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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  October 6, 2019 2:00am-3:00am PDT

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living her own reality far from the spotlight that once captured her. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline." i'm craig melvin. thank you for watching. "dateli" i'm craig melvin thank you for watching all i did was put one sentence. one sentence. >> it's not often that you get to be a hero. >> i got halfway through this and said oh my god. >> the murder happening in seconds. >> one was coming straight for me and jim with a gun leveled at all. i have never ran so fast in my life. >> the truth took decades. >> i said do you know what, give me a lie detector test. >> i never believed it for one minute, never. >> did someone have it all
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wrong? were innocent men in prison for a murder they did not commit? a 22 year mystery until face helped old friends find each other and justice. >> did you ever imagine you would cause it to be? >> never in a million years. >> together they uncovered an unbelievable truth. >> it all made sense. none of us knew what happened that night. this all made sense. >> somebody seen it. somebody knew. >> now they had to get someone to believe it. >> oh my god we're losing, oh my god we're winning. oh my god we're losing. >> we'll face whatever has to m co. >> this was it. >> this was it for sure. this w. hello and welcome to dateline. it started with a party.
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high school seniors celebrating the end of the school year and new beginnings but before the night was true one man could be dead and two others could not know it then but they would be facing a decade's long battle to prove their innocence. here's keith morrison with graduation night. >> in the suburbs outside of detroit michigan in the summer of 2009, a divorced mother of 3 named mary evans was poking around in one of her favorite places, facebook. >> you can look at what everyone is up to, where are they at today? are they successful? did they take the wrong path? >> dear mary, no idea that a little innocent poking into her own past would dredge up a shocking truth long buried. >> oh, i was stunned. it was unbelievable. >> and a nightmare's worth of terrors. >> i could have been killed that day. >> and with an unlikely band of friends old and new in a fight to right a terrible wrong. >> and then a miracle happened.
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>> but in 2009 it was just an ordinary summer day. no sign anywhere. just mary reminiscing about the old days of friends long since gone away and you know how it is, a person wonders. not such an uncommon thing among people that grew up as mary did in northeast detroit. >> it was a nice neighborhood. you could walk around the streets at 1:00 in the morning in the summer and never had to worry about anything. >> then it changed. >> oh, it definitely changed. >> yeah. >> it started going really downhill. >> but that particular summer day mary was in a mood to remember the good times, good friends and on facebook there was something called the northeast detroit alumni group. >> so what did you do in this group on facebook? >> what that was all about was being in touch with long lost
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friends. people from the neighborhood. >> including a couple of brothers, old friends from the neighborhood who she remembered did not turn out so well. >> tommy and ray. they went to prison in fact for murder. mary followed the case way back then in 1987 and remembers just how she felt when she were found guilty. >> i was shocked. you know, i was shocked to hear that. i thought no way. >> did it sound like them to you? >> no. >> anyway, there she was thinking about them again fondly so she wrote a line about missing them whenever she hears a certain song on the radio and then she sighed and pushed the send button and look out. >> people might have trouble believing that such a simple thing as posting on facebook could make whole worlds change. >> a lot of people ask well what was it? what happened? i said all i did was put one sentence. just one sentence.
