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Dart Award Winner

Homicide in Detroit

The Hunters and the Hunted

Short-staffed, swamped by paperwork, overworked veteran detectives work the streets in search of a killer.

Homicide Detective Dwight Pearson sits at a desk in Squad 8, reading a preliminary police report. Two people were shot May 1 outside the Copa Lounge on Schoolcraft. Thomas McCartney, 74, was killed. His girlfriend, Dawn Janney, 44, was shot in the face but survived. A blue Mercury Grand Marquis was seen leaving the area. No one could identify the shooter, which was hardly a surprise. Nobody ever sees anything.

"I want to go over to the neighborhood to see if we can find the vehicle," Pearson says to his boss, Lt. Linda Vertin. "There is probably somebody in the area who heard something. People talk. Streetwalkers. Young kids. This is the time to get out."

It is Monday morning, May 3, and nobody has looked at the case for two days, because the Homicide Unit is so short-staffed. Many officers say the first 48 hours of an investigation are the most critical to solving a murder. Unfortunately, that has already passed.

"If nobody is looking," Pearson says, "they are probably thinking they got away with it."

Pearson is teamed with Sgt. Ernie Wilson, another veteran detective. They walk outside police headquarters and see three television trucks parked on Beaubien. Cameras are set up on the sidewalk for a news conference, but neither detective knows what it's about. The cameras seem to pop up whenever there is a high-profile case. For every murder that gets a lot of attention, there are about 20 more like the Copa case - just another shooting in Detroit, where, as some detectives say, "somebody got dead."

Wilson and Pearson get into a black truck, one of the department's undercover vehicles. "When we travel in a vehicle like this, witnesses will talk to you and other people will not recognize they are talking to the police," Pearson says. "They might be willing to give more information."

Pearson wants to go to the bar where the murder took place and see whether there are any surveillance cameras that recorded the incident or getaway. "I want to see if this guy has been in there, flashing money and made it seem like he was a big baller," Pearson says.

They drive past some housing projects and Pearson starts thinking. "They might have come from here," Pearson says.

He knows it firsthand, because this is where he grew up.

In the projects. Pearson, 36, is short and thick, with a round face and a thin mustache. His nickname is P Dog. He was raised by his mother in the Jeffries Projects, where he had to prove himself with his fists. He says he was involved in more than 50 fistfights before he turned 14. It was always over something stupid. One time, he was playing football and made a good tackle and everybody was talking about it at school the next day. The other player got an attitude and wanted to fight, to save face. It happened all the time. After a fight, Pearson remembers how all the animosity would disappear: "You wiped each other off and said, 'You beat me this time, I'll get you next time, let's go play football or whatever.' "

Another time, Pearson got jumped by a gang: "That's one that I lost. I got beat up a few times real good. My mom wouldn't take me to the hospital because we were too poor. I had black eyes and swollen faces and a bruised face and body, everything else."

Now, everything has changed. Kids don't fight anymore, not with their fists. It's easier to pull out a gun. "I think you got more people afraid to fight because they might lose," Pearson says. "They might be cowards. On top of that, they want to prove a point. A lot of times, it's because they got two or three of their friends with them. And they want to show they are bad. They pull out a gun and shoot it."

On the streets, it's worse to pull out a gun and not use it. "If they do that," Pearson says, "their friends will say, 'You are a wimp, you are sorry.' "

To make it worse, everybody seems to have a gun. "They are bringing them in as fast as we can get them out," Pearson says.

Pearson thinks revenge and anger drive most of the violence in Detroit. "It stems from people making a point," he says. "They want people to say, 'Look, I'm the toughest guy on the block. You are going to do it this way or else. This is my territory. This is mine, you can't be here.'

"They take out families, everything, instead of asking them to leave."

