MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - It was an extraordinary courtroom moment. Convicted murderer Marvin Haynes, serving a life sentence, telling a judge he did not do it, that he is an innocent man wrongly convicted in a 2004 Minneapolis flower shop slaying that rocked the community.
Haynes was asked directly by his attorney, Andrew Markquart: Did he kill Randy Sherer?
"No," said Haynes.
Markquart followed up, asking Haynes if he, in any way, aided or assisted anyone else in the murder of Sherer.
Again, Haynes stated, "No."
Haynes and his legal team are fighting for his freedom. The now 35-year-old Haynes is currently serving a life sentence for first-degree murder. His case is now getting a fresh look with the help of the Great North Innocence Project.
Ultimately, the fact finder in deciding whether to overturn the conviction is Hennepin County District Court Judge William Koch. Koch granted Haynes the hearing 20 years later, giving him a potential lifeline to one day get out of prison. Haynes testified under oath for about 40 minutes.
"Why are you here today nearly two decades later, still fighting your case," asked Markquart.
"Because I am innocent, 100%," replied Haynes.
Haynes was just 16 at the time of the slaying. His legal team is arguing botched investigative work, mistaken eyewitness identification, and bogus witness testimony coerced under police pressure, resulted in an innocent kid going to prison for life.
Haynes was asked repeatedly about his initial interrogation where investigators falsely told the teen they had hard evidence putting him inside Jerry’s Flower Shop on the Sunday morning in May when the deadly robbery unfolded. Haynes was adamant he was not there and insisted repeatedly, he had nothing to do with Sherer’s murder.
"Nothing to confess at all," he said.
In one final move to sway Judge Koch, several of Haynes’ sisters took the stand, in an attempt to provide him with an alibi that he was home sleeping at the time in north Minneapolis.
"I know he did not go (to the flower shop), he did not commit a murder," replied Cynthia Haynes, under cross-examination by Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Anna Light.
The Hennepin County Attorney’s office is contesting Haynes’ efforts, arguing to Judge Koch that undoing a jury’s verdict should not be done "lightly."
Haynes’ lawyers had hoped to call one additional witness on Tuesday. But he is sick. The two sides agreed to come back to Judge Koch’s courtroom on December 20 for that testimony before Koch ultimately rules on Haynes’ fate.