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>> so she did and 500 miles away in the suburbs of washington d.c. -- >> what were you doing on facebook? just wasting time like a lot of people do. >> he grew up in detroit too but was now an international trade attorney in d.c. he and mary didn't know each other. weren't even facebook friends for that matter but both belonged to that northeast detroit group which is why that very same summer day in 2009, he just happened to see mary's post about those boys in prison for murder. that something said to the fact that they were in prison for life. every time i hear mystery by the stones, i think of those guys. >> did you know those two guys? >> no, i didn't know them. >> which should have been the end of it but something in that post tripped a wire deep in the crater of kevin's memory, that name, highers. he heard it before. he was sure of it in connection
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with a murder case way back in the late 80s and that memory lit up another one, clear as day. the memory of a bizarre story a college roommate told him one night in '93 or so. he could hardly believe it then. but now when he saw mary's post, no, it couldn't be. were those old stories somehow connected? maybe mary could tell him. >> and i sent back to her, they wouldn't happen to be in prison for killing old man bob and she got back and said yes they are for killing old man bob. >> old man bob was robert kerry. well-known drug dealer murdered at the back door of his east detroit home in 1987. kevin was already on the computer that day in 2009 so he pulled up the website and saw pictures of them and confirmed they were in prison doing life
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without parole for the murder of old man bob. it was then it hit him like a brick in the face. something about those pictures was very, very wrong. only one thing to do. kevin picked up the phone and called that old college roommate. a man he hadn't seen for at least a decade. this man. >> he said it's about old man bob and i just started freaking out like i'm not doing it. i'm not doing any of this. >> how come? >> scared. i felt scared if he was scared now, just wait. he was part of a team he wasn't sure that he wanted to belong to and the next move was his. >> and a band of friends sets out on a journey to find justice, they first need to know
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what happened the night old man bob was murdered. >> i got halfway through and just went oh my god. >> when dateline continues. y go. >> when dateline continues hed, fortified. emerge everyday with emergen-c. packed with b vitamins, electrolytes, antioxidants, plus more vitamin c than 10 oranges. why not feel this good every day? emerge and see. but since they bought their new house... which menu am i looking at here? start with "ta-paz." -oh, it's tapas. -tapas. get out of town. it's like eating dinner with your parents. sandra, are you in school? yes, i'm in art school. oh, wow. so have you thought about how you're gonna make money? at least we're learning some new things. we bundled our home and auto with progressive, saved a bunch. oh, we got a wobbler. progressive can't protect you from becoming your parents, but we can protect your home and auto when you bundle with us. that's what the extra menu's for.
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when you take align, you have the support of a probiotic and the gastroenterologists who developed it. align naturally helps to soothe your occasional digestive upsets, 24/7. so, where you go, the pro goes. go with align, the pros in digestive health. something was in the wind in detro detroit. the summer turned to fall in 2009. a woman's simple facebook post about old friends now in prison for life was read by a detroit
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native turned d.c. lawyer that got curious and looked up the pictures and -- >> couldn't sleep at the beginning just thinking about it. >> wondering what you should do? >> yeah. wondering what to do about it. >> what he did was call his old college roommate. the man that way back in 1993 told him a story about the murder of old man bob. tell me why you called him. >> to see if he remembered telling me the story he told me back all of those years about the night that old man bob was killed. and he did. he remembered it exactly as he did when he first told me the story. >> that he had been there when old man bob was killed and had seen things and never talked to police. and now once kevin looked at the pictures he understood clear as day that john's story could
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expose a terrible injustice if it was ever revealed, that is. so kevin stewed about it for a bit and talked to his wife and took her advice. >> we had no hesitation that we should do something with this. you're a lawyer, you know what to do with it and just go ahead and do it, you know? it's the right thing to do. >> so he boarded a plane for detroit on his own dime and john faced down his fears and both met with the lawyer that represented the imprisoned brothers. he didn't seem like he believed me too much cht. i said let's take the test. if you don't believe me, let's do this right now. a couple of weeks later we ended uptaking a lie detector test. >> that's weird isn't it? >> i was just sweating buckets.