When Pearson was growing up, the police commanded respect, but that time has long passed. "When you saw the big Ford driving through your neighborhood, you tightened up," he says. "Back then, there was a lot more respect given to the police than now." On the way to the Copa Lounge, Pearson thinks about the case. The killers are probably from the area. He figures it has something to do with drugs, always a safe place to start an investigation. More than 50 percent of all murders in Detroit are related to the drug trade. Most of these murders do not happen because someone is high; it comes from the business side. Buying. Selling. Protecting turf. They pass a house and see four guys sitting on a porch. "That's some dope boys right there," Pearson says. He used to work in this precinct and sees a familiar face. "I seen him before."

They find the Copa Lounge and park out front, about 10 feet from where the shooting took place. There is no blood or other evidence outside the bar.

Inside, Pearson talks to a bartender. She tells him they have been robbed several times in the last few weeks. "Is this somebody who has been in the neighborhood before?" Pearson asks.

"The day we were robbed, there was a two-tone van, parked on the side. Gray. The night Tommy was killed, someone saw a blue car take off."

Pearson nods.

"Anyone get a plate?"

"No."

Pearson takes notes on a yellow legal pad. He finishes with the bartender and then interviews Janney, who has a bandage on her face, covering the wound. One bullet went through her chin and cheek.

"I want to talk to you," Pearson says. "See if there's anything you can tell me to help me find these guys."

They sit at a corner booth.

"The black guy grabbed me and said, 'Come here, bitch, let me talk at you,' " she says. "We thought it was a drug thing. I said, 'I don't want nothing.' Tom said, 'Leave her alone.' They kept tugging at my purse. Tom came around the car. He said, 'Leave us alone.' And they lifted up a gun and shot Tom. Then, I couldn't get my purse off. When I finally let go, they grabbed my hair and shot me, too."

Janney's cell phone was in the purse that was stolen. Pearson makes a mental note to subpoena the phone records. It should take a day or two, long enough for the killer to use the phone and leave a trail. "Let me ask you another question," Pearson says. "Who did this?"

"I don't know," she says. She looks fatigued. It the fifth time she has denied knowing the shooter to police officers.

"It just happened so fast," she says. "When Tom was trying to save me, they shot him."

"I understand," Pearson says. "But I'm trying to get an ID."

Pearson thinks back to the stolen phone. It could be a huge break. "I'm going to go to Cingular today and I'm going to get a copy of your telephone calls," Pearson says.

"When they shot Tom, they just left him," she says.

"What type of gun was it?" Pearson asks.

"I don't know."

Pearson lets her go and then interviews another witness, who says a blue Mercury Grand Marquis has been seen around the area. Pearson gets up and talks to his partner. Wilson has spent the last 20 minutes working the room.

"They see this blue Marquis on Decosta all the time," Pearson says. "That's the direction the guys ran."

"Let's take a look," Wilson says.

The detectives get into the unmarked truck. It starts beeping.

"All right," Pearson says. "I'll buckle up."

They drive down several streets, a residential area in the 6th Precinct. "You got to go out and look and hunt," Pearson says.

Finding a witness is difficult. Getting a witness to talk and tell the truth is even harder. People know that talking to the cops can put their lives at risk. They think it's easier and safer to keep their mouths shut. There is the law, and then there is the law of the street. They're two different worlds, with two different sets of rules.

After a few minutes, Wilson stops in the middle of a quiet street, next to a car on blocks. Someone is under the car doing repairs. A guy wearing dirty blue jeans walks up to the truck.

"Hey, man," Wilson says to the man, who he's known for years. "Where your boy at? He under there?"

"No, he just went in the house," the guy says. "That's my other buddy, he's doing the brake pads. Everything all right?"

"We just riding around," Wilson says. "Have you seen a blue Marquis?"

"No, I'm out here all the time," the man says, his elbows leaning against the truck door. "But there's been some crazy stuff going on. They been robbing people at that store over there."

"Oh yeah?" Wilson asks.

