FLINT, Michigan (WNEM) — A mid-Michigan man said his grandfather has spent nearly 50-years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit.
Eric Woodyard is fighting for his grandfather’s freedom.
“I feel like at the end of the day, the punishment is way too harsh,” Woodyard said.
Horace Peterson has spent the past 48-years behind bars for a murder Woodyard says he didn’t commit.
The victim was a clerk shot during a robbery at a Flint record store. A crime in which Peterson was guilty of being at the wrong place at the wrong time according to Woodyard.
“He was basically with a guy didn’t know that robbery was going to occur,” Woodyard said.
Woodyard is trying to plead his case before Gov. Gretchen Whitmer going to the state capitol with a billboard calling on her to commute Peterson’s sentence. Woodyard believes the punishment is based on outdated rules.
“It’s way too severe,” Woodyard said.
Woodyard points out that when his Flint grandfather was convicted, prosecutors weren’t required to prove malice or intent on felony and first-degree murder charges. That changed seven years later with a state supreme court ruling in People vs. Aaron.
TV5 reach out to David Leyton the Genesee County prosecutor about this case. He said that there are routes through the criminal justice system to appeal the case.
Leyton adds that currently he has no jurisdiction in the case.
The family’s attorney, Archie Hayman, said he plans to file a commutation request to the governor in the next couple of months.
“I just think that in fairness, you know he should be given consideration. He served 40 years; you know. And it’s not fair that he’s precluded simply because his case came up before the People vs. Aaron was decided,” Hayman said.
Hayman said that under current laws someone in Peterson’s position might have faced a charge of second-degree murder, which comes with a chance at parole.
Woodyard hopes he will get his grandpa a second chance.
“At the end of the day like that’s extremely hard. 48 years, no disrespect you know to the family who you know who lost a loved one, but damn 48 years like enough is enough,” Woodyard said.
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