Minnesota man enjoys first day of freedom after judge tosses out conviction
For nearly 20 years, Marvin Haynes was behind bars in Minnesota state prisons for a 2004 conviction in a robbery turned murder at a Minneapolis florist shop.
On Monday, a Hennepin County judge vacated Haynes’ conviction after reviewing the case.
“I’m blessed, it feels so good to get my life back,” Haynes said.
In his first full day of freedom, Haynes spent time with his family while also trying to get his social security card and driver’s license.
“I just want to go live a simple life, and cherish every moment,” Haynes said as he works to find a job.
Haynes was 16 years old when he was arrested.
“We were taught to believe the police and believe into the justice system, so when we see someone go to jail, we normally think, ‘well they did a crime, they are supposed to be there,’” Haynes said. “With my situation, that wasn’t the truth, I was there wrongfully.”
With the help of the Great North Innocence Project, Haynes’ case was reviewed this fall during a hearing before Hennepin County Judge William Koch.
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“I know he [Judge Koch] recognized I was an innocent man, that’s why I’m in this position now,” Haynes said. “I know when he saw what they done to me, he was going to administrate justice.”
In a court filing Monday, Judge Koch vacated the conviction finding in a holding that “…absent introduction of the unconstitutional eyewitness evidence, it is doubtful there would have been sufficient evidence to sustain a conviction.”
Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty pointed out flaws she felt with the case when speaking Monday at a press conference at the Government Center.
“Police used coercive and discredited tactics to get witnesses to identify Mr. Haynes,” Moriarty said.
According to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, 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.
The immediate family of the victim, Harry “Randy” Sherer, have since passed away in the years since the trial, according to prosecutors.
Minnesota law allows former prisoners who have been exonerated by a court to seek possible compensation for their time behind bars.
There is a panel that reviews the case and any final compensation would have to be approved by the Legislature.
Haynes’ attorney, Andrew Markquart, wrote to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, “We have been focused on getting Marvin exonerated and are only now moving onto the next steps, but I fully anticipate Marvin will seek compensation.”
In the meantime, there has been a fundraiser set up by the staff at the Great North Innocence Project to help Haynes with expenses.