Death Row Exonerated by State I-K


Charles Fain spent 18 years on death row, falsely accused of raping and murdering a 9-year-old girl based on the testimony by a "jailhouse" snitch who claimed Charles Fain confessed, and the testimony of an FBI lab technician that three hairs found on the victim likely came from Fain. The jury rejected Fain's alibi defense, that at the time of the crime, he was living with his parents almost 400 miles away, in Redmond, Oregon. Fain was sentenced to death and his conviction was upheld on appeal. In 2001, DNA analysis excluded him as the source of three hairs found on the victim. He was subsequently released.

 Donald Paradis  After spending 14 years on death row, Donald Paradis was released from prison when his 1981 murder conviction was overturned.

Judge Gary Haman, who originally sentenced Paradis to death, came out of retirement to accept Paradis' plea to moving the body after the murder, and who also  maintained that he was not involved in the slaying of Kimberly Anne Palmer.  He was sentenced to 5 years and released for time already served.

The deal came after a federal court of appeals ruling that Paradis was denied a fair trial because prosecutors withheld potentially exculpatory evidence. Paradis was scheduled for execution three times before his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 1996 by then-Governor Phil Blatt who had doubts about Paradis' guilt. Paradis' trial lawyer, William Brown, never studied criminal law, never tried a felony case, and never tried a case before a jury. While representing Paradis, Brown also worked as a police officer. His defense lasted only three hours.

In addition, Dr. Brady, the pathologist who performed the autopsy of Ms. Palmer, testified that Palmer had been killed in Idaho, not in Washington where Paradis had already been acquitted of the murder. Dr. Brady was fired as a medical examiner soon after the Paradis trial when it was discovered that he had sold human tissue for profit and saved human blood, collected during autopsies, for use in his garden.
What if he hadn't had the services of two dedicated lawyers and the virtually limitless resources of Coudert Brothers? When you tally the many thousands of hours of legal work that went into the case and the expenditures made on Mr. Paradis's behalf, the cost of securing justice for him ran to well over $5 million. Now consider that 97 percent of the defendants on death row are indigent. Both lawyers were chastened by their experience. ''I know that we can't trust human beings with this penalty unless we're prepared to kill innocent people,'' said Mr. Matthews.

Rolando Cruz (left) and Alejandro Hernandez (bottom left) were twice wrongly convicted for the murder of 10-year-old Jeanine Nicarico. Prior to their 1985 trial the lead detective in the case resigned in protest that prosecutors were proceeding against innocent men.

Nevertheless, prosecutors continued and won convictions, thanks to the testimony of officers who falsely claimed that Cruz had told them details of the crime that only the killer would have known.

 Shortly after the trial, another man, Brian Dugan, who had already confessed that he alone raped and murdered 10-year old Jeanine Nicarico and another 8-year-old girl, corroborated by overwhelming evidence. Despite this, prosecutors refused to acknowledge that they had put the wrong men on death row and Cruz and Hernandez were convicted at a second trial in 1990, at which Dugan did not testify and which much of the evidence proving that Dugan had committed the crime was excluded from the courtroom.

In 1990, a volunteer legal team agreed to represent Cruz and Hernandez on appeal. After four years of litigation, the Illinois Supreme Court reversed Cruz and Hernandez's conviction in 1994, and granted him a third trial. However, prior to that trial, newly available DNA testing excluded Cruz and Hernandez as the child's rapists, linking Dugan to the crime. Even so, prosecutors refused to drop the case.

In July, 1994, the state Supreme Court overturned Cruz and Hernandez's second conviction. An assistant state attorney general resigned because she thought the evidence showed Cruz was innocent and thought it wrong to pursue the prosecution. Other law enforcement officials also protested the continued efforts to prosecute Cruz and Hernandez . Cruz and Hernandez were finally acquitted at retrial in November, 1995. The judge did not even wait for the defense to put on its case before entering a directed verdict of not guilty. Three prosecutors and four law enforcement officers involved with the prosecution of Cruz and Hernandez have been indicted for obstruction of justice in this case.

The book Victims of Justice Revisited tells the pivotal story of Cruz and his two co-defendants after the 1983 murder of ten-year-old Jeanine Nicarico of Naperville, Illinois. The book follows the story from the day the crime occurred to the groundbreaking trial of seven law officers accused of conspiring to deny Cruz a fair trial. If not for an investigative journalism's class project, at Northwestern University, the state of Illinois would have executed

 Anthony Porter, an innocent man, who spent 16 years on death row for a crime he did not commit. (Two years earlier, evidence uncovered by students in this course had freed four men falsely accused of killing a suburban couple.) Porter, with a measured IQ of 51, was arrested two days after the August 1982 shooting deaths of two people, Jerry Hillard, 18, and Marilyn Green, 19. Based on the identification testimony of William Taylor, Porter was then convicted and sentenced to death.

When Taylor was first questioned by police at the scene, he said he did not see the perpetrator. In later questioning at the police station, he claimed he saw Porter running by right after shots were fired. After 17 more hours of questioning, Taylor said he saw Porter shoot the two victims.

 In early 1999, while Porter’s mental fitness was still under investigation, William Taylor recanted his trial testimony to volunteer private investigator Paul Ciolino and a student of David Protess, a professor of journalism at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University. Taylor said in an affidavit that police had pressured him to name Porter as the shooter.