"Yeah, young guys. They been robbing people at gunpoint, man, right over there. There ain't nothing you can do. They crazy out here. But give me your card. I'll keep my eye out. Ain't no problem."

The detectives drive off.

"If he knew who it was," Wilson says confidently, "he'd tell me. Everybody in the neighborhood comes to him."

Pearson starts to think it might all be related. Maybe it's a string of robberies and this one went bad. Or maybe it's somebody who is growing more violent. First a robbery. Then a murder.

"It's the same person doing it," Wilson says. "They went in there and robbed them a few times. They said, 'Let's go up to the old white folks bar and rob somebody.' That's what they did."

If that's true, they will have to solve the robberies to solve the murder. Pearson talks to a snitch whom he's worked with for years. "I'm trying to get some info about a shooting," Pearson says in a low voice. "It happened at this bar, down the road. That guy died."

"I know," the snitch says. "The girl got grazed and the one who died."

It is not unusual for police to use informants. Sometimes, police pay them for information or give them a break on other charges, but this guy has helped Pearson out for years. He stays in the shadows and his name never appears in police reports. Most of the time, his information is reliable.

"I'm going to tell you everything that happened," the snitch says. "The guy that died and his girlfriend. The girlfriend does dope. She owed dope. Owed money."

"Dawn owed dope?"

"Don is the guy who died?" the snitch asks.

"No, Dawn is the girl," Pearson says.

"She does dope and she owed money," the snitch says. "The old man was supposed to pay it. Those two people go to the bar and those three guys were outside. They asked Dawn, give us your purse. It's the first of the month and she had a lot of money in it. She got her check. She had to pay it. The man tried to pull the purse from her. The old man was trying to be tough. She wouldn't give up the purse because she had his money and her money in the purse. Well, they shot him and they grazed her. They told her, if she don't come up and buy the dope later on, they will come and shoot her."

"So, she knows who did it?"

"Exactly," the snitch says. "She knows who did it. Several people in that bar do. But they won't tell you because they are afraid of those three guys, always terrorizing the bar."

Pearson feels duped by Janney.

"Dawn, later on, after the police and everything, she went and bought dope," the snitch says. "She gave them all the money she owed, bought all the dope."

"Oh man, don't tell me that," Pearson says. "We were just up there and she was pulling our legs. Dawn knows where the dope house is?"

He lets out a sigh of disgust: "Dawn will take us to the dope house today."

"Those guys will mess her up if you take her up there," the snitch says. "There's more than three guys. One guy is the bully guy. The other two guys are, 'Come on and watch me, I'm going to make you a dope dealer.' "

The snitch gives Pearson directions to the house where the shooter stays. He doesn't know the exact address. "When you come to a house that is boarded up, it's the house before that," the snitch says. "The blue house."

"All right. I'll give you a call," Pearson says.

Pearson gets back in the car. A few things don't add up: If all of Janney's money was in her purse, and the purse was taken, how did she go to the dope house after the murder and buy drugs? In the early stages of a murder investigation, it's almost impossible to figure out all the details. It takes several interviews, several sources, to peel away all the layers of lies and half-truths.

But Pearson knows he has to talk to Janney again.

"She won't say anything around the bar," Pearson says to Wilson. "She's afraid. This case ain't wide open. She knows who did it. She is the reason the old man died. He was trying to protect her."

Pearson trusts the information because the snitch knew so many details. "He made me feel I was there when he was telling me," Pearson says. "The girl doesn't want to talk. Right now, I think she is more afraid than anything. A crackhead is never going to admit they are a crackhead. She's not clean. She owes a bad debt. This bad debt cost her friend his life."

They go past the blue house. There is a minivan out front. Pearson writes down the license plate number. The undercover truck is not equipped with a computer that can search the plate. It will have to be done later.

"It looks like a dope house," Wilson says. "A lot of people coming in there."

