Lansing State Journal


Dunnings requests new trial in LCC killing
Video may show man convicted in homicide was not at the scene

September 22, 2007
Kevin Grasha
Lansing State Journal

Claude McCollum may not have been in the classroom where a Lansing Community College professor was raped and killed in the early morning of Jan. 23, 2005, court documents show.

A videotape is among new evidence that McCollum’s attorney said will likely show he is not responsible for Carolyn Kronenberg’s death.

Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III and Peter Ellenson, who is handling McCollum’s appeal, filed a motion Friday morning with the Michigan Court of Appeals, asking for a new trial.

Neither Dunnings nor Ellenson would talk about the new information.

“The prosecution is in possession of a videotape recording of Mr. McCollum, which may arguably show him to be in a location other than the crime scene on the morning of Ms. Kronenberg’s murder,” according to the joint motion for a new trial.

McCollum, 30, a drifter with no fixed address who had been taking classes at LCC, was convicted of murder and first-degree criminal sexual conduct last year. He is now serving a life sentence. LCC’s police department was the lead agency that initially investigated the Kronenberg case.

The court documents filed Friday also say that police investigating a recent series of Lansing homicides have discovered evidence indicating “someone other than Claude McCollum may be responsible for” Kronenberg’s death.

Lansing police have linked Matthew E. Macon, 28, to five recent slayings, as well as an unsolved 2004 homicide. He was charged with the death of one woman and an assault on another. Charges are pending in the other homicides.
A judge has issued a gag order regarding Macon’s case.

Dunnings said Friday he stands by his decision to originally prosecute McCollum:

“If somebody asked me, ‘Given everything you know today, would you try Mr. McCollum again?’ I would say, ‘Yes.’”

Dunnings added that a jury, not the prosecutor, should decide the quality of the evidence against McCollum.
“Given that we have (new information), I think he’s entitled to a new trial,” he said.

Attorney Hugh Clarke Jr., who is representing McCollum’s family, said McCollum found out Friday about the new developments.

“I understand he was ecstatic, and he feels his prayers have been answered,” Clarke said.

McCollum’s brother, LaRon McCollum, said Friday he is cautiously optimistic.

“I’m on pins and needles,” the 31-year-old Lansing man said. “It’s not over with, but it definitely seems to be going in the right direction.”

For his own safety, McCollum has been moved to the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia, where he is in protective custody, isolated from other prisoners, said Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan.

Marlan said the transfer happened Sept. 13, two days after Dunnings announced he was reopening the case. McCollum originally was being held at the St. Louis Correctional Facility in Gratiot County.

Dunnings said he reopened the case after Michigan State Police detectives gave him new information. Days later, other new information came to light, he said.

Dunnings and Ellenson then requested that the oral arguments before the Court of Appeals, scheduled for Oct. 2, be postponed while the investigation was conducted.

“To me, there was no point in putting more information before the Court of Appeals,” Dunnings said. “The information clearly warranted Mr. McCollum having a new trial.”

McCollum was convicted largely based on an interview with detectives two days after Kronenberg was found dead. During the Jan. 25, 2005, interview, McCollum described a series of hypothetical scenarios, including how he could have committed the crime if he had been sleepwalking.

A forensic scientist testified at McCollum’s trial that DNA found underneath Kronenberg’s fingernails did not match McCollum’s, but instead came from an unknown male.

Another expert testified that a single fiber found on McCollum’s clothing may have come from Kronenberg’s sweater.

McCollum told the Lansing State Journal in a Sept. 7 prison interview that he was wrongfully convicted, saying the statements he made to detectives were taken out of context.

Ellenson said: “I think, in the end, the person who committed this crime will be convicted of the crime, and there will be justice for the victim and Claude McCollum.”

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


Exonerations
Police/Prosecutor Misconduct

Truth in Justice