A few weeks later, Protess, Ciolino, and two students obtained a signed affidavit and videotaped statement from a woman named Inez Jackson admitting that her husband, Alstory Simon, had in fact killed the couple. Alstory Simon's now-estranged wife, told Protess, Ciolino, and two of the students that she had been present when Simon shot Green and Hillard. She said she did not know Anthony Porter, but that he most certainly had nothing to do with the crime. Four days later, on February 3, Alstory Simon confessed on videotape to Ciolino, asserting that he had killed Hillard in self-defense after the two argued over drug money. Simon claimed the shooting of Marilyn Green had been accidental. Simon pleaded guilty to the double murder and was sentenced to 37 years in prison. Two days later, Porter was released from prison on a recognizance bond and the murder charges against him were officially dropped the next month. Porter thus became the tenth person sentenced to death in Illinois under the present capital punishment law to be released based on innocence.
It's like a heavy load just lift up, like something came up out my whole body. Like release. Cause I been for so long saying that I was innocent and nobody weren't listening to what I was saying." -- Anthony Porter
For that to happen even once is unjust. For that to happen thirteen times is shameful and beyond belief." -- Gov. George Ryan

In the late 1970s, during a tough-on-crime push, politicians were putting pressure on police to convict someone for the double murder and rape of a white couple at a gas station. In what became known as the Ford Heights Four case, police quickly arrested four black men from the poverty-stricken Ford Heights neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago.

 Dennis Williams (top left), who died of a brain aneurysm six years after his exoneration, Verneal Jimerson (bottom left), Kenneth Adams and Willie Rainge were all convicted and sentenced to death for the 1978 double murder, despite the fact that there was no physical evidence linking the four to the crime.

In 1983, Rob Warden exposed serious problems with the case, but it took another 14 years to exonerate the innocent men, resulting in a total of 18 years on Illinois' Death Row for a crime they didn't commit. The exoneration came about as a result of monumental efforts by a legal team that included Lawrence C. Marshall and a student investigative team headed by Northwestern Professor David Protess. By the time the men were freed, DNA had excluded all of the men. Moreover, the investigative team had uncovered evidence leading to the arrest of the actual killers, who eventually confessed, were convicted, and were sentenced to prison.

The miscarriage of justice resulted from coercion of one witness for the prosecution, perjury by another who had a financial incentive to lie, false forensic testimony, and police and prosecutorial misconduct. In contrast to the lack of moral character exhibited by those in authority, Verneal Jimerson, left, turned down several opportunities to get out of prison by testifying against the other three defendants. The story of the Ford Heights Four is told in a book Rob Warden co-authored with Northwestern University Professor David Protess — A Promise of Justice, Hyperion (1998). So egregious was the official misconduct that in 1999 Cook County settled lawsuits filed by the Ford Heights Four for $36 million — the largest civil rights payment in U.S. history.
Verneal Jimerson and Dennis Williams were two of the so-called Ford Heights Four, a south suburb in Cook County. The primary testimony against them came from a seventeen-year-old girl, with an IQ of less than sixty who police said was an accomplice in the murder of a couple. Seventeen years later, Jimerson, Williams and two others serving lesser sentences were released after new DNA tests revealed that none of them were linked to the crime. Later that year, two other men confessed to the crime and were [put in] prison. Seventeen years! Seventeen years! Can you imagine serving even one day on Death Row for a crime you did not commit? -- Gov. George Ryan
A list of all Illinois exonerations

Tonight, I watched the episode, Newlywed Murders, on Investigation Discovery's On the Case with Paula Zahn which focused on the 1986 double murder of newlyweds Dyke and Karen Rhoads, and the wrongful conviction of Randy Steidl (left) who was arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to death within 90 days for the double murder. He spent a total of 17 years in jail, 12 of those on death row.

The murdered newlyweds were married in 1986 and later that year, were found stabbed to death in their home. Believing that the crime was the result of a drug deal gone wrong, detectives arrested and charged Herb Whitlock, who received a life sentence, and Randy Steidl with the double murder. An investigation by Illinois State police proved that local law enforcement and prosecutors had framed Randy and co-defendant Herbert Whitlock.  Ironically, Randy's brother, Rory was an Illinois policeman of 25 years.

 In 2003, federal judge Michael McCuskey overturned Randy's conviction and ordered a new trial, stating that if the proper evidence had been originally investigated and presented it was "reasonably probable" that Randy would have been acquitted by the jury. The state re- investigated the case, tested DNA evidence, and found no link to Randy.

On May 28, 2004 – after 17 years, 3 months and 3 weeks of wrongful imprisonment – Randy was released, but never received a pardon or compensation, despite being brutally robbed of the majority of his adult life. Randy became the 18th person to be freed because of a wrongful conviction after serving time on the state's death row since Illinois reinstated the death penalty in 1977.

Today, Randy seeks to become more active in the movement against the death penalty as he believes that "one innocent life lost by execution is not worth ten guilty persons being executed." The Center On Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University's School of Law has been working for nearly ten years to help people understand why the innocent sometimes get sent to jail and to work toward reforming a system that allows it to happen. A new part of their mission is to help the exonerated so they can clear their records and start anew.

