On May 14, 1992 Eron Shelman spent the day driving around with his friends, Floyd Ray Pennington (who owned the car), Andre Rice and Antonio Knight. They stopped at a friend’s house, Ken, who had a barbershop in the basement. They also went to Shelman’s mother's home, where she warmed up leftovers for them, and were headed to Shelman’s cousin's house when out of nowhere, Rice pulled out a pistol and shot Knight in the head. Knight was in the passenger seat, Shelman was driving and Rice was in the back with Pennington.
With the gun still in his hand, Rice ordered Shelman to pull into an alley where Rice and Pennington pulled Knight’s body from the car, and dumped it in the alley.
Shelman and Rice were eventually arrested for Knight’s murder.
When arrested, Shelman remained silent, waiting for a lawyer. Rice gave a statement admitting to everything that had happened, including that Shelman had no idea he was going to kill Knight, and that Shelman was completely innocent. They were both charged with Knight’s murder. The Police never questioned Pennington, or charged him with any connection to Knight's death.
Shelman and Rice had separate trials.
The Prosecutor presented testimony from a drug dealer, Montez Bell, who claimed that Shelman had told him "Tone gotta go", in an attempt to implicate Shelman in prior knowledge of the murder. Bell further claimed that the following day, Shelman told him "My dog Dre killed him". That was the only evidence even remotely inculpatory against Shelman.
Rice was never called as a witness, and his statement was never made known to the jury, or presented in any way in Shelman’s Trial, despite the fact that the Prosecutor and Defense Lawyer were both fully aware of the fact that it completely exonerates Shelman.
Shelman was convicted of First Degree Murder and sentenced to mandatory life without the possibility of parole.
At Rice’s Trial, Detective Kenneth Day read Rice’s Pre-Trial recorded statement into the record as evidence against him. In the statement, Rice clearly states that Shelman had no idea that he was going to shoot Knight and, indeed, he had not even planned to do it. He was angry with Knight, and it just built up until he exploded, and shot him on the spur of the moment.
Rice was convicted of second degree murder and felony firearm possession, and was sentenced to 27 - 60 years. He has since been paroled.
Eron Shelman #229016
Lakeland Correctional Institution
141 First Street
Coldwater, MICHIGAN 49036
Alternatively write via JPay email
For his Appeal, Shelman was provided with an appointed lawyer who refused to use Rice’s statement on Shelman’s behalf. Instead, raised some questionable issues from the Trial that went nowhere.
Shelman was eventually contacted by Rice who provided him with a sworn Affidavit attesting to the facts, and Shelman filed a Motion for Relief from Judgment under the relevant Rule for Michigan Courts. He was appointed counsel, and the Chief Prosecutor, Kym Worthy’s Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) began to look into the case.
Unfortunately, Pennington, now in prison himself on unrelated charges, refuses to talk to anyone about the day Rice killed Knight, likely due to his concerns about having helped dump the body and keeping quiet about it, so the CIU stated that there was nothing more that they could do.
The case remains pending on collateral review, with new counsel having been appointed, and the Prosecutor's response being awaited in the case.
Based upon Rice's initial statement, given immediately upon his arrest, it is clear that, not only is Shelman completely innocent of any involvement in the shooting of Knight, but also that the Prosecutor was fully aware of this before he even took the case to Trial.
This case is made worse by the fact that the actual and admitted perpetrator is free while Shelman, who is innocent, remains in prison for a crime that everyone knows he did not commit.