Detroit News

Thursday, November 18, 2004

DNA lawsuit instigates an outside inquiry

Special prosecutor to investigate police and prosecutor in Macomb rape case as part of federal suit.

By Tony Manolatos / The Detroit News

A special prosecutor is being appointed to probe the conduct of police and the prosecutor in the case of a man wrongfully convicted of rape, a spokesman with the Michigan Attorney General's Office confirmed Wednesday.

The probe is the latest development stemming from Ken Wyniemko's year-old federal lawsuit, which lays out evidence that suggests witnesses were coached, evidence was buried, conflicting leads were ignored and justice was forsaken for a conviction.

Wyniemko, a former Clinton Township resident and night manager at a bowling alley, was released from prison after DNA evidence cleared him in June 2003. He spent nearly nine years behind bars.

"What was done to me should never happen to anyone," said Wyniemko, 53, who lives with friends in Auburn Hills and drives an SUV a friend gave him with a personalized license plate that says "INOCNT."

Last week, as new evidence mounted in the case, the Macomb County Prosecutor's Office referred the lawsuit to the Michigan Attorney General's Office, which gave the case to the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan.

Randall Thompson, a spokesman for the attorney general, said Wednesday the association was preparing to name a special prosecutor from a local prosecutor's office to "investigate the case to determine if there was any wrongdoing."

Arguing his civil rights were violated, Wyniemko is suing Clinton Township, the detectives who put him behind bars, Thomas Ostin and Bart Marlatt, and their supervisor, Chief Alexander Ernst. The assistant prosecutor, Linda Davis, hasn't been named in the lawsuit, which doesn't seek specific damages.

Davis is now the chief judge in 41-B District Court in Mount Clemens. She declined to comment, as did Wyniemko's Bloomfield Hills attorneys, Thomas Howlett and George Googasian.

Ostin, Marlatt and Ernst, each of whom still work for the Clinton Township Police Department, declined to comment through their Troy attorney, Roger A. Smith.

"The allegations are outrageous, and they actually impugn the prosecutor in the case as much as the police officers, but all of the individuals, including the prosecutor, enjoy impeccable reputations," Smith said.

Criminal investigators were drawn to the case when Wyniemko's attorneys filed a motion Nov. 1 containing a sworn statement from a jailhouse informant who testified against Wyniemko.

Glen McCormick was staring at a life sentence, until Davis offered him a blockbuster deal.
Ken Wyniemko
Ken Wyniemko

DNA case
•The lawsuit filed on behalf of Ken Wyniemko, released from prison after spending nearly nine years behind bars for a rape and robbery he didn't commit, was filed a year ago in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

•In October, attorneys for the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the case against Clinton Township, the detectives who built the case, Bart Marlatt Thomas Ostin, and their supervisor, Chief Alexander Ernst.

•On Nov. 1, attorneys for Wyniemko filed their response, which lays out their case and includes new evidence.

•On Nov. 8, the defense filed a written response.

•After reviewing all of the arguments, U.S. District Judge Lawrence P. Zatkoff is expected to rule whether the case can proceed.

McCormick took the deal and was sentenced to a year behind bars. In exchange, he agreed to testify against Wyniemko, his cellmate.

McCormick told a jury Wyniemko confessed to the crimes. Now, he says he lied. He also says Ostin and Davis encouraged him to lie and that he knew what to say on the stand because he had access to the police report.

McCormick is in a state prison in the Upper Peninsula and could not be reached.

"What was done to me should never happen to anyone."

You can reach Tony Manolatos at (313) 222-2069 or tmanolatos@detnews.com.

Source: U.S. District Court Source: U.S. District Court


Police/Prosecutor Misconduct
Truth in Justice