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Michigan AG declines to pursue release of man known as ‘ninja killer’

The Michigan Attorney General’s Conviction Integrity Unit has declined to pursue the release of a man who was convicted of murdering a college student more than 30 years ago.

Temujin Kensu was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Scott Macklem, who was shot in the parking lot of St. Clair Community College in 1986. Kensu became known as the “ninja killer” after a prosecutor at trial portrayed the then-23-year-old, who practiced martial arts, as a cunning ninja who was able to hire a plane to fly him from one end of the state to the other, shoot the victim and return home without leaving a trace.

There is no physical evidence connecting Kensu to the murder, and multiple witnesses placed him more than 400 miles away that day. He has insisted from the time of his arrest that he had nothing to do with the killing.

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Since his conviction, investigators and attorneys have uncovered additional evidence they say points to his innocence, including the recantation of a jailhouse informant’s testimony and alibi witnesses who did not testify at trial. Kensu’s case has been championed by high-profile supporters, including the late Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan.

The Conviction Integrity Unit, or CIU, closed its independent investigation into the case this week after determining there was “no new evidence that supports the factual innocence claim,” according to a letter written by Special Assistant Attorney General Valerie Newman and obtained by NBC News. The unit did not make a determination regarding his innocence or guilt.

Kensu, now 58, has exhausted his appeals and has been denied clemency three times. The CIU was his best chance at overturning his conviction.

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