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>> and he passed with flying colors. and then, nothing. neither kevin nor john heard anything more from that lawyer. >> i just thought it got dropped. you know? kind of, you know, wishing oh, good, it's not going to come back. that's it. >> and that would have been the end of it most likely had it not been for her. over on the other side of detroit, though john and kevin couldn't have known it was a private investigator that truth be told had just about given up on the case. >> we weren't getting anywhere. >> the private eye agreed to work the case for a fraction of her usual fee when they finally begged her to find evidence of the boy's innocence. she tended to agree with them but in her long search she had been unable to find anyone or any facts that could challenge the story about old man bob's murder that was told at the
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trial. which was this. >> bob was home and it was a friday night. he's getting a lot of phone calls. there's a guy in the kitchen weighing out bags of weed. people are saying this is what i want. mostly people come to the back door. >> an eyewitness is sitting in his car out on the street. we built this animation to illustrate what he later told the police. >> about 9:30, it's in front of his house and two guys got out and walked to the back door and he hears shots fired and shortly there after he sees some guys hoofing down the drive way and drive off. >> so this witness says it must have been them. >> everyone assumes the people running down the drive way shot him, yes. >> detectives looked high and low for the getaway car and no
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luck. and they named a possible shooter. he used drugs and even told friends he was going to visit bob that night. they prepared a line up but when they showed the pictures to the eyewitness he pointed to tommy's brother ray and told police he was positive, 100% sure ray was one of the young men running down the drive way and hopping in the car after the murder. so both brothers were arrested and tried and convicted and sitting in the courtroom the ant that loved them all their lives was devastated. >> i can't imagine why they got life without parole. >> this is aunt january. >> it was very hopeless. >> did you believe they would have done it? >> never. i never believed it for one
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minute. and now here they were in their mid 40s still telling anybody and everybody including us that they didn't kill old man bob. >> i just walk with the faith and i was just like this is not the end. >> the brothers had turned down any and all deals determined instead to clear their name. they joined every prison program, took every class they could to improve themselves. >> we always took any kind of programs they had to offer. and just held our heads up. >> after 22 years even their family had given up on that. >> had you gotten to the stage where you thought they'll be there for the rest of their lives? nothing they can do about it? >> i did.
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to be honest, i did. >> so too did the private eye. she stopped working the case or tried to. but tommy kept on calling. >> i would be like you can't keep calling me. and then one day i picked up the phone and it was tommy again and i just didn't have anything to do, i said fine. this was to get him off my back. i thought i'd do a couple of things and i'd be done. the sworn story told by that old college roommate of kevins. the one that claimed he was there at old man bob's when the murder took place and when the private eye read that. >> i got halfway through this thing and just went holy [ bleep ] oh my god. >> a close encounter with killers. >> that's the first thing that
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came to my head. >> but are they the same men spending life in prison for murder? >> i told people it's the miracle of facebook. >> when dateline continues. fac. >> when dateline continues ♪ to walk along the lonely street of dreams ♪ ♪ here i go again on my--- you realize your vows are a whitesnake song? i do. if you ride, you get it. geico motorcycle. 15 minutes could save you 15% or more.
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i tell people it's the miracle of facebook. without facebook it wouldn't have happened. >> the detroit private eye had been baffled for years about the mystery surrounding the murder of old man bob. the murder that put them in
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prison for life and then out of the blue, 2010, just because some woman had a moment of nostalgia and posted a casual note on facebook, an after the landed on her desk from a man she never heard of. >> it had to be real. it had to be true. >> a little piece of heaven falling in your lap. >> yeah. >> john told her what happened that awful night in the detroit summer of 1987. it was party night he said. they had just graduated from high school. and after a few beers they decided to drive over and buy some marijuana from old man bob. >> you just call up and say you're coming by and go to the back door and there. that's what we were going to do tonight. >> so they hopped in the car
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which was by the way a white plymoth and drove over to make the buy and when they got there they walked up the drive way to bob's back door just as the eyewitness later told the police accept for one detail and it was a big one. the eyewitness identified them as the young man in the drive way. but it was him. and we saw all the other people running toward bob. especially a guy with a shotgun. i just remembered i'm dead. that's the first thing that came to my head. he's going to shoot me. we froze. and all he said was get the [ bleep ] out of here and we
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turned so fast and ran back to the car, i never ran so fast in my life. as we were running back he heard the gunshot and we got out of there as soon as we could. >> after they returned to the graduation party. >> we were still freaking out and people were wondering what's the matter with you and what happened and someone told them what had happened and oh, i don't believe you. they didn't believe us. >> i could have been killed that day. >> came close. >> came close. >> he watched the news, read the paper, looked for news of the shooting but didn't see anything. never did find out what happened to old man bob. >> i didn't hear nothing of it. i had never saw him actually die. >> so i didn't really know. >> so he just tried to forget. he joined the army and served in
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the gulf and moved on with his life and never told a soul apart from his girlfriend and one night in 1993 six years after the incident he told kevin and it was one telling detail in john's story that kevin never forgot. those people that jumped over the fence, they weren't white kids. they were black. >> you had no idea two men went to prison. >> did you even know them? >> i had no clue who they were. never seen them in my life. >> total strangers? >> total strangers. this isn't right. it involved a different race. it was not two white people. >> that piece of information more than 20 years after the murder was what tommy and ray and their family had about lost hope they would ever find. when i finally got the whole story it was like, somebody had seen it.
