The book Wicked Takes the Witness Stand by former journalist Mardi Link recounts the true story of the extensive legal proceeding following a 1986 murder in a page-turner of a story in Gaylord, Michigan. Ms. Link weaves together a compelling, yet sad tale, from court documents, news report and interviews.
Six men were convicted of murder. All were innocent, yet it took years in prison and countless attorney hours to secure their freedom. The first wrongful conviction was largely due to the misguided and vindictive prosecutor – Norman Hayes – who later became a probate court judge in a neighboring county. The cases multiplied when a pathological liar invented a story pointing the finger at five other men. Even though there was not a shred of physical evidence tying these men to the crime, the same prosecutor plowed ahead based solely on the so-called eye-witness, while hiding evidence from the defense. At the same time, their “witness” continued to obtain free room and board, all on the county dime.
After the dedication of criminal defense attorneys, many trials and appeals, these innocent men were released and they received a small modicum of damages for their destroyed lives. It is likely that the murder victim was actually a drug overdose and the county paid millions at the hands of a prosecutor.