Pearson looks at his watch. It's almost 2 p.m. - his shift is supposed to end in two hours. Through most of the spring, the Homicide Unit has faced overtime restrictions because of budget problems, but OT can be approved if a detective is working a hot case. He calls Vertin.

"We almost got this one closed," Pearson says. "I know it's going on 2 o'clock."

He gives her an update and she gets the request approved, but Vertin will spend the next two hours filling out paperwork regarding the overtime. If there is a typo or if she forgets to put a period after an initial, the form will be sent back to her.

Pearson and Wilson hurry back to the Copa Lounge.

"Some people are just afraid to talk and you can't blame them because their life is in danger," Wilson says. "They are the ones who have to live out here, in this area, day by day. We just have to come to the area when there's a murder."

Pearson survived the streets because of his father, Greg Pearson. When he was 14, Pearson moved out of the projects and started living with his dad in his home near West Outer Drive and McNichols. His father was a foreman at GM, making Cadillacs. "He made me do things that I never had to do," Pearson says.

Like washing dishes and vacuuming the house.

"Vacuuming?" he says. "I definitely wasn't feeling that. But my dad gave me the responsibilities that helped me to grow up."

Pearson joined the ROTC program at Redford High School. "As a matter of fact, I made it as high as battalion commander," he says proudly. "I was the big dog there. I always thank my father. When it was time for me to go, guess what? I came home one day and my room was a den. He had put my bed out and he said, 'It's time for you to move out and be a man.'

"So I lived with a friend and stayed there until I got myself together and got my own place."

Pearson represents everything that is possible in Detroit. With the right kind of family atmosphere and involvement in community programs, many experts say that any individual can be turned around and led out of a life of violence and crime.

Pearson and Wilson go back to the bar and interview Janney in the truck. She sits in the front seat; her skinny body looks even more frail wedged between the two large detectives.

"Listen to this," Pearson says. "I found out some information that you ain't told me."

"What's that?"

"Tom didn't deserve this, did he?" he asks.

"No," she says, her voice cracking.

"This guy was a boy that you owed money to," Pearson says. He pauses, for effect: "You know what I'm talking about, don't you?"

"No, sir," she says. "No, I don't do dope anymore. I haven't done it in two years and I did not know these people."

"Listen," Pearson says, sternly. "They know through the neighborhood. It spilled out so fast."

"No, sir," she says. "They are wrong."

Pearson notices she is blinking and jittery.

"It spilled out so fast," Pearson says. "And this is somebody you are supposed to care about and you are not bringing it all out to us."

"No, sir, it's a lie."

"What's the dope house you go to?" Pearson asks. "Where's the guy you owe this money to?"

"I don't know what you are talking about," she says. "I swear to God on my life, I don't. I've never seen these people before in my life."

Swear to God? It's one of the phrases detectives hear over and over from people who turn out to be lying. One detective says as soon as they swear to God or swear on a Bible or swear on somebody's life, he knows they are lying.

She continues the denial for several minutes, but starts to tell the truth about other things.

"I used to be a dopehead," she says.

"How long ago?"

"It's been almost two years now."

"If you gave us a blood sample today, we aren't going to find anything?"

"Yeah, you would, weed."

"No other drugs?"'

"No."

"You didn't have a weed bill?"

"No," she says. "I smoked all my weed with Tom."

"Listen to what I'm saying," Pearson says. "These guys aren't going to go away. Understand that. They are going to be back up here again. You know why? Because they got people in the neighborhood scared."

"Sir, I'm telling you, right now, I don't know these people," she says.

She isn't budging from her story, but Pearson is hardly surprised. Detectives say that people will lie for about 45 minutes before telling the truth.

Pearson sits in silence, as if changing into a new character.

"Let me tell you something," he says softly. "I want to be your friend. But don't make me your enemy and let me believe you have some involvement in this. Because let me tell you something, right now you are my friend. You don't want to be a suspect, do you?"

"No."

"You know, life in prison ain't good."

