Judge overturns conviction of man who was charged for 2004 death
A man who was found guilty of murder is now free after a judge overturned his conviction.
On Monday, members of the Great North Innocence Project announced Marvin Haynes, who was convicted of killing 55-year-old Randy Sherer, has been exonerated after spending roughly 20 years in the Stillwater prison for charges of first-degree murder and second-degree assault. He was sentenced to life in prison in 2005.
According to the order, which was signed Monday morning by Judge William Koch, Haynes is to be “promptly released” from the Stillwater prison.
A 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS photographer captured footage of Haynes being reunited with family members late Monday morning. You can watch the full reunion in the clip below.
Haynes spoke outside the prison after he was let out, surrounded by family members.
“I’m innocent,” he said, thanking everybody who supported him and adding that he was “so happy.”
When asked what he was going to do first, he replied, “I’m going to see my mom.”
A spokesperson for Amy Klobuchar, who prosecuted the case, sent the following statement to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS in response to the news:
“The Senator respects the judicial process. She has worked closely with the Innocence Project on reforms and has long supported their work, and will continue to do so.”
Mary Moriarty, the Hennepin County Attorney, issued the following statement after the order was signed.
“Almost 20 years ago, a terrible injustice occurred when the state prosecuted Marvin Haynes. We inflicted harm on Mr. Haynes and his family, and also on Harry Sherer, the victim, his family, and the community. We cannot undo the trauma experienced by those impacted by this prosecution, but today we have taken a step toward righting this wrong.
Mr. Haynes’ conviction rested almost exclusively on eyewitness identification. There was no forensic evidence, such as fingerprints or DNA. There was no video connecting him to the crime. The murder weapon was never recovered. That should have made any prosecutor hesitant to bring charges because eyewitness identifications are often unreliable and one of the leading causes of wrongful convictions. Nationally, nearly 28% of exonerations involve eyewitness identification. Mr. Haynes’ conviction is now one of them.
I am proud to lead the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office and the public should know we seek to do the right thing every day. Doing the right thing sometimes means we must seek to undo the harms of the past, not defend them. And that is what we have tried to do today. It is not easy to admit and correct our wrongs. But it is necessary.
To Marvin Haynes: You lost the opportunity to graduate from high school, attend prom, have relationships, attend weddings and funerals, and be with your family during holidays. For that, I am so deeply sorry. And for that, I commit to correcting other injustices and to making sure that we do not participate in making our own.”Mary Moriarty
Haynes, who turned 36 last week, was 16 years old at the time he was charged. According to officials with Great North Innocence Project, Haynes was told the conviction would be overturned on his birthday.
Andrew Marquart, who is listed as being Haynes’ attorney, issued the following statement on Monday when the overturn was announced:
“We are delighted to see Marvin finally regain his freedom and for the truth of his innocence to win out. We are thankful to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office for recognizing the strength of Marvin’s claim and for demonstrating the most noble ideals of the prosecutor in recognizing past errors and prioritizing justice as the highest value.”Andrew Marquart
As previously reported, an evidence hearing was previously scheduled to be held on the afternoon of Dec. 12.
A news conference held by Moriarty and Haynes’ family members was held at 12 p.m. Monday. You can watch the full news conference below.
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS will continue to update this article as information becomes available.