Not Guilty, But Still Stuck in Prison

21 min readJul 3, 2020

An Interview with Temujin Kensu, an Innocent Man Incarcerated in Michigan for Three Decades and Counting

Nearly a dozen witnesses have placed Temujin Kensu 450 miles away from a murder committed more than 33 years ago, and a decade has passed since Chief Judge Denise Page Hood ruled that he should be freed or awarded a new trial. Yet, to this day, and despite being afflicted with a respiratory disease tied to Coronavirus, Kensu remains behind bars in Michigan.

In fact, the Buddhist born Frederick Freeman is not only incarcerated amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he’s been further dehumanized — and most recently placed in total lockdown — by prison officials and corrections officers, retaliating for the poor publicity created by efforts to free him from organizations like Proving Innocence, Undisclosed and the United Left.

In her ruling on his 2010 habeas (Fredrick Thomas Freeman v. Jan Trombley), Judge Hood stated that Kensu and his attorneys had made a credible claim of innocence, and that previously:

  • He’d been denied his constitutional right to testify
  • He’d suffered from ineffective counsel, who failed to call his primary alibi witness
  • The prosecutor, Robert Cleland, who is now a judge, was guilty of misconduct in using the perjured testimony of an incarcerated informant

While the prosecutor suggested at trial that Kensu could have committed the murder and then flown by private plane to Escanaba, where he was seen by multiple witnesses, it is more likely a scapegoat was needed, and quickly; the person who was killed was Scott Macklem, the son of a prominent local politician.

No murder weapon was ever produced, and no gunshot residue was found on Kensu’s clothing. An ammunition box found at the murder scene contained a fingerprint that did not belong to Kensu.