An Ionia County man is set to receive more than $1.3 million after he was wrongfully imprisoned for nearly three decades.
David Gavitt, 61, of Ionia, spent about 26 years in prison after a jury convicted him of three counts of felony murder and one count of arson, the Michigan Attorney General’s Office said.
Gavitt was sentenced to life in prison without parole in 1986.
In May 2011, the University of Michigan Innocence Clinic filed a motion on Gavitt’s behalf saying the arson investigation science the prosecution relied on at the trial had been discredited.
The clinic presented evidence that established there was no evidence of an incendiary fire, the Attorney General’s Office said.
The Ionia County prosecutor conducted an independent investigation which confirmed the clinic’s conclusion.
The trial court granted relief, vacating Gavitt’s convictions and sentences, and ordered his release.
“No system is perfect and the government’s public recognition of the wrongs which occurred in this matter help foster a healing process and assures Michiganders that the government – regardless of fault – will take action to remedy any harm to its residents,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said. “Reentering society is profoundly difficult for the wrongfully convicted and we have an obligation to provide compensation to Mr. Gavitt for the harm he suffered.”
On Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019, Nessel approved Gavitt’s compensation award.
The amount of compensation is calculated based on $50,000 for each year the exoneree was imprisoned until the date they were released, the Attorney General's Office said.