Exonerated Illinois death row inmates Darby Tillis (upper left) and Perry Cobb (lower left) were put on trial more times than any other defendant in U.S. history. On November 13, 1977, Melvin Kanter and Charles Guccion were shot to death during a robbery of a hot-dog stand on Chicago's north side.

Three weeks later, a woman named Phyllis Santini went to the police with a story accusing Tillis and Cobb of the crime, claiming she had driven the getaway car. Tillis and Cobb, who did not know each other and knew nothing of the crime, were arrested and charged with the murders. When Cobb was apprehended - without a warrant - the police discovered he had a watch belonging to one of the victims. Cobb insisted he had recently bought it for $10 from Johnny Brown, Phyllis Santini’s boyfriend. Johnny Brown would later be suspected of being the actual killer.

Throughout the first three trials, the prosecution’s case revolved around the watch (the only physical evidence), Santini’s accusation, and the testimony of Arthur Shields, a bartender at a tavern across the street from the hot-dog stand, who testified that he had seen two black men stand inside his tavern’s door around the time of the homicides. Two defense witnesses, offered testimony that Phyllis Santini had admitted to committing the murders with Brown and that she expected a reward for testifying against Cobb and Tillis. Santini was in fact paid $1,200. the presiding judge of the first three trials, Thomas J. Maloney refused to allow the testimony of these witnesses even after the defense made an offer of proof. Judge Maloney, who was later convicted in a federal trial of taking bribes in criminal cases (and was accused of being tough on the defendants who did not offer bribes, like Tillis and Cobb), never instructed the jury to review Santini’s testimony, that of an accomplice witness who could have been charged with the crime herself. Four years after Cobb and Tillis were sent to death row, the Illinois Supreme Court reversed and remanded their case.

The Supreme Court found that Judge Maloney’s refusal to direct the jury with accomplice instruction constituted a judicial error. The Court also found Maloney erred by not allowing the testimony implicating Santini and her boyfriend. After the reversal, Michael Falconer, a local lawyer, read an investigative story about the Cobb/Tillis case in Chicago Lawyer magazine. Falconer then came forward and reported that he had worked with Phyllis Santini in a factory many years ago. While there, Santini had told him that she and her boyfriend had robbed a restaurant and that her boyfriend had shot someone during the robbery. Despite Falconer’s story, prosecutors tried Cobb and Tillis two more times.

The fourth trial ended in a hung jury, but the fifth - a bench trial - resulted in an acquittal, largely due to Falconer’s testimony implicating Santini and Brown. On January 20, 1987, Darby Tillis and Perry Cobb - after spending eight years of their lives on death row - were finally cleared. In 2001, Illinois Governor George Ryan pardoned both men. Brown and Santini, in spite of all the evidence against them, have never been charged. Following his release, Perry Cobb found a job as a janitor in a Chicago apartment building, giving up his old singing career due to a loss of confidence following his experience on death row. Darby Tillis became a preacher and formed an organization to help released death row inmates readjust to society. He has actively campaigned for the death penalty moratorium in Illinois and elsewhere.

Despite these accomplishments, however, Tillis’s horrific experience on death row will always be with him: “When you get the death penalty, most of us try to stand up and take it like a man,” he later explained. “ Then you get to death row. You’re hit by the stench of Pinesol, feces, urine, body odor, sick odor. You are in the Death House…you’re warehoused for death, treated like contaminated meat to be disposed of. You sit there and await death, and the pain you know will come to you some day.” Exonerated death row inmate Darby Tillis speak out at the Campaign To End The Death Penalty's National Convention in 2003:
My name is Darby Tillis. I spent nine years, one month and 17 days in the penal system. I was tried five times, more than anyone in the judicial system throughout the United States. I’m part of Illinois’ exonerated--number one. I was released from death row, but I’m not free of death row. Death row is hell, and so is my life like hell. I have not been compensated. Death row lives within me today. It’s alive--the pain, the hurt. Every day is a day of bad memories. I cannot forget death row. I cannot forget the people who manufactured the lies and manufactured a case against me. There is one happy memory that I cannot forget--my judge, who is now doing 15 years in a federal penitentiary. George Ryan concluded his tenure as Illinois governor in the most dramatic fashion in the entire history of governors. Governor Ryan issued a blanket commutation for everyone in prison who was under the death penalty. Plus he pardoned four men on death row.

