Davontae Sanford's Road to Freedom

Tale of the murder weapons

By George Hunter / The Detroit News

Three street guns cut a deadly path through Detroit’s east side in 2007.

Aside from being used in the crimes, the AK-47 rifle and .45 and .40 caliber pistols were presented in the efforts to free Davontae Sanford as proof Vincent Smothers was telling the truth when he said he and Ernest Davis, not Sanford, were involved in the murders. (Pictures are stock images for illustration purposes and are not the actual guns used in the crimes.)

  • Between hits, Vincent Smothers kept his rifle stashed at a dope dealing friend’s house on Medbury.
  • Ballistics tests show the gun was used Aug. 16, 2006, to kill Carl Thornton outside his home at 12683 Strasburg.
  • It was also used in the killings at 19741 Runyon, tests show.
  • The gun was never recovered.
Springfield .45 caliber pistol
  • Allegedly used by Ernest Davis in the 19741 Runyon murders.
  • After Smothers’ arrest, he told police the gun was hidden in Davis’ cousin’s home at 14457 Promenade. A ballistics test proved the gun had been used in the Runyon killings.
  • Serial #US673980
  • The gun was originally sold to a man named Kenneth. When questioned by state detectives, Kenneth said he bought the gun to go hog-hunting in Florida.
  • Kenneth said his pistol was stolen from his Jeep while he was inside a bar. He said he had the gun in a lock box under the driver’s seat, but that the box wasn’t locked. “He also advised the Jeep did not have a top on it, thus making it very easy for someone to just reach in and take the pistol,” the investigator’s report said. “I asked him what his thought process was in this situation and why he would place a gun in an open air vehicle and not locked up in the gun box. (He) could not explain … why he did what he did.”
Springfield .40 caliber pistol
  • Smothers stole the gun from his victim, Michael Robinson, who lived at 19741 Runyon.
  • Smothers used the pistol in the Dec. 26, 2007, murder of Rose Cobb in the parking lot of the CVS at East Jefferson and Dickerson.
  • Police recovered the gun at Ernest Davis’ cousin’s house at 14457 Promenade.
  • Serial #US429660
  • Investigators determined the gun was originally sold to a man named “Ring.”
  • “Ring” told ATF agents he had traded the pistol for drugs to a Brett Ball, now deceased. “Ring” said he had expected to get the gun back from Ball, but when he asked about it, Ball said he’d sold it to a dope dealer named “Money.”
  • State police wrote: “Through this investigation, ‘Money’ has been identified as Lloyd Steed.” The report noted Steed had been convicted in a federal drug conspiracy case.

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