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Michigan Brothers Exonerated After Role in Murder Found Bogus

Two brothers have been exonerated and released from a Michigan prison after 25 years, the New York Times reports. George and Melvin DeJesus were implicated in the 1995 rape and murder of their neighbor Margaret Midkiff by the actual perpetrator of the crime, Brandon Gohagen. Gohagen, whose DNA was the only profile found at the crime scene, said that the DeJesus brothers forced him to rape Midkiff and then killed her. He testified in exchange for a deal from prosecutors, who let him escape a mandatory life sentence for the crime. The brothers claimed they were at a party when the crime occurred, which was later corroborated, but they were not believed. In 1997, That year, they were sentenced to life without parole while Gohagen was sentenced to 35 to 80 years in prison for second-degree murder and first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

In 2016, while serving his prison term, Gohagen was implicated through a DNA match in the 1994 killing of Rosalia Brantley. Brantley's murder had also occurred in Pontiac, Mi., under similar circumstances about eleven months before Midkiff was killed. The crime scenes were around three miles apart. In 2017, Gohagen was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder of Brantley. The decision to release the DeJesus brothers came after a review by the Michigan Attorney General's Conviction Integrity Unit, which found 12 women who had been emotionally, physically, and sexually abused by Gohagen in the 1990s, demolishing his claim that the DeJesus brothers had forced him to rape Midkiff. The Cooley Innocence Project at Western Michigan University and the University of Michigan Innocence Clinic advocated for the review for several years before the attorney general conducted it.

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