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somebody knew. >> this all made sense. >> it was just a matter of mistaken identity. >> it just proved everything in the last 25 years. >> a story that would have disappeared forever had it not been for the facebook post and kevin's memory now gave aunt jan and all of those that loved and believed tommy and ray new determination. the family brought in a whole new legal team, one goal, nail down the evidence, get the brothers out of prison. attorne attorneys. this case should have never been charged. >> it ended up with two men spending the rest of their lives in prison. >> other people who were in the car with john that night. well maybe then. >> coming up, after more than
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two decades and a moment of truth. >> it was pins and needles. it was our life. >> this was it. this was it for sure. >> when dateline continues. t fo >> when dateline continues everyone says i should fight my cravings. no. you know what i do? i snack on blue diamond almonds. oh, come on! sriracha? woo! don't fight your cravings. eat 'em. all the flavors you crave in a superfood. blue diamond almonds. crave victoriously. but she wanted someone who loves with the so, we got griswalda. dinner's almost ready. but one thing we could both agree on was getting geico to help with our renters insurance. yeah, switching and saving was really easy! drink it all up. good!
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his next scheduled event is the democratic debate on october 15th. now back to dateline. now back to dateline
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after spending more than 20 years behind bars for a murder they say they did not commit they were given two valuable things. a potential eyewitness. a stranger had come forward to insist he saw the real killers. but could one man's claim be enough to overturn a conviction? for tommy and reese it was time to go about the past of proving it. once again, here's keith morrison with graduation night. >> the private eye and the others who joined her efforts for the highers brothers believed the newly discovered witness was telling the truth. now if they could only five the four high school friends he claimed were with him. other than when they took the trip to buy marijuana from a neighborhood drug dealer known as old man bob in 1987.
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>> and that was important to be able to make the connection. >> these guys were in the same car basically. >> and then one by one they did find them. the kids now 40 something who had been in the car and heard the very same things john told them. this man and he confirmed the story. >> you could see it dawn on his face that two guys had been in jail for nearly 25 years. >> a girl that was a high school senior confirmed she saw it too. though getting her to talk was no easy task but none was more reluctant than the young man that walked up the drive to the
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back door and then fled down again in terror when a shot was fired. why wouldn't he talk about it? >> pretty much all of our witnesses grew up in fairly wealthy well to do families and it seemed to be an embarrassment that they had gone into east detroit to buy marijuana. >> for months, he would only communicate through his sister and attorney. he refused to tell the investigator what he knew. he seemed to go to great lengths to avoid the call. >> he wanted to part of it which i can't understand because it's not often that you get to be a hero. >> what could the lawyers do? they subpoenaed him. >> it had to be done. we had two incident men in prison. we had no choice. >> it all wound upright here. detroit's frank murphy hall of justice in spring 2012. the lawyers appointed to represent the long imprisoned brothers said they hope to avoid this. they allowed themselves to think
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the wayne county d.a.'s office might see the evidence about the night old man bob was killed and see the mistake was made and rectify it. but -- >> we had a prosecutor's office that was very uncooperative in the face of overwhelming evidence of innocence. >> did that surprise you? >> no. it's an amazing ability to blind yourself to everything except what you want to look at. >> of course that was a defense attorney's point of view so here they were to fight it out. this took a year of their efforts and persuading them to testify about a moment in time so long ago was no less difficult. knowing that tommy and ray's family became a sort of cheering
