Judge clears man who served 15 years for Detroit firebombing

DETROIT — A judge on Thursday ordered the release of a man who had spent more than 15 years in prison for the firebombing deaths of two children in a Detroit home, after prosecutors determined he didn’t get a fair trial.

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Morrow dismissed Kenneth Nixon’s convictions and charges, according to the county prosecutor’s office.

The prosecutor’s Conviction Integrity Unit requested the hearing, saying “credible new evidence supports Nixon’s claim that he was not the person who firebombed the house.” Nixon, 34, was 18 when he was convicted in the May 2005 slayings.

A 10-year-old boy and 1-year-old girl were killed in a fire after a Molotov cocktail was thrown into the home. Their mother and other children were injured.

The 13-year-old brother of the children who were killed identified Nixon as the person who tossed the Molotov cocktail, but the prosecutor’s office determined the boy’s statements were inconsistent.

A jail informant — in exchange for leniency in sentencing for a separate case — told police investigators that Nixon admitted to firebombing the house.

Witnesses also have said Nixon and his girlfriend were at a different house at the time of the firebombing.

The Conviction Integrity Unit collaborated with the Western Michigan University-Cooley Law Innocence Project.

“Mr. Nixon has worked tirelessly over the last 15 years to regain his freedom,” said Innocence Project attorney David Williams. “Thanks to Mr. Nixon’s persistence and the collaboration between the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project and the Wayne County Conviction Integrity Unit, Mr. Nixon will finally be reunited with his loved ones.”