"I've told you everything. I loved Tom," she says. "I loved Tom."

"If you loved Tom, what new information can you give me?"

"I've told you everything."

They let her go.

"She's lying," Wilson says. "These guys have her terrified."

"She says she's been off for two years," Pearson says. "I can't believe that. She blinks too much, for one. She's all jittery. If I would pull out a crack pipe right now, she would want to smoke it."

Pearson goes back to talk to the informant for several minutes. He returns to the truck and calls Vertin.

"I got a guy who is going to give us the name of the shooter," Pearson says.

His snitch is working some other angles and Pearson waits for his call.

"It's an adrenaline thing," Pearson says. "You don't want to stop working on it, until all the leads are exhausted."

They drive past an old ice cream store that was a front for selling drugs.

"Used to be, if you'd buy a single cone, you wanted a nickel rock," Wilson says. "If you wanted a double cone, you wanted a dime. Right there. Is the theater still up?"

"They changed it to a church."

"Or is it a porno joint?" Wilson asks.

"They were holding church on the side of the theater," Pearson says.

For an experienced homicide detective, every road, every building has a story. So-and-so was killed there. So-and-so was arrested there.

Pearson goes to a nearby precinct to check whether there have been robberies in the area. Maybe there is a link. Maybe a fact will jump out at him, like another robbery involving a blue car. He has to thumb through files by hand because the department doesn't have everything in a computer database. But nothing jumps out at him. What's he missing?

Pearson gets a phone call from his snitch.

"He said to come up in 10 minutes," Pearson says. "Certain people are willing to talk. It looks like he knows what is going on."

They go to another precinct to talk to members of the 30 Series, an undercover unit.

"The 30 Series will know a lot of things," Pearson says.

"That is their daily job, to know the area," Wilson says. "They keep records. They chase these folks all the time. Some of them, if you give them a description, they will name a name to you."

But the leads start to dry up.

Pearson returns to headquarters, sits at his desk and writes a report, chronicling every step he took all day, everyone he talked to and everywhere he went. A couple of hours past suppertime, he goes home to his wife of 13 years and their daughter. They live in a comfortable brick colonial on the west side.

The next morning, Pearson stops at Plaka Café in Greektown for his usual breakfast: three pancakes, sausage, eggs - scrambled hard - with ice-cold water.

He eats a big breakfast because he never knows whether he will get a chance to eat lunch.

It's a new day, a new partner - detectives team up with whomever is available to work a hot lead. Pearson hits the streets with Sgt. Gerald Williams, a detective from Squad 8. They start out driving around the neighborhood in the 6th Precinct. This time, they are in an unmarked four-door sedan.

Pearson spots a man in his late teens or early 20s, wearing a dark hood, walking down a sidewalk. Pearson and the man lock eyes and stare each other down. Something doesn't feel right. Pearson accelerates past the man, makes a quick U-turn and parks about 25 yards from him.

Pearson and Williams get out of the car - leaving the doors open and the engine running, which they are trained to do - flash their badges and identify themselves as police officers.

The man increases his pace, digging his hands in his sweatshirt, and Pearson gets a surge of adrenaline. Is the man going to run? Is he going to pull a gun? The next few seconds could affect all of their lives forever.

"Police!" Pearson screams. "Stop!"

The man starts to sprint. He turns, jumps a fence and cuts through a backyard. Williams runs to the end of the block and stands at the corner so he can cover two roads.

Pearson rushes back to the car, slams his door and drives the car around the block. He finds the man, sitting in a lawn chair in front of somebody's garage, acting nonchalant, trying to hide in plain sight.

Pearson pulls out his gun. He orders the man onto the ground and handcuffs him.

"What did you run for?" Pearson screams.

The guy mumbles something.

"Shut up!" Pearson screams.

Williams helps subdue the man.

"What did you run for, man?" Williams asks.

Both detectives are breathing hard.

"I'm scared, man," the young man says.