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section in court. >> we just wanted to be there for them. >> he would decide if the new evidence merited a new trial. >> finally tommy and ray filed into court. the brothers who have day one insisted they were innocent whose family never stopped believing him and looking like just like what they were. survivors of a quarter century in prison. >> it was our life. if he didn't believe what he was hearing he were going right back. >> there was never no more relief. >> this was it. this was it for sure. >> good morning, your honor. >> back to the hearing it was all out warfare. >> the defense began laying out the strange tail from the start with mary evans and her 2009 facebook post. >> why have you come forward in this case? >> you know, on the streets i always heard they didn't do it. >> next the d.c. lawyer that just happened to answer that
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post. >> next he retold the story that john the old roommate told him in 1993. >> made a comment to the effect that wow you wouldn't believe what happened that night so he felt it his duty to step in. >> why are you here today? >> two innocent people are in prison for life. i learned information that could help set them free. and i felt compelled to help bring that information forward. >> then one by one the witnesses. the now 40 somethings that told them about that outside of old man bob's house where they have gone to buy marijuana for their graduation party and that it was their friends, not the highers brothers that came running down the drive way. >> and how did they look when they got in the car? >> terrified.
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>> why are you coming forward? >> two men sat too long in prison. >> even the reluctant one confirmed all of it. as did the man that threw the graduation party that night. >> he was very forth coming and said sure i remember that day. they were a wreck and they told me what happened. and you don't forget something like that. kept the old story alive. >> what was it like? the process of testifying at this hearing. >> i have been to combat and jumped out of planes and that was the toughest thing i ever had to do. >> he told the story he never before discussed complete with what he heard and saw. >> i heard comotion coming from
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the alley behind bob's house. i saw four african american males hopping over the fence from the alley and they were running toward the house. what happened next? >> i saw a larger african american male with what appeared to be a shotgun and then i saw another african american male with the handgun and told us to get [ bleep ] out of there. >> what did you do then? >> i proceeded to turn around and run as fast as i could. >> did you hear anything? >> i heard a gunshot. >> were you scared? >> have you ever been afraid like that after that? >> when i was in combat. >> are you telling the truth? >> yes. >> why are you here? >> because there's two innocent
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people. >> she made it clear she didn't believe all the new witnesses or what they said in the sworn statements which she picked apart word by word. >> it's not correct. >> it's not correct. >> so your affidavit is wrong. >> they suggested sometimes gently, sometimes not that they were all lying. they concocted the whole story to help free them. >> aren't they friend with you on facebook. >> my understanding is that -- >> no, listen to my question. aren't they friend with you on facebook? yes or no. >> well, i would say no. >> but said tommy and ray's attorneys it was the assistant prosecutor that contacted a story. >> they had nothing to contradict our theory. so when you have nothing you concoct something so what they concocted was a grand conspiracy theory. >> did that surprise you? >> it did.
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to have people unconnected to the defendants to come together in this huge conspiracy to cook something up doesn't make sense. >> it was up to the judge to decide if the new evidence was cooked up as the prosecutor claimed or compelling enough to give them their first shot at freedom in 25 years. coming up, the judge rules will the highers brothers get a second chance. >> we'll face whatever has to come. >> when dateline continues. to come. >> when dateline continues and the 12-hour pain-relieving strength of aleve. that dares to last into the morning. so you feel refreshed. aleve pm. there's a better choice.
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by the summer of 2012 they had been fighting to clear their names for 25 years. by now, the judge had heard all the new evidence. this was the moment. this is the court's decision. >> but with all the history, the legalese, the new evidence, the witnesses. >> the prosecution was meticulous in playing out inconsistencies and differences between testimonies. >> it took the judge two full hours to explain the basis for his decision. the reasons he said he had no choice but to rule a particular way. >> oh my nerves were like shaking. as tommy and ray, their courtroom full of family and friends and attorneys agonized. some felt almost ill.
