Michael Politte, who is represented pro bono by the Midwest Innocence Project, MacArthur Justice Center and Langdon & Emison, has had a busy 2021 as he continues to fight to prove his innocence. Forensic scientists found that the only physical evidence in his initial trial, gasoline on his shoes, was faulty. The substance found on the shoes was not, in fact, gasoline. This and other recent developments this year sparked media coverage of this case, featuring a possible failure of the Missouri judicial system.
Police suspected him of murdering his mother because they said he was acting “normal” at the scene and not in the way police thought he should. The then 14-year-old was interrogated multiple times by four different officers in a 48-hour period without sleep, an attorney, or an impartial adult present. Politte was tried as an adult at 14 and sentenced to life in prison. The legal team is calling for another trial to remedy the obvious constitutional violations that sent Politte to prison.
His attorneys are asking the Missouri Supreme Court to review his case and overturn his conviction.
In addition to the recent discovery of faulty evidence, the State has neglected evidence pointing to other suspects that would have caused clear doubt for a jury.
Remarkably, several jurors from Politte’s trial have come forward in his defense.
The foreman of the jury said he believes they would not have convicted Politte had they heard the evidence pointing to other suspects, and the fact that the only physical evidence used against Politte – the gasoline on his shoes – actually turned out to be a material used in the manufacture of tennis shoes.
For years, Politte has maintained his innocence. Four years after his arrest and while awaiting trial, the prosecution offered a sweetheart deal that would have secured an earlier release – if he admitted he was guilty. Politte was unwilling to admit guilt to a crime he didn’t commit, so he refused the deal. His family also maintains his innocence, as they have done since his arrest.
Langdon & Emison is honored to represent a young Missourian who still has his life ahead of him. As a 37-year-old, Politte will have plenty of opportunities to heal and move forward from both his mother’s death and his wrongful conviction.