Lansing State Journal

September 12, 2007

Prosecutor reopens case of slain LCC professor
Dunnings: New findings recently came to light

Kevin Grasha, Lansing State Journal

The investigation into the 2005 murder of a Lansing Community College professor has been reopened, Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III said Tuesday.

The announcement came days after Claude McCollum, the man convicted of raping and killing 60-year-old Carolyn Kronenberg in a classroom at the school's downtown campus, told the Lansing State Journal in a prison interview that he was wrongfully convicted.

McCollum, 30, a drifter with no fixed address who had been taking classes at LCC, is serving a life sentence at the St. Louis Correctional Facility in Gratiot County.

Dunnings said Michigan State Police detectives last week gave him new information about the case, which he then brought to the attorney handling McCollum's appeal. Dunnings would not be specific, but said it was not related to any current investigation. Since then, Dunnings said, more information has come to light.

"Whether or not I end up believing this information or not, in order for (McCollum) to have a fair hearing, the matter needs to be investigated and brought to the attention of the Court of Appeals," he said, adding:

"If somebody got wrongfully convicted, I want to be the first person to correct that."

LCC police and Michigan State Police are working with the prosecutor's office on the investigation, Dunnings said.

Macon's DNA on file
Also Tuesday, the attorney for McCollum's family said he will ask authorities to run tests comparing the DNA of Matthew E. Macon, the man police say is a serial killer, and DNA found under Kronenberg's fingernails.

A forensic scientist testified at McCollum's 2006 trial that the DNA did not match McCollum's, but instead came from an unknown male.  Macon, 28, of Lansing, has been charged with killing one woman and assaulting another. Police say they have linked him to five recent slayings, as well as an unsolved 2004 homicide.

Attorney Hugh Clarke Jr. said he intends to send a letter to the Ingham County Prosecutor's Office requesting DNA tests to see if Macon could have killed Kronenberg.

Claude McCollum
Photo by Lansing State Journal (file photo)
On the stand: Claude McCollum looks over transcripts during his 2006 trial. McCollum contends he was wrongly convicted of murdering Lansing Community College professor Carolyn Kronenberg in January 2005.
Case Timeline

• Jan. 23, 2005: Lansing Community College professor Carolyn Kronenberg, 60, is found barely alive in a classroom.

• Jan. 25, 2005: Police take Claude McCollum, then 27, into custody. A day later, he is charged with raping and killing Kronenberg.

• February 2006: A jury convicts McCollum of murder and first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

• April 2006: McCollum is sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

• Sept. 7, 2007: McCollum, in his first-ever media interview, says he is innocent and was a "scapegoat for the crime."

• Sept. 11, 2007: Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III says he has reopened the investigation into Kronenberg's death.
"It's going to answer the question one way or another," Clarke said. "Claude's family is convinced that he didn't commit the offense."

A state corrections official said Macon's DNA profile is stored by the state. Spokesman Russ Marlan said since 1990 DNA samples have been taken from anyone convicted of a felony. In 2000, Macon was convicted of larceny from a person.

State police also have DNA evidence from the 2005 case, Dunnings said.

Appeal is pending
In an interview Friday at the prison, McCollum said he had heard rumors that Macon may have killed Kronenberg, but he said he didn't want to accuse him of anything just so he could be free.

McCollum said he was wrongfully convicted based on statements he made to detectives that were taken out of context.

Two days after Kronenberg's death, detectives interrogated McCollum but never directly asked if he committed the crime.
Instead, McCollum describes a series of hypothetical situations, including how he could have committed the crime if he had been sleepwalking.

McCollum's appeal of his conviction is pending before the state Court of Appeals.

Oral arguments had been scheduled for next month, but both sides have filed a joint motion, asking the court to halt the proceedings until prosecutors conclude their investigation.

Peter Ellenson, the attorney handling McCollum's appeal, said Tuesday that the case now could proceed in a number of ways.

If prosecutors conclude definitively there is evidence exonerating McCollum, "it would be a relatively easy matter to exonerate Claude and get him out of prison," Ellenson said.

If prosecutors are not sure the evidence exonerates McCollum, Ellenson said one option could be a new trial.

"The onus is on us to take whatever steps are necessary," he said.

Contact Kevin Grasha at 267-1347 or kgrasha@lsj.com.

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