On May 25, Ray Gray — a former Golden Gloves boxing champ and artist from Detroit who was the subject of a 2020 Metro Times cover story after being incarcerated for nearly 50 years for a crime he maintains he did not commit — was released from a state prison in Muskegon.
The state of Michigan is supposed to pay the wrongfully incarcerated $50,000 for every year behind bars. However, according to The Detroit News, the state doesn’t have enough money in its exoneration fund. Plus, to walk free, Gray was forced to plead no contest to a second-degree murder charge, reduced from his first-degree murder conviction.
“I feel like I’m making a deal with the devil,” Gray previously told Metro Times. “But right now my main concern is being free — most of my life I’ve been locked up.”
Gray’s sister Phyllis Long has since launched a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of raising $50,000 to help Gray pay legal fees, make ends meet, and adjust to life outside of prison.
“The state dodged a bullet by not having to shell out $2.4 million in wrongful conviction compensation,” Humanity for Prisoners founder Doug Tjapkes told Metro Times. “I’m so happy for Ray and Barbe,” he added, referring to his wife Barbara Rinehart-Gray, a former prison art instructor, “but it’s a bittersweet victory. Not even an apology.”
In 1973, Gray, then 21, was convicted in the shooting death of 23-year-old Army veteran Reuben Bryant during the robbery of a Euclid Street apartment on Detroit’s west side. Gray and his supporters maintained that only “unreliable eyewitness identification” linked him to the crime.
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