On September 22, 2009, our client “Joe” invites two friends of his over to play video games, “Tom” and “Jack.” Jack arrives with his xbox in tow, and the three boys start playing Halo. The night progresses into role playing games. The boys are pretending to be prisoners during the Vietnam War. After playing the game, Tom thinks it would be funny to put Jack in a headlock. This enrages Jack. He stands up and storms out of Joe’s apartment, and then walks home. Concerned, Joe and Tom chase after him.
That September night, Jack goes home and tells his parents he had been strangled with a towel, tied to a chair and gagged, burnt with cigarettes, pistol whipped with a rifle and hand gun, and had this throat cut with a knife. And to top it off, he had also been “t-bagged” by Tom.
Joe and Tom are charged, as adults, with four felonies by Oakland County Prosecutor, Jessica R. Cooper. Joe faces up to 15 years in prison and becoming a registered sex offender, if convicted. The prosecutor’s office has warned that they will seek adult sentencing on Joe with no prior record if he exercises his constitutional right to a jury trial, and refuses to plead guilty to something he is innocent of.
The Wixom Police Department does an “investigation.” At the preliminary exam, under oath, the police admit there is zero physical evidence supporting Jack’s “story.”
Jack has no cuts, scrapes, scratches or bruises on his body. His clothes are not ripped or torn. What Jack claims, simply, did not happen. When Jack testified at the preliminary exam, he admitted to lying under oath on numerous occasions. In the case of most witnesses, this is called perjury. But because the Oakland County Prosecutor decided that Jack is a “victim,” his lies will not only be excused, but we are sure they will be properly “explained” and put into proper context for the jury.
Take a moment and try to imagine what it would be like to be Joe. Instead of dreaming about girls, sports and homework, Joe dreams about how he will survive 15 years in prison if a jury follows the police and prosecution’s lead in believing Jack’s lies.
We always thought the juvenile justice system was about helping kids, and improving their lives. Not locking kids in prison and throwing away the key.
Daniel Ambrose and Jill Duffy, Joe’s lawyers, will prove Joe’s innocence to a jury on Thursday, July 1, 2010.