For those of us who believed that the death penalty should be abolished, we praised to the highest and celebrated. And for those who supported the death penalty, many screamed in anger and resentment. God used Governor Ryan to save lives and wipe the bloodstains of men from the judicial system. Abolition of the death penalty will follow, and the system will be changed forever. Judges, prosecutors, policemen will no longer be able to build careers for monetary gain. It’s time to abolish the death penalty. The time is now. Just the other day, I read in the Chicago Tribune that state Senator Emil Jones believes that a new bill has cleared up the death penalty. The death penalty cannot be cleared up. It is dead wrong. It is too final. You will not be able to take some little guy out of college, who knows nothing about society and its flaws and who wants to build a career to get a Porsche and raise up his status and buy a home in the suburbs for Susie. Do you think that he’s going to consider some guy who he thinks is no more than number on a legal brief? Do you think he is going to take consideration of his innocence? When he knows that if he finds him guilty, he can get that Porsche and a house in the suburbs for Susie? No. He’s not going to consider.
As long as men’s hearts are corrupt, and their minds are corrupt and crooked, we cannot have a death penalty. As long as alcohol and drugs run rampant in the streets, we cannot have a death penalty. We must abolish the death penalty. It is flawed--too flawed to be fixed. The magnitude of a capital case is too great to be tried without errors. And once the error is found, you cannot be brought back from the grave. Today, the death penalty continues to be imposed, despite the moratorium on executions. So I say to you tonight, we had a victory. But we want to win the whole war. We must continue to hold rallies and protests and do everything that’s conceivable to force the custodians of the court system to end the madness by taking politics out of the court system. We must end the death penalty, because the death penalty is dead wrong.

Ronald Kitchen was the 134th person exonerated from death row and the 20th in Illinois since 1973. Kitchen and a co-defendant were found guilty of the murders of two women and three children in 1988. His conviction was based primarily on a confession that was extracted ruthlessly by Detective Michael Kill, who worked under Police Commander Jon Burge and his ring of sadistic detectives at Chicago's Area II and III police stations. Burge and his detectives systematically used electroshock, suffocation via "bagging" and cattle prods to torture confessions out of poor Blacks. With no physical evidence, witnesses or motive to connect Ronny to the crime, prosecutors resorted to the use of an informant to back up the "confession." While behind bars, jailhouse snitch Willie Williams contacted police after seeing a newspaper clipping about the murders Ronny was accused of. He said he knew who did it and that Ronny had bragged about the murders in a phone conversation before being arrested. But Ronny's attorney, Richard Cunningham, found that there was no phone records of one of the calls Willie claims to have made to Ronny from prison. In addition, on two other calls recorded by police, Ronny never confesses.
Ronny was just walking home from the grocery store, where he had picked up some cookie dough for his kids, when detectives grabbed him and took him to an interrogation room -- then proceeded to beat him until he confessed to a multiple murder. "When I told [Officer Smith] that I didn't know these people, he started hitting me in the groin like Officer Kill and [Commander] Burge did," Ronny says. "Before he left the room, he told me, 'We have ways of making niggers talk,' and when he came back into the room, he had a blackjack and telephone book...Ten minutes later, Officer Kill came and started to hit me in the head and groin area again. He said, 'You're going to do what we told you to do.'"
Finally, on July 7, 2009, after Ronald Kitchen spent thirteen of his 21 years behind bars on death row, he was released from prison as prosecutors dropped all charges against him and his co-defendant, citing insufficient evidence to retry them for five murders that occurred in 1988. "It really hasn't hit me yet," said Kitchen, upon leaving the courts building after serving more than two decades in prison for the murders. "It's, like, surreal.”Kitchen was reunited with his sons, one of whom was born while he was in prison, and his family. In this video, Ronald and his lawyers from Northwestern Law School talk about his case.

