CONSTANTINE, Mich. (WOOD) — Citing iffy evidence and shady interrogation practices, attorneys from two university innocence clinics are working to clear the name of Constantine man who spent nearly two years in a state prison for allegedly lying to police as they investigated the murder of an 11-year-old girl.
The attorneys from University of Michigan’s Michigan Innocence Clinic and Northwestern University’s Center for Wrongful Convictions took up Raymond McCann’s case in response to a Target 8 investigation last year. Thursday, they filed a motion to have his conviction overturned.
McCann was long considered the lead suspect in the 2007 rape and murder of 11-year-old Jodi Parrack, whose body was found in a Constantine cemetery. He pleaded no contest in 2015 to perjury and served 20 months in jail and prison.
Target 8 revealed last year that his plea followed months of interrogations by detectives who lied repeatedly to him — a tactic that is legal in the U.S. Among the lies: that police had evidence that he had touched Jodi’s body.
McCann was a reserve police officer in Constantine who helped look for Jodi. Police targeted him in their investigation because of what they called holes in his stories before Jodi disappeared, during his search for her and after her body was found.
During video-recorded interrogations obtained by Target 8, McCann denied any involvement in Jodi’s death 86 times.
Thursday, law schools at the University of Michigan and Northwestern University filed a 119-page document in St. Joseph County court. They are asking a judge to overturn the conviction and order a new trial.
The attorneys include David Moran of the Michigan Innocence Clinic and Steven A. Drizin, who played a key role in the popular Netflix “Making a Murderer” series.
McCann’s new attorneys are focusing on grainy video that they say exposes another lie told by police. During McCann’s search for Jodi, he told another officer to meet him at a path leading to a dam in Constantine. At his preliminary hearing in 2014, the prosecutor said surveillance video showed the entrance to the path and that McCann wasn’t there, proving he lied.
McCann and his new attorneys hadn’t seen the video until Target 8 showed it to them last year.
His new attorneys said they recently discovered that the surveillance camera “did not capture” the entrance to the path, according to the motion filed Thursday. Instead, it was aimed at a nearby street.
The attorneys accused a detective and the prosecution of using “false and misleading testimony” about the video to get McCann to plead no contest.
They say his defense attorney at the time failed McCann by not challenging the video.
Two years ago, Daniel Furlong, a man never considered a suspect in Jodi’s murder, was arrested in nearby White Pigeon after luring a young girl into his garage. DNA linked Furlong to Jodi’s murder.
Police continued calling McCann a suspect even after Furlong said he had worked alone. Furlong is now serving 30 to 60 years in prison.
St. Joseph County Prosecutor John McDonough is on vacation and was not available for comment on Thursday. He previously told Target 8 that the video was not a bluff to get McCann to confess.