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>> just sitting through the ruling almost killed me. i'm thinking oh my god. we're losing, oh my god we're winning. oh my god we're losing. >> until the judge finally said the words. this evidence meets all the requirements for this court to grant the requested release by the defendant. all right. >> a weight just fell off my shoulders. it was finally, thank you. thank you. >> and everybody was hugging and it was a joyous scene. >> you would think they had just been declared innocent of the murder of old man bob. but that is not what happened. not even two weeks later when the judge decided to release the brothers on bond to await trial.
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and tommy and raymond highers walked out of jail for the first time in more than 25 years. >> welcome home. >> it certainly felt like victory. looked like victory. >> it was like someone had hit a grand slam at the ballpark. >> oh my god. >> oh, man. >> hey, she is the bomb. >> but they were merely men on bail awaiting trial for murder. a trial the prosecution gave every indication it was especially determined to win and thus send these two men right back where they came from. state prison. >> what is it like to be sitting here talking about what happened to you? >> you can't even put it into words. the feeling. >> which gave us the chance to
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talk to him for exoneration and permanent freedom. >> what happened the night old man bob is killed. >> we got involved in things we shouldn't have been and drugs. that was the main thing. >> and that night, june 26th, 1987 the brothers did indeed go over to bob's house. they saw the police were there and assumed -- >> we figured he was being raided. >> that's exactly what we thought. he was being raided. never even stopped. there was so much police out there that we just kept going. >> it never occurred to us that he was murdered. >> a week later they were arrested. walked in there and never walked out. >> they were 21 and 22 when they went in but now they said they're not the same men they were then and that is a good thing. >> i'm not ashamed of being in prison because that's who i am
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today. prison made this man. my morals, my integrity. >> i mean, in a way, a positive experience and yet one you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. >> exactly. >> you still hold on to the light and you just push forward every day. >> what's on the agenda today guys? >> after they release they moved in with their aunt and wore electronic tethers to monitor their whereabouts. they were like rip van winkels awakened to the real world learning to use cell phones. getting their driver's licenses. >> waiting to get that all my life. first one i ever had. >> and getting up in the morning and going to work. ray at an industrial heating and co cooling company. and the county prosecutor's office is preparing the case against them to put them back into prison for life preparing it as we sat here talking though as the brothers told us here the
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d.a. has put a offer on the table. >> what were they offering? >> for us to plead guilty and we'd get time served. >> would you? >> no, we stood on our innocence and we screamed it to the top of our lungs for 25 years and for the people that got behind us and believed in us, for us to do that would be a slap in their face and it would just tear my integrity right out of my body. integrity right out of my body and nothing is going to change that. there will be people in the audience who believe you did it. >> y sure. you can't convince everybody. you're kind of used to that now. all we want to do is convince 12. >> those 12 will be the jurors. sitting in the upcoming trial. they'll be coming back to court
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to see if free men they would remain. coming up -- a courtroom game of chicken. who blinks first. >> disingenuous is a pro light word. what does it really mean? >> it means they were saving face. >> when "dateline" continues. ats and real superfoods ats new protein shake new snack break new emergen-c protein fuel & superfoods emerge & see. -[ scoffs ] if you say so. ♪ -i'm sorry? -what teach here isn't telling you is that snapshot rewards safe drivers with discounts on car insurance. -what? ♪ -or maybe he didn't know. ♪ [ chuckles ] i'm done with this class. -you're not even enrolled in this class. -i know. i'm supposed to be in ceramics. do you know -- -room 303. -oh. thank you. -yeah. -good luck, everybody.