 In January of 1994, Gary Gauger of McHenry County, Illinois was wrongfully sentenced to death for the murder of his parents, despite an exhaustive search, no physical evidence was found linking Gauger to the crime. After an all-night interrogation, Gauger made statements that police and prosecutors claimed constituted a confession. He was sentenced to die based only on an unrecorded testimony he denied making. In March of 1996, Gauger was freed on appeal because of trial improprieties. The true murderer of his parents was discovered several years after Gauger’s case was reversed and remanded. Morris and Ruth Gauger were murdered on April 8, 1993 at their McHenry County farm, where they, in addition to farming, operated a motorcycle shop and sold imported rugs. Gauger, who lived with his parents, discovered his 74-year-old father’s body the next day and called 911 to summon paramedics, who notified sheriff’s police. Shortly after deputies arrived, they found the body of 70-year-old Ruth in a trailer from which the rugs were sold. Gauger was indicted on May 5, 1993, on two counts of murder. He denied that he had confessed, claiming he had made the statements only hypothetically after his interrogators persuaded him it was possible he had committed the double murder during an alcoholic blackout. The statements were not electronically recorded, and deputies made no contemporaneous recording of them. At a hearing on a pretrial motion to suppress the alleged confession, Gary testified that deputies had induced him to speculate about how he might have committed the crime. He said they accomplished this by telling him that he had failed a polygraph examination and that clothes drenched in his parents’ blood had been found in his room. In fact, the polygraph had been inconclusive and there were no blood-drenched clothes. At trial, the jury heard the official version of Gary’s allegedly inculpatory statements. According to deputies, Gary told them he committed the crimes by coming upon his parents from behind, pulling their heads back by their hair, and cutting their throats. The only evidence introduced to corroborate the alleged statements was the testimony of a pathologist who performed autopsies on the bodies and a state forensic scientist who examined loose hairs found near Ruth’s body. After the jury found him guilty on both counts, Gary waived a jury for sentencing and was sentenced to death by Judge Henry L. Cowlin of January 11, 1994. Nine months later, after Northwestern University Law Professor Lawrence C. Marshall agreed to take the case on appeal, Cowlin reduced the sentence to life in prison. On March 8, 1996, the Second District Illinois Appellate Court unanimously reversed and remanded the case for a new trial on the ground that Cowlin erred in failing to grant a motion to suppress Gary’s allegedly inculpatory statements. In an unpublished opinion written by Judge S. Louis Rathje, with Judges Robert D. McLaren and Fred A. Geiger concurring, the court held that the statements were the fruit of an arrest made without probable cause and therefore should not have been admitted at the trial.  Without the confession, McHenry County State’s Attorney Gary W. Pack had no choice but to drop the charges, and set Gary free. Pack continued to suggest publicly that Gary had in fact committed the crime and was freed only because the prosecution could not meet its burden of proof without the confession. Pack’s position was severely undermined in June of 1997, however, when a federal grand jury in Milwaukee indicted two members of a Wisconsin motorcycle gang known as the Outlaws for 34 acts of racketeering, including the murder of the Gaugers. One of the Outlaws, James Schneider, pleaded guilty to acts relating to the murders in 1998. The other, Randall E. Miller, was convicted of the charges in U.S. District Court in Milwaukee in June of 2000. At Miller’s trial, prosecutors played tape recordings in which Miller was heard to say that the authorities had nothing to link him to the Gauger murders because he had been careful not to leave any physical evidence. The recordings had been made by an Outlaw who turned government informant. After his release, Gauger returned to farming in McHenry County.
 Joseph Burrows , the third person to be exonerated from Illinois's death row, was convicted of murder and armed robbery. The prosecution's primary evidence was the testimony of the two men who also had been charged with the murder. Direct evidence implicated the two, but by naming an alleged accomplice they escaped the death penalty. Burrows was tried twice, the first trial ending in a hung jury, the second in a verdict of guilt and a sentence of death. Two years later, after the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed Burrows’s conviction and death sentence, one - who had an IQ of 76 - of the two men recanted his testimony, saying the police had intimidated him into falsely confessing and implicating Burrows. He discovered a letter Potter had written asking a friend to falsely testify that he had seen her in a blue pickup truck that she claimed Burrows had driven to and from the crime scene. Confronted with the letter, Potter admitted that she had falsely accused Burrows and Frye to minimize her own culpability and because she thought, mistakenly, that Burrows had burglarized her trailer. She admitted that she alone had killed the elderly victim in an attempted robbery to obtain drug money. After a hearing at which Frye and Potter testified, Burrows won a new trial. The prosecution unsuccessfully appealed and eventually dropped the charges. Burrows was released on September 8, 1994, five years, one month, and seven days after he was sentenced to death. His left arm bore a prison tattoo from Death Row: "Die Free." After his release, he was employed by a landscaping company in the Champaign-Urbana area. He filed a civil rights suit, which was settled for a mere $100,000, a small fraction of what comparable cases would be settled for in the years ahead. In 2005, Burrows was convicted of possession of chemicals he allegedly used in the manufacture of methamphetamine and sentenced to six years in prison. With day-for-day good time, he was released in 2008. On October 15, 2009, fifteen years after his release from Death Row, he died at age fifty-six. Burrows spent five years on death row before a court reversed his conviction and dropped all charges.
I've sat in a cage for five and a half years and watched my life crumble. Things build up on you until you're ready to scream." -- Joseph Burrows
