Donald Reynolds was murdered in the early morning hours of September 4, 1980 during a robbery outside of the bar that he owned in Jackson, Michigan.
No one was arrested immediately after the crime, however 14 years later, Gary Raab claimed to police he was with Daniel Wolfe and Gregory Derbyshire when they committed the crime.
Wolfe and Derbyshire were convicted of the crime in separate trials, based mainly on Raab’s testimony, for which he was given immunity from prosecution.
At trial Raab admitted telling Detective Clifton Edwards during his first interview that he could not recall anything concerning the incident. Raab said that he only recovered his memory of the events after having spoken with Detective Edwards in December of 1994, through “flashes” that he had in his sleep. Raab also told Detective Edwards that he had a grudge against Wolfe.
Raab’s account was contrary to the testimony of other witnesses, and also contrary to the forensic evidence.
In addition the defence offered evidence suggesting that the crime may have been committed by others:
Eugene Hobbins, who lived behind the Silver Rail Bar past the railroad tracks, testified that at around 3 a.m. on a day in early September, he saw his neighbor, John Wheeler, run quickly and dive into the basement window of Wheeler’s house. Hobbins testified that Wheeler attempted to sell him two .22 caliber rifles at around the same time, telling Hobbins, that they were not his guns, but they belonged to somebody he knew. John Wheeler testified at trial and admitted committing several burglaries, including one against the Silver Rail Bar in 1981 or 1982, but denied that he ran home on September 4, 1980. Wheeler could not recall selling two .22 caliber rifles to Hobbins.
An appeal ruling in 2006 (petitioner Wolfe) stated that “the record would have supported an acquittal” however the appeal was denied. The same ruling noted many inconsistencies:
Raab testified that the petitioner, Derbyshire, and the victim were standing close together when the gun discharged; Raab testified to hearing one gunshot. Similarly, Michael Hession testified that the petitioner confessed to him that the gun went off during a struggle. On the contrary, the autopsy results showed that the victim was shot twice in the back and side of the head behind his ear with a .22 rifle, and no powder burns were observed on the victim, suggesting that he was not shot at close range. Police witnesses testified that two additional shots had been fired into the victim’s vehicle. Another inconsistency resulted from the testimony of Wade Miller that Tom Walling was present in the vehicle when he and the petitioner and Derbyshire cased the bar in July and August of 1980 just before the murder; it was established through prison records that Walling was in prison from 1979 to 1982.
What seems likely : Wolfe and Derbyshire discussed robbing the Silver Rail Bar, but in fact someone else actually committed the robbery and murder, and Raab and Kilgore testified against Wolfe and Derbyshire due to suspicions, a grudge and threats from the cops.