My name is Danny Travis. I’m an African-American man who grew up in Michigan. My life was relatively normal until I became the suspect of a felony murder crime. The truth is, I’m no murderer and 1 never have been. I was 20 years old when I was torn from my home, charged, put a in a cage, convicted, and sentenced to natural life. I’ve been in prison over 42 years, serving someone else’s time. I’m now 63 years old and in search of an organization that can help me overthrow the ruling in my case, pro bono
MDOC Number: 158592
SID Number: 0941753X
Name: DANNY SYLVESTER TRAVIS
Racial Identification: Black
Height: 5′ 7″
Weight: 168 lbs.
Date of Birth: July 10, 1957 (63)
From the moment I became a suspect in this case, I’ve maintained my innocence. For starters, I was nowhere near the scene at the time the crime was committed. I was in Saginaw, MI at the time the crime was committed. The actual crime was committed in Midland, NU. The distance between both cities doesn’t support me being able to be in 2 places at once or having the ability to go from one place to another quick enough to not be noticed. I had witnesses that could attest to my alibi. There were also witnesses on the scene that identified the suspect as a light skinned male. As you can sec in my picture, I’m a dark-skinned man. There’s no comparison. It’s impossible for the real suspect and myself to be mistaken for one another.
My alibi was my defense as were the statements of the witness’s taken from the scene. Yet during my trial, all evidence that proved my innocence was suppressed. During my preliminary
examination in December 1978, a witness identified the man who committed this crime and signed an affidavit. The prosecutor argued that my attorney was not entitled to that statement. My counsel argued that he couldn’t cross-examine without first being able to review the
statement(s). My counsel was unable to suitably prepare my defense. In January 1979, my attorney, Brady Denton, filed a pretrial motion for discovery. He specifically asked for any and all witness statements. In February 1979, the trial court conducted a hearing ordering the prosecution to provide the defense with reports prepared by expert witnesses and the address of the endorsed witness. The court reserved ruling on the prosecution to produce in-camera inspection, police investigative reports, and interviews and statements taken from witnesses at
the scene. In short, the courts gave minimal evidence to the defense and ruled that all other remaining material “to be placed in a sealed envelope and retained in the court’s file:’ The sealed material contained everything that would’ve made me a free man. My counsel believed that the prosecuting attorney coerced the witness’s into changing their statements and identifying me as
the actual suspect. It was because of the sealed original statements and change of statements by the witnesses from the scene, that I was convicted. Without the ability to review all evidence, it was difficult for my attorney to provide an adequate defense. Denton filed a motion to have the lineup suppressed, it was denied. He also filed a motion for discovery, it too was also denied. This was an unfair trial from the beginning.
Since my conviction, I’ve taken the time to learn about the law. In May 1999, I filed a motion with the court for production and inspection of the sealed evidence. On June 3, 2002, Judge Paul J. Clolo denied the motion. On June 12, 2002,1 filed for reconsideration. On July 15, 2002 Judge Clolo granted the motion for reconsideration and ordered the records to be unsealed and I was to be provided with a copy. I was then moved to another correctional facility.
Twenty-three years after my trial and twenty-one years after my appeal, I obtained the witness statements. On August 5, 2005, I filed a motion with the court stating that based on the suppressed witness statements, I was deprived of my liberty without due process as guaranteed state and federal constitutions. The sealed documents were exculpatory evidence that would’ve been favorable to my defense, impeached the prosecutor’s witnesses, and been pivotal in the outcome of my case. I was informed that because this court’s initial decision to seal the records, I needed a higher court to assist me.
Over the years, I’ve come to realize that I’m a part of a statistic. I’m an innocent, African-American male, convicted of a crime 1 didn’t commit, in the 70’s. Each time I file a motion, its either denied because they know the evidence proves my innocence or the motion is granted because they know there’s no way I could use the evidence to be released without substantial obstacles. I’ve been robbed of my entire life. If you ask me, that’s the true crime. The prison system doesn’t work for the poor and/or minority. The justice system only works for the wealthy and white or those that can buy their way out of a conviction. I’m not one of those people but under Federal Rights and the U.S. Constitution, I’m entitled to a fair trial. Except that’s not how my trial was carried out. My rights were violated, and I was treated unjustly. My trial counsel, the prosecutor, judge, and jury were all white. What black man in America in the 70’s could survive a biased courtroom as such? I understand that I had no right to a jury solely composed of people that are of my own race. However, under the Equal Protection Clause, I am guaranteed that people of my own race shouldn’t be excluded neither. My sixth amendment rights were also violated during this case because I had a right to an impartial jury. The only safeguard here was my right to a proper defense, and I wasn’t given that. Subsequently, the promise of civil rights
hasn’t been fulfilled.
Our constitution assures equality to each of its citizens. Yet, Criminologist, Robert Staples once argued that discrimination pervades the justice system. The legal system was never built to protect U.S. citizens that are minority or live below the official poverty level. The legal system was built by white men to protect the interest of white men. This is not merely fiction, but a well-known fact. I’ve suffered a lifetime behind this nightmare that has become my life. This isn’t just state or federal negligence; this is a human rights issue. My case shows insurmountable prejudice and I need help to overturn my conviction. I truly hope you hear my plea for assistance and take OD my case.