The "Death Row 10" or "Jon Burge 10" which included, Ronald Kitchen, Madison Hobley, Leroy Orange, Leonard Kidd, Aaron Patterson, Andrew Maxwell, Stanley Howard, Derrick King, Reginald McHaffey, Jerry McHaffey and Frank Bounds (R.I.P) were all victims of torture and abuse that they received at the hands of former Lt. Jon Burge and his ring of sadistic and racist detectives at Chicago's Area 2 and 3 police stations on the Southside of Chicago. They were later shown to have engaged in systematic torture of suspects in criminal cases.    Two of the ten who were later exonerated:  Madison Hobley was convicted of seven counts of felony murder, aggravated arson and incarcerated for sixteen years, nearly thirteen of those years on death row for a crime he did not commit. Four officers claimed Hobley admitted setting a fire that claimed the lives of his wife, infant son, and five other persons early the morning of January 6, 1987, at an apartment building in the 1100 block of East 82nd Street in Chicago. When the fire broke out, Hobley, 26, escaped the flames without shoes and wearing only underwear. He consistently maintained his innocence, alleging that the officers tortured him and — when that failed — fabricated a confession. In addition to Hobley’s wife, Anita, 21, and their 15-month-old son, Philip, the fire victims were Schalise Lindsey, 7, Shelone Holton, 23, Johnnie Mae Dodds, 34, Anthony Bradford, 36, and Robert Stephens, 40.  The morning after the fire, two Area 2 police detectives, Robert Dwyer and James Lotito, found Hobley at his mother’s home about a mile from the fire scene. Dwyer and Lotito claimed that Hobley voluntarily went with them to Area 2 headquarters and then to central police headquarters at 1121 South State Street — where, they said, he confessed. Hobley denied not only that he confessed but also that he had any choice about going with Dwyer and Lotito. He claimed that Dwyer handcuffed him to a wall ring at Area 2 and beat him, after which he was taken downtown, where he was handcuffed to a chair and kicked by Sergeant Patrick Garrity. Then, according to Hobley, Dwyer, Lotito, and Detective Daniel McWeeny suffocated him with a plastic typewriter cover until he blacked out. At Hobley’s jury trial before Cook County Circuit Court Judge Christy Berkos in 1990, the prosecution case rested primarily — although not entirely — on the testimony of the four officers, all of whom denied abusing Hobley in any way. They claimed that Hobley had twice been advised of his right to remain silent and to consult a lawyer but that he elected to waive his rights and proceeded to confess. According to the officers, Hobley related that he went to a filling station with a can, bought a dollar’s worth of gasoline, went home, emptied the can into the hallway outside his third-floor apartment and down the stairwell, ignited the gasoline with a match, and threw the can down in the second-floor hallway. This he did, it was alleged, that he might start a new life with a woman with whom he had recently had an affair. There was no record of the purported confession. Dwyer said he took notes on Hobley’s confession, but threw them away after something was spilled on them. "Quite frankly they were soaking wet," he testified. "You know, ink was running on them." Garrity testified that he also took notes, but they indicated only that Hobley made "admissions." The alleged gasoline purchase The prosecutors — Assistant Cook County State’s Attorneys George Velcich and Paul Tsukuno — presented two witnesses purporting to link Hobley to the purchase of a dollar’s worth of gasoline, in a can, at an Amoco station in the 8300 block of South Cottage Grove Avenue less than an hour before the fire. Andre Council, a customer at the station, testified that he stood five feet from the man as he pumped the gasoline. After the man paid for the gasoline and left, Council said he visited with the attendant, Kenneth Stewart, for 30 to 45 minutes before fire trucks went roaring past. A little later, Council said he went to the fire scene, about half a mile from the station, where he saw the man whom he had seen buy the gasoline. The next day, Council continued, he saw a photograph of Hobley on television and recognized him, whereupon Council called the police. Steward, the station attendant, testified that a man had bought a dollar’s worth of gasoline while Council was at the station. At a lineup the day after the fire, however, Stewart initially failed to identify Hobley. After officers pressed him to identify someone, Stewart responded that Hobley "favored" the man who bought the gasoline, but added that he was not certain. Purported physical corroboration To corroborate Hobley’s alleged confession and other aspects of the prosecution theory of the crime, Velcich and Tsukuno introduced into evidence a two-gallon gasoline can that another Chicago Police Detective John Paladino testified he discovered at the fire scene. Detective Virgil Mikus, a Chicago police detective who testified as an arson expert for the prosecution, told the jury that a burn pattern on the floor in front of the Hobley apartment indicated that gasoline had been poured there. Mikus acknowledged that tests showed no traces of gasoline in the area — but claimed it must have been washed away by water firefighters used to extinguish the fire. Sentence and appeals When the jury found nothing in mitigation sufficient to preclude imposition of the death penalty, Berkos sentenced him accordingly and, in 1994, the Illinois Supreme Court upheld Hobley’s conviction and death sentence, calling the evidence "overwhelming." People v. Hobley, 159 Ill. 2d 272 (1994).  The following year, Hobley’s appellate attorneys — Professor Andrea Lyon, of the DePaul University College of Law, and Kurt H. Feuer, of Ross & Hardies — filed a petition for post-conviction relief in the Circuit Court alleging that the authorities had illegally withheld a forensic report stating that the gasoline can introduced into evidence at the trial had been examined for fingerprints and that Hobley’s were not on it. During the trial, Velcich and Tsukuno had denied the existence of such a report. More important, Lyon and Feuer alleged that the authorities had withheld a group of reports showing that police had recovered a second gasoline can at the scene of the fire and had destroyed it. The implication of these reports was not only that the fire had been set by someone other than Hobley but that the can introduced at the trial had been planted to corroborate Hobley’s alleged confession. Circuit Court Judge Dennis J. Porter, however, drew no such inference. He denied Hobley’s petition without a hearing. In 1998, the Supreme Court found the new evidence sufficiently troubling to reverse Porter and remanded the case for an evidentiary hearing. "At defendant’s trial, the defense theory was that another person had started the fire," said the court. "The negative fingerprint report and the existence of a second gasoline can found