A Michigan man who spent almost five years in prison is suing car rental company Hertz for delaying with producing a receipt that confirmed his alibi and eventually cleared him of his murder conviction.
According to WLNS-TV, Herbert Alford was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison in 2016 for fatally shooting Michael Adams. Alford had always maintained his innocence, claiming he was not even at the crime scene as he was renting a Hertz vehicle during the time Adams was shot. Despite several court orders and subpoenas for Hertz to submit the receipt in question, the car rental company only made it available in 2018. The charges against Alford were eventually dropped and he was released last year.
“There is no question that (Alford) would have avoided going to prison had they produced this documentation,” Alford’s attorney, Jamie White, told the news outlet.
Alford filed the lawsuit on Tuesday seeking financial compensation from the car rental company, the Associated Press reported. The case could, however, drag as Hertz filed for bankruptcy protection last year.
A spokeswoman for Hertz also told the news outlet the company is “deeply saddened” about Alford’s conviction, adding that they tried their best to retrieve the receipt when the request was made.
“While we were unable to find the historic rental record from 2011 when it was requested in 2015, we continued our good faith efforts to locate it,” she said. “With advances in data search in the years following, we were able to locate the rental record in 2018 and promptly provided it.”
The receipt corroborated Alford’s claim he was renting a Hertz car around an airport in Lansing during the period Adams was fatally shot. His location revealed he was 20 minutes away from the crime scene at the time of the murder.
And though prosecutors mentioned they had evidence that showed Alford was driving to the airport after the shooting, they never presented it in the case, WLNS-TV reported.
Following his release last year, Alford criticized Hertz for their failure to expeditiously submit the receipt despite the subpoenas and court orders, adding that he’ll never forgive the company.
“Almost five years of my life is gone from either sitting in jail waiting for trial or sitting in prison after the first trial,” he said in a statement last year, the Lansing State Journal reported.