Detroit man exonerated of manslaughter after judge cites detective's history of misconduct

Investigator ‘has a history of falsifying confessions and lying under oath,’ judge says

click to enlarge Mark Craighead - Michigan Innocence Clinic
Michigan Innocence Clinic
Mark Craighead
Mark Craighead has maintained his innocence since he was convicted of fatally shooting his friend four times in the abdomen in June 2002.

On Friday, the 63-year-old Detroit man was exonerated of the manslaughter conviction after the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office opted against a retrial.

Craighhead served more than seven years in prison for the 1997 homicide before he was paroled in 2009.

While in prison, Craighead appealed the case several times, alleging “evidence of police misconduct” by the Detroit Police Department’s Homicide Unit. He insisted he couldn't have been the killer because he was working at Sam’s Club when his friend Chole Pruett was fatally shot inside his Detroit apartment.

After his release from prison, with the help of the Michigan Innocence Clinic, Craighead sought a new trial to clear his name.

Central to the case was a confession obtained by Barbara Simon, a now-retired Detroit police homicide investigator with a history of misconduct.

In February 2021, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Shannon Walker granted Craighead a new trial, saying Simon “has a history of falsifying confessions and lying under oath.”

At a hearing before Walker on Friday, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy dropped the case but did not concede that Craighead was innocent.

“The homicide occurred 25 years ago and Mr. Craighead served his sentence in the case,” Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office spokeswoman Maria Miller tells Metro Times. “The decision not to re-try the case does not reflect the merits of the case. It is based upon the age of the case, and the ruling of the court that makes it impractical to re-try. As a result WCPO agreed the dismissal which was granted by the court today.”

Metro Times couldn’t reach Craighead or the Michigan Innocence Clinic for comment.

Last month, Desmond Ricks received a $7.5 million settlement with the city of Detroit after he filed a lawsuit claiming Detroit police framed him for a murder he didn’t commit. Ricks spent 25 years in prison before his conviction was overturned in 2017, based on ballistic evidence that showed police mishandled critical evidence.

In the past year, the city has shelled out nearly $25 million in taxpayer money to settle three wrongful conviction lawsuits. Another 16 wrongful conviction lawsuits are still wending their way through the judicial system.

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About The Author

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist who operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker,...
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