at the fire scene certainly would have offered concrete evidentiary support to that defense theory." People v. Hobley, 182 Ill. 2d 404 (1998). The evidentiary hearing On May 31, 2002 — two years and two days after the Supreme Court ordered the evidentiary hearing — Judge Porter complied. The hearing dragged on intermittently for more than two years, during which, in addition to documenting the withheld exculpatory evidence, Lyon and Feuer showed that Andre Council, the principal witness who linked Hobley to the purchase of gasoline before the fire, had himself been a suspect in an arson that occurred on March 17, 1987. At this point, former Area 2 Commander Jon Burge was commander of the department’s bomb and arson unit. He issued an order waiving a fingerprint check for Council and releasing him on a personal recognizance bond. This was six years before Burge would be fired for torturing suspects while working in various capacities at Area 2. Evidence was presented indicating that the jury had been intimidated. A group of jurors having dinner while sequestered reported that they were taunted by other diners, "You know he’s guilty," "Give him the death penalty," and "Hang the motherfucker." Also, during deliberations, the jury foreman, a suburban police officer, placed a revolver on the jury table and proclaimed, "We'll reach a verdict."  The evidence supporting the claim that the gasoline can introduced at the trial had been planted was presented by an arson expert retained by the defense — Russell Ogel, of Packer Engineering, Inc. He testified that the can bore no signs of exposure to extreme heat that destroyed other items in the area where it purportedly had been found; not even the plastic cap on the can had been damaged. Ogel also testified that — contrary to the prosecution expert’s contention at Hobley’s trial — there was no evidence of burn patterns on the third floor of the building. Rather, said Ogel, tests showed that the fire started in a stairwell lower in the building. Porter found the new evidence unpersuasive. On July 8, 2002, he denied Hobley a new trial saying, "There is no showing the favorable evidence could reasonably be taken to put the whole case in such a different light as to undermine confidence in the verdict." Pardon based on innocence Lyon and Feuer appealed and filed a petition seeking a full pardon based on innocence with the Illinois Prisoner Review Board, which conducts hearings on such requests and makes confidential recommendations to the governor. On October 18, 2002, the board heard Hobley’s petition, and on January 9, 2003, Governor George H. Ryan granted the pardon. "Madison Hobley was convicted on the basis of flawed evidence," Ryan said. "He was convicted because the jury did not have the benefit of all existing evidence, which would have served to exonerate him."
I was raised in a pretty integrated neighborhood. Before taking me to that interrogation room, no one had ever called me a ‘nigger.’ I knew the odds about the black man, how easy he can end up in the penitentiary. I walked the straight path. I did all the things a person would do to avoid being in that situation. I went to school, had a job, settled down. But still, I’m taken into custody by these narrow-minded, evil, wicked men. We pay them to uphold the law, and these men looked me in the eye and told me that they hated me because of the color of my skin and that they didn’t care about the people who died in the fire, including my wife and child, that whoever set that fire did them a favor, because ‘nothing but niggers’ died." -- Madison Hobley “People ask me, ‘Are things back to normal?’ I don’t know what normal is. Take those sixteen years away, bring me my wife and child back, and give me back my name, the way I was—it will never be normal. I’ll never regain the life I had.”—Madison Hobley
Leroy Orange, another unwilling member of the "Death Row 10", spent 19 years on death row before Governor Ryan pardoned him. Orange was arrested and questioned about the murders of four persons, four murders that his half-brother, Leonard Kidd, testified he alone committed without Orange’s participation or knowledge. The conviction rested primarily on Orange’s confession, which he contended had been extracted by torture — beating, suffocation, electroshock — at the hands of Chicago Police Lieutenant Jon Burge and other officers at Area 2 police headquarters on the city’s south side. Orange was among 14 Chicago men sentenced to death based in whole or part on confessions allegedly extracted by torture in south side police stations during the 1980s. Arrests and confessions Orange, 32, and Kidd, 29, were arrested on January 12, 1984, the day after the bodies of two women, a man, and a child were found in an apartment at 1553 West 91st Street. The victims — Renee Coleman, 27, Michelle Jointer, 30, Ricardo Pedro, 25, and Coleman’s 10-year-old son, Tony — had been bound and stabbed. Two fires had been set in the apartment. Kidd, who was wearing Pedro’s watch when he was arrested, initially told officers that he and Orange had been at Coleman’s apartment in the early morning hours of January 11. Sometime around 4:30 a.m., according to Kidd’s initial statement, Orange began arguing with Pedro. Fearing the situation would turn violent, Kidd left the apartment just as "two dudes" armed with knives arrived. Kidd claimed that he waited outside, where a little later he saw the two men leave, one wearing a jacket drenched in blood. Orange’s confession followed — after more than 12 hours of interrogation and, he said, intermittent torture. The confession consisted of answers to leading questions based on Kidd’s initial story. After obtaining the confessions, the police brought Orange and Kidd face to face, whereupon Kidd offered a different account of the crime. He now admitted lying about the two other men arriving at the scene and said that he had been present when Orange killed the victims. Kidd then led the police to knives used in crime, which had been discarded in garbage cans. Based on their statements, Orange and Kidd were indicted by a Cook County grand jury for murder, concealment of homicidal deaths, aggravated arson, and armed robbery. Orange promptly told virtually everyone with whom he came into contact — his cellmate, a physician who examined him, relatives and friends who visited him in jail, the assistant public defender assigned to his case, and the judge before whom he was arraigned on January 14 — that he had been tortured. Private counsel Orange and Kidd were eligible to be represented by the Cook County Public Defender’s Office, but their family rejected that option and retained private counsel — Earl Washington. Despite the conflict inherent in representing co-defendants with conflicting