At least 7 in 10 people who committed murder in this city last year have gotten away with it.
Cases with convictions for murder/manslaughter
Cases pleaded down or resulting in lesser charges
2008 homicide cases pending
Ruled justifiable or self-defense
Warrants requested by the police for murder or manslaughter
Warrants issued by the prosecutor for murder or manslaughter
Source: Compiled from Detroit Police Department and Wayne County Prosecutor's Office
The most generous interpretation of 2008 homicide warrants and convictions supplied by local law enforcement officials shows that in more than 70 percent of homicide cases no suspect has been identified, arrested, charged or convicted of a killing.
"The reality is, we have a reputation in the state that if you want to commit a crime, come here," said Kym Worthy, the Wayne County prosecutor who said she does not challenge the analysis. "The chance of arrest is quite low, the chance of prosecution is quite low. What does that say about the commitment to the public's safety?"
The Detroit Police Department reports 375 people were murdered in 2008, revising its number up from 306 after a Detroit News investigation into those statistics earlier this year. The Prosecutor's Office ruled 13 of those killings as justifiable or self-defense, lowering the number of criminal homicides to 362.
According to The News' review of warrants requested by the Detroit Police homicide squad last year, at most 70 cases ended with at least one person being sent to prison for murder or manslaughter. Another 31 homicide cases still are being prosecuted.
In another 22 cases, the prosecutor refused to issue an arrest warrant, instead returning the case to detectives for lack of evidence. In six cases, a defendant was penalized with only fines or probation after being charged with premeditated murder. And in another six cases, defendants pleaded to lesser crimes such as armed robbery or accessory after the fact.
And of those 2008 murder prosecutions, Detroit Police Chief Warren Evans estimates that as many as 10 percent were actually committed in prior years. That means that as many as three of four killings committed in Detroit in 2008 may end without a killer being brought to justice.
As a comparison, Oakland County reported 29 homicides last year. In all but one case, the defendants were sent to prison for murder. The other was sentenced for manslaughter, said Jessica Cooper, the Oakland County prosecutor.
Click to view image: 'crime dte'
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