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the hall of justice was waiting again for tommy and ray hires. the very place they were sent
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away in the first place. >> i hate going to the courtroom and the courthouse and i hate parking in the parking lot to get to the courthouse. you know what i mean? it's something we got to deal with. it's going to be head on. >> as we talked two weeks before the scheduled start of their trial, the wayne county prosecutor's office was forging ahead. once again, charging the brothers with the murder of robert kerry, old man bob. >> how nervous are you about this? >> of course, you're going to be nervous. your lives are in other people's lives still. >> the defense attorneys had been attending pretrial hearings sending motions back and forth, as lawyers do. all the while hoping the d.a. would come to see it their way and simply drop the charges. >> i was confident that it was a game of chicken because they had no evidence. >> with each legal step in the march toward trial, they were disappointed. the d.a. it seemed perfectly
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clear was very serious. >> then, just a few days after our interview with the brothers, september 2013, everyone a semd bld in the courtroom. assistant prosecutor reynolds had something to say. >> your honor, at this time based on consultation with prosecutor worthy, based on communications with the deez dent's family, recognition of what 26 years can do to the triability of the case, we would move to dismiss the case against the defendants at this point in time. >> and that was it. case dismissed. no new trial. >> it's not often you get to give somebody their lives back. that's what we did, we gave them their lives back. it was incredible. it was incredible. >> but before they all left the courtroom, the prosecutor pointedly reserved the right to refile murder charges if new evidence ever surfaces. >> are you going to allow this to hang over your head the rest of your lives? >> absolutely not. in the last year, we haven't
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allowed it to. we've moved on with our lives. we're going to continue to do that. >> the wayne county prosecutor kim worthy who declined date line's request for an interview. >> just as we did 26 years ago, we firmly believe in the evidence in this case. we worked diligently to bring this case to trial. with the passage of time, it is an unfortunate reality that this case cannot be put back together and we must dismiss it. sadly, in this case, justice was not done. end quote. >> really? said the people who freed tommy and ray. >> it was disingenuous. it was not right. >> it's such a polite word. what does it really mean? >> it means they were saving face. >> it puts a stain on them that they don't deserve. they already have the stain of 25 years in prison for a crime they didn't commit.
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then you have the prosecutor's office saying yeah, right. kind of like, we still think they're guilty. >> in 2016, michigan lawmakers passed the wrongful imprisonment compensation act calling for the state to pay exonerated prisoners $50,000 for every year spent behind bars. the hire brothers have sued the state for just over $1.2 million each. the michigan attorney general's office told us the matter is under careful review but said it could not comment further on pending litigation. for now, tommy and ray continue to celebrate their freedom and bond with the people who help make it happen. like mary, whose facebook post started everything. >> did you ever imagine you would actually cause such a thing? >> no. no. not in a million years. it's hard to get my head around it. it's awesome feeling. >> sure. kevin, who shies away from taking credit. >> i happen to be a lawyer.
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it doesn't seem that extraordinary to me. >> and john, who can finally put the past where it belongs, behind him. >> it's like i told them, i wish i could have done something earlier. you wouldn't have had to sit there for too many years. tommy looked at me, gave me a hug and said it was the way it was supposed to happen. it had to happen like this. >> they don't seem bitter at all. >> not when i met them. glad they're home and they're out and free. >> free men who know none of it would have happened without family and friend, that dream team of lawyers and investigators and, of course, facebook. >> what would you like to say to those people who helped you along the way? >> thank you from the bottom of our heart. >> yeah. >> for believing, understanding and taking the time that most people don't do. it's like a dream come true for us because it what's we've been
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hoping, somebody to help us. >> we want to live and move forward. we know it's gone. it's the past. move on to better days. that's all for this edition of "dateline." i'm craig melvin. thank you for watching. good morning. i'm jo ling kent in new york at msnbc world headquarters. it's 6:00 in the east, 3:00 out west. here's what's happening right now. he went to jared, the president's new plan to fight the impeachment inquiry. >> this is what's wrong when the world doesn't focus on the things that are right, the things that matter, that impact real people's lives. you get caught up in a gotcha game. >> the secretary of state making his case against the inquiry. while it's full steam ahead for new testimony this week on capitol hill. joe biden getting aggressive, his message to america in the midst of this impeachment fight. new heartbreak in dallas


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