Herbert Alford said he was innocent.
Not only that, he said, he had evidence.
There was no way he could have killed Michael Adams at 2:56 p.m. on the 3400 block of Pleasant Grove in Lansing, Michigan, because at that moment he was eight miles away at Lansing Airport, hiring a car rental from Hertz. There was a receipt that would confirm his story.
Despite numerous court orders and subpoenas throughout the process, and even years after he was convicted of second degree murder in 2011, Hertz never produced the timestamped piece of paper.
Alford served nearly five years in prison, ranging from 30 to 60 years, before the company released the document in 2018 that finally proved his innocence.
The receipt shows that Alford’s transaction was completed at 3 p.m. Six minutes after the fatal shots through town. As a result, his conviction was overturned and he was exonerated in Ingham County in 2020.
On Tuesday, 47-year-old Alford filed a lawsuit against Hertz for failing to provide evidence in time. Alford attorney Jamie White told NPR that it took years of court orders and subpoenas, and ultimately a separate lawsuit against the auto company, to compel them to locate the critical piece of evidence.
Alford seeks financial compensation.
“They viciously ignored his request for cooperation. As a result, Hertz is financially responsible for the damage he has suffered,” White said.
“When a business entity wants to participate in our community, it has minimal responsibility for participating in processes that protect those people. You cannot take money from people and then ignore legitimate document requests that, if so, could have saved one person . ” Life, “he added, noting that if Alford had served the full sentence, it would have been equivalent to life in prison.
White told WLNS-TV that Alford went to bed every night while imprisoned thinking he would never leave the facility, “and that takes a tremendous toll on someone’s mental health.”
The company told NPR it was “deeply saddened” by Alford’s experience.
“Although we couldn’t find the historic rental record from 2011 when it was requested in 2015, we have continued our good faith efforts to locate it,” said spokeswoman Lauren Luster in a statement emailed.
“With the advances in data search in the years that followed, we were able to locate the rental data set in 2018 and make it available immediately.”
But White has another explanation for the delay: “This is a global organization with an enormous amount of resources. … The only thing that makes sense to me is that they looked at this African American who would presumably be convicted and.. they didn’t have time for it, “said White.