Pro Bono Client’s Fight for Freedom Profiled on CBS News’ 48 Hours

The current edition of CBS News’ investigative program 48 Hours featured L&E pro bono client Michael Politte and his fight for exoneration — Michael was 14 when he was charged in 1998 with murdering his mother.  Joining Mark Emison and the firm in this representation is the MacArthur Justice Center and the Midwest Innocence Project.

Michael was released from the Jefferson City Correctional Center on April 22, 2022. A Go Fund Me effort has been launched by the Midwest Innocence Project for those who wish to contribute to his fight for full exoneration, and this link includes the web page for that fund as well as the the 48 Hours feature.

Michael was only 14 years old when he was falsely charged with the murder of his mother, and he was falsely imprisoned for his own mother’s murder for over 20 years. He is now 38 years old.  He was immediately targeted by police as the prime suspect because he was the only family member home at the time and he did not act the way police thought he should.

Within hours of his mother’s death, the 14-year-old was interrogated multiple times, by four different law enforcement officers, over the course of the next 48 hours, without sleep, an attorney or the assistance of an impartial adult.  Because police didn’t think he, a shocked child, acted as he should they labeled him “a cold, emotionless, remorseless killer” – rather than the traumatized kid that he was. These judgments were then used against him in court.

The only evidence used against Michael has been scientifically proven as false. The only actual evidence to ever purportedly tie Mike to this crime was gasoline found on his shoes, paired with the Fire Marshal’s instantaneous conclusion at the scene that the fire had been started with gasoline.

As mentioned in the 48 Hours broadcast, science now conclusively proves that there was no gasoline on his shoes. The State has admitted this evidence was false. The Fire Marshall’s conclusion has also been debunked and no conclusion can be reached about the source of the fire.