defenses, Washington accepted both clients. Three months later, recognizing the conflict, he withdrew from the Kidd case. Although Orange promptly told Washington about the torture, Washington did not investigate. He filed a motion to suppress the confession, but withdrew it when Circuit Court Judge Arthur J. Cieslik deemed it inadequate. Cieslik offered Washington an opportunity to file a more detailed motion, but Washington failed to do so. The trial At Orange’s 1985 trial, his confession was virtually the entire prosecution case. Orange took the stand in his own defense, claiming innocence. He testified that he had been with the victims the night before the crime, but had left them alive and well around 2:30 a.m. Kidd then took the stand, testifying, against the advice of the public defenders appointed to represent him after Washington withdrew from the case, that he alone committed the murders after Orange left the apartment. In rebuttal, the prosecution called Area 2 officers, who denied torturing either man. A jail physician, who examined Orange two days after the alleged torture, testified she observed no sign that he had been mistreated. After the jury found Orange guilty, Washington stipulated to his client’s eligibility for the death penalty. When Cieslik asked if he wished to present evidence in mitigation, Washington responded, "No, your honor. Other than to state to your honor that we feel that there is a lack of significant criminal history on the part of this defendant. We are mindful of the two juvenile convictions, but we feel that that does not fall within the category that is anticipated by the statute in which a lack of significant criminal history should be considered as a mitigating factor. Other than that, we have no mitigation." Absent mitigating evidence, the jury found nothing to preclude imposition of the death penalty, and Cieslik sentenced Orange accordingly. Kidd’s fate With his half-brother on death row, Kidd pleaded guilty before Judge Cieslik in August 1985 to the murders he already had testified he alone committed. Cieslik accepted the plea and scheduled a death penalty hearing before a jury beginning three days later. Before jury selection began, however, Kidd’s attorneys made an oral motion to withdraw the plea. Cieslik asked for the motion in writing and proceeded with the hearing. After a court reporter read the testimony Kidd had given at the Orange trial, the jury found Kidd eligible for the death penalty, at which point Cieslik denied the defense motion to withdraw the plea. The prosecution then presented evidence in aggravation linking Kidd to a 1980 arson fire in which 10 children had died. Kidd took the stand on his own behalf, acknowledging the 1984 murders to which he had pleaded guilty but denying that he had anything to do with the 1980 fire. After the jury found nothing in mitigation to preclude imposition of the death penalty, Cieslik sentenced Kidd to join his half-brother on death row. Three years later, Kidd went on trial before Circuit Court Judge James M. Schreier and a jury for the 1980 murders. Before the trial, Kidd’s public defenders attempted to waive the jury for sentencing. They wanted to do this because, under Witherspoon v. Illinois, 391 U.S. 510 (1969), prospective jurors who say they would not impose a death sentence may be excluded from sitting in the guilt-determination phase of a trial if they also might participate in sentencing. A sizeable body of research had shown that excluding such jurors made juries more prone to convict, and a conviction-prone jury was something Kidd’s lawyers wanted to avoid. Schreier refused to allow the waiver and a death-qualified jury proceeded to find Kidd guilty of the murders. At the sentencing phase of the trial, the jury found nothing in mitigation to preclude imposition of the death penalty, and Schreier imposed a second death sentence against Kidd. Two years later, the Illinois Supreme Court overturned Kidd’s death sentence for the 1984 murders, holding that Cieslik had abused his discretion by denying Kidd’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea. People v. Kidd, 129 Ill. 2d 432 (1989). Three years after that, the Supreme Court overturned Kidd’s death sentence for the 1980 murders, holding that Schreier had abused his discretion by denying Kidd’s motion to waive the jury for sentencing. People v. Kidd, 147 Ill. 2d 510 (1992). Prosecutors retried Kidd and won death sentences in both cases. This time, the convictions and sentences were affirmed. People v. Kidd, 175 Ill. 2d 1 (1996), People v. Kidd, 178 Ill. 2d 92 (1997). Kidd remained on death row until January 11, 2003, when Governor George Ryan commuted his sentence to life in prison without parole. The Orange appeals After Orange’s conviction and death sentence were affirmed on direct appeal, People v. Orange, 121 Ill. 2d 364 (1988), he filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief in the trial court. Bluhm Legal Clinic Director Thomas F. Geraghty and clinic students entered the case and filed an amended petition alleging that Earl Washington’s failure to investigate the torture allegations and to present evidence in mitigation constituted ineffective assistance of counsel. Because Judge Cieslik had retired, the case was assigned to Judge Thomas F. Durkin, who denied the petition without an evidentiary hearing. On appeal, the Supreme Court reversed Durkin, ordering an evidentiary hearing. People v. Orange, 168 Ill. 2d 138 (1995). The case then went to Judge Daniel Locallo, who vacated Orange’s death sentence and ordered a new sentencing hearing. At this point, Geraghty filed a successor petition for post-conviction relief based on new evidence supporting the torture claims, but Locallo denied it without a hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed the denial of the successor petition, People v. Orange, 195 Ill. 2d 437 (2001), and the case went to Judge Schreier — who had been reversed in the Kidd case — for a new sentencing hearing. The hearing was pending when Governor Ryan on January 10, 2003, granted Orange a full pardon based on innocence, criticizing prosecutors and the judiciary for relying on "procedural technicalities at the exclusion of the quest for truth" throughout the case.
Aaron Patterson is another member of the "Death Row 10". He was tortured by Chicago police and brought up on trumped up charges originally in 1986, when he was framed for the double homicide of an elderly couple. During a 25-hour police interrogation, Aaron was bound, beaten and suffocated by Chicago cops at Area 2 Headquarters. The officers repeatedly pulled a plastic hood over Aaron’s head, threatening to suffocate him. When suffocation didn’t yield a confession from Aaron, Lt. Jon Burge entered the room and threatened him with