"What you scared of?" Pearson asks.

"A big guy like you?" Williams says.

"What you scared of the police for?" Pearson asks.

"What?" Williams asks. "You wanted for something?"

"No," the man says, lying on his stomach, his hands behind his back. "I'm on my way to probation right now."

"Well, you violated!" Williams snaps.

They search his pockets but don't find anything. If he had a gun or drugs, he probably dumped it while running. That's the least of their concerns.

"Terms of your probation say you have to cooperate with the police, don't it?" Williams asks.

"I don't know who you is, bro," the man says.

"I showed you my ID," Pearson screams. "You want me to show it to you again?"

"We are gonna violate this guy," Williams says.

"Come on, bro," the guy says. "I'm almost off probation."

"I'm not your bro," Pearson snaps. "I'm the one you ran from back there, you remember? But now I'm your brother?"

Williams starts to play mind games. He wants this man to think he is a suspect so he will be more cooperative: "What did my man say, this suspect was light-skinned, almost white?"

It matches the description of this guy in handcuffs.

"Stay right there," Williams says. "Who is your probation officer?"

Williams takes out his cell phone and calls the probation officer to see whether the guy is wanted on other charges.

"What are you on probation for?" Williams asks.

"Attempt to deliver," the guy says.

"Dope?" Pearson asks.

"Something like that."

"Get up to your knees," Williams says, holding his cell phone. "I'm going to give you an opportunity to get out of this, understand me?"

"Get up," Pearson says sternly.

"I'm not gonna hurt you," Williams says.

"Come over here to my police car," Pearson says.

The guy sits in back and Pearson sits behind the wheel. The windows are shut.

"Now, you messed up when you ran from us," Pearson says. "I want to know some information about what happened up here." "I heard something about the Copa Lounge," the guy says.

"Yeah," Pearson says, "tell me what you know."

"Somebody got shot and robbed."

"Did you do it?" Pearson asks. "Is that why you running?"

"No," the man says. "Nothing happened to me like this before."

"When somebody identifies themselves as police - you saw the badge, ID - you take off running?" Pearson says, incredulously. "You can't outrun this car. It's not like you got more gas than this car. If that's the case, you are the Road Runner."

Pearson changes his tone. Suddenly, he's friendlier. "Why did you run?"

"They talk about how crazy it is over here," the man says. "I don't know."

Pearson tells the man that they will give a good word to his probation officer if he helps them. The man says he has been on probation for one year, for delivery of marijuana and his probation is almost done.

"A violation will mess you up," Pearson says. "That ain't good. Give me a little information, man."

"I don't know nothing, bro."

Williams can't reach the probation officer, but he acts like he is talking to one. "All right," Williams says into his phone. "Is that enough to violate him? I appreciate it. I'll call you back in about 15 minutes."

Pearson changes his tone again. They are playing good cop, bad cop.

"Hold on, partner," Pearson says. "I'm sure he wants to give up something. I don't want to see the brother go down like this."

Pearson talks to the man for several minutes in the car and then walks with him down the road. He tells the man that if he gets some information about the shooting, Pearson won't tell the probation officer how he ran from the police.

"Look, you can talk to me," he says. "I'm here to help you." Pearson tells him about his past, how he grew up on these streets, in the projects. Pearson gives the man his card and lets him go. Pearson and Williams get back into the car and start to joke.

"They don't run on me," Pearson says, talking trash. "They saw you; that's why he ran."

Williams starts to laugh. He is surprised how fast they caught the guy. "This generation doesn't have any stamina," Williams says.

Pearson has a craving for fried fish, so they go to a restaurant for lunch. On the wall, there is a battery-operated fish that wiggles and sings: "B-b-b-b-ad. Bad to the bone!"

As he waits for his order, Pearson thinks about the key to solving this murder: Dawn Janney.

"I got to work harder," Pearson says to himself. "We are gonna bring Dawn downtown."

