Judge gets rid of perjury conviction in Parrack case

Ray McCann II
Ray McCann II appears in court to try to clear a perjury charge from his record. (Nov. 9, 2017)

CENTREVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — A man who spent 20 months in prison for lying about evidence in the Jodi Parrack murder investigation was cleared of all charges today.

It was a case Target 8 investigators brought to light last year.

With the stroke of a judge’s pen, Ray McCann is a new man.

“I think it does clear Ray’s name,” said Greg Swygert, clinical assistant professor of law at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Center on Wrongful Conviction. “Unfortunately, when people Google his name this will still come up, but I think this is an official statement that Ray can show anyone that says, ‘My name is clear.’”

McCann spent nearly two years in prison for perjury in the 2007 murder of 10-year-old Jodi Parrack in Constantine. McCann was the investigator’s lead suspect.

They claimed he lied about where he searched for Parrack.

>>RELATED: Jodi’s murder: Making a monster

Both the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Center on Wrongful Conviction and University of Michigan Law School’s Michigan Innocence Clinic filed motions to withdraw McCann’s no contest plea. The organizations took McCann’s case after Target 8 investigators found police may have lied about surveillance video that they claimed proved McCann had lied.

On Thursday, a St. Joseph County Circuit Court judge set aside McCann’s conviction and dismissed the case with prejudice. Swygert said that means prosecutors can never again charge McCann with perjury relating to this case.

“The way the state police conducted this investigation was reprehensible,” said David Moran, the director of the Michigan Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School.

Moran says it’s not uncommon for innocent people to plead guilty or no contest to charges.

“(Police) lied to Ray over and over again about the evidence,” said Moran. “But even worse, they lied to his wife, they lied to his son, they lied to his sister, they lied to his friends, they told them terrible things.”

Moran said police didn’t act properly in the case.

“I think the state police crossed a lot of lines in this case, and I hope there’s a reckoning for what they did,” he said.

Both attorneys said this case was scheduled for another hearing next week. But, because the prosecutor conceded the motion, the judge exonerated McCann today.