husband's appeals denied and him remaining in prison.

She's known her husband since 1979, when he was a teenager using a local skatepark where she worked. When she first started corresponding with him in prison, she said she thought he was guilty.

"The very first letter I wrote him, I said 'Don't expect me to feel sorry for you,'" she said.

He told her to read the case and once she did, her doubts about his innocence disappeared, she said.

"I came back and said, 'you didn't do this,'" she said. "I become more shocked and more angry (as new evidence surfaces). If the motion is denied, we'll keep looking for new evidence."

For more information, see Temujin Kensu's profile at Injusticebusters.

Innocent Imprisoned
Truth in Justice