Michigan man spends 37 years in prison, freed after witness says she lied

Walter Forbes said the best thing about being free was the moment he saw his family for the first time

A Michigan man by the name of Walter Forbes was wrongfully imprisoned for 37 years until a witness admitted that she lied in her story.

Annice Kennebrew, the star witness that landed Forbes in prison for nearly four decades, said she fabricated a tale because she was intimidated by two local men who threatened her and her family.

READ MORE: Yusef Salaam writing memoir about his wrongful imprisonment

Kennebrew’s false testament led to Forbes getting convicted for arson and murder in 1982.

According to court documents obtained by the Detroit Free Press, a February 2020 evidentiary hearing states that Kennebrew testified “she had falsely implicated Mr. Forbes because she had been intimidated into doing so by two local men who knew her from around the neighborhood and who had threatened to harm her and her family if she did not implicate Mr. Forbes.”

Forbes, now 63, was sentenced to life in prison. He was released on November 20.

This all started on July 11, 1982, when Forbes broke up a bar fight which led one of the men involved, Dennis Hall, to shoot him. The following day, Hall died after a fire was set at his apartment.

Thirty-seven years ago, Kennebrew testified that three men, including Forbes, burnt down Hall’s apartment. It was not until 2017 that she decided to come clean. Prosecutors say the owner of Hall’s apartment is responsible for his death as it was later discovered to be an arson-for-insurance-money scheme, for which the owner was later convicted.

The owner has not, however, been officially implicated in Hall’s death.

READ MORE: Netflix docu-series ‘Trial 4’ tells story of wrongfully convicted Boston man who served 22 years

The statute of limitations for perjury lasts for six years, meaning Kennebrew got away with lying to authorities and the judge, and will not face any new charges.

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Forbes, on the other hand, has forgiven those responsible for his conviction. He said the best thing about being free was the moment he saw his family for the first time.

It was one of those moments where all you can do is grin,” he told the Free Press.

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