Back in the car, Pearson gets a call from his snitch and gets a description of the shooter. He updates Williams: "OK. The guy is wearing a red shirt, and red hat, at Lyndon and Outer Drive. Right there by In and Out. They hang in that lot."

Pearson and Williams drive past the store, but nobody is there. They set up a stakeout about a block away.

They position the car so they can watch the store and several streets that lead to it. Behind them, walking up the road, somebody is wearing a red shirt. They turn around and check it out, but it's a girl.

They wait for about a half hour.

Pearson and Williams take off, driving around the block, looking for the man in red. They see a mailman walking his route. "I'd hate to be the mailman in this neighborhood," Pearson says. "Dangerous."

Williams looks at the boarded-up houses and vacant lots: "But it ain't like you got a bunch of houses."

"You ain't lying," Pearson says.

"Your bag is light," William says.

"He ain't even got a bag," Pearson says.

"He just stuffs it in his pockets," Williams says.

It's the middle of the day and they drive past children playing in their yards.

"Nobody goes to school anymore," Pearson says.

After passing four new houses in a row - small pockets of construction offer so much hope - the next 20 are nothing but rundown despair.

"We are back in reality," Pearson says.

They work all day - talking to hookers, people on the streets and the snitch again - but don't come up with any leads.

A few days later, Pearson takes Janney to police headquarters, and she fails a polygraph test. That forces her to come clean. She identifies the killer as Torantie Hankins and she admits that the shooting happened because she owed Hankins $40 for crack.

This is what Pearson wrote in his report: "After shooting McCartney, Hankins turned around, grabbed Janney by the hair and stated to her, 'If you tell anyone about this tonight, I will kill you.' After telling Janney this, Mr. Hankins shot her in the face area, grabbed her purse and fled location."

 

Epilogue
In the fall, after a reorganization in the Homicide Unit, Pearson was moved into a new intelligence unit. It is his job to create a computer system that will allow detectives to search for information in several databases.

"Homicide has a big future," Pearson says. "If you have a nickname, like P Dog , you can go in there under nickname and pull up anyone who used the name P Dog. Through that resource, we should be able to find information. First of all, name and location they used."

It would have been helpful at several stages of this investigation. Eventually, he would like to include narcotics files or information from the 30 Series, so all the information will be shared.

As of October, Pearson has closed 85 percent of his cases, one of the highest rates in the Homicide Unit.

Torantie Hankins was tried in November before Judge Leonard Townsend, who has presided over hundreds of murder trials. The case came down to Janney's testimony because there was no physical evidence.

"This is real life," the prosecutor said in her opening statement.

The defense argued that Janney should not be trusted because she had lied to four officers before talking to Pearson and had given several descriptions of the shooter. In court, Janney admitted to drinking beer and smoking cigarettes laced with marijuana on the day of the shooting, but she said she is now off drugs. The defense attorney argued that Janney had nothing to fear and no reason to lie to police. The prosecution countered that she had a good reason to be afraid because she feared for her life - her boyfriend was killed and she was shot in the face. After a two-day trial, 10 members of the jury voted to convict, two thought there was reasonable doubt. It was declared a mistrial and a new trial is scheduled for Feb. 22.

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Jeff Seidel

  • Jeff Seidel joined the Detroit Free Press in 1998 as a general assignment features reporter. He has covered everything from the war in Iraq to Hurricane Katrina.

Eric Seals

  • “If you learn to shoot with your heart, you’ll move peoples souls.” That phrase of inspiration, said to him in 1993 by one of his mentors at the Detroit Free Press is something photojournalist, Eric Seals thinks about on a daily basis when making pictures. Born in Detroit into a news junkie family in 1969, Seals knew in 10th grade that he wanted to be a photojournalist. Seals grew up reading the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press and became more interested in looking at the pictures in the Detroit Free Press because the photographers seemed to make something out of nothing assignments and took more chances.

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