Brothers free after judge sets bond in old killing

DETROIT (AP) -- Two brothers imprisoned for 25 years after murder convictions walked out of a Detroit jail late Monday just hours after a judge agreed to release them on bond while their case is being appealed.

Thomas and Raymond Highers, who were accused of fatally shooting a man in a drug house, were each granted $10,000 bond but required to post only 10 percent. Prosecutors argued against the low bond, but Wayne County Circuit Judge Lawrence Talon said he didn't believe the brothers were a threat to the community.

"Are they the same people they were 25 years ago or not? The court doesn't believe that they are," Talon said. "I already ruled the probability of a different result is likely on retrial."

They left custody about 8 p.m., to the warm embrace of family members. The men will have to wear GPS tethers and live with their aunt in her Roseville home, north of Detroit.

Thomas Highers is now 46, and Raymond Highers is 45.

Talon last month threw out the brothers' first-degree murder convictions based on new testimony from witnesses who didn't come forward after the 1987 fatal shooting of a 65-year-old man at a Detroit drug house. Prosecutors are appealing that decision, saying they have doubts about the new witnesses.

The witnesses, former Grosse Pointe schools friends, claimed they went to the house to buy marijuana. One of them, John Hielscher, has said in an affidavit that he saw the attackers at the drug house and they were black. The Highers brothers are white.

Janet Hirth, the aunt with whom the brothers will be living, cried outside the court.

"We're elated," Hirth said, according to the Detroit Free Press. "We're just so happy they're coming home. ... We all need to get reacquainted."

Hirth said the brothers will come home to "spaghetti and meatballs, two beautiful beds ... and family."

Published: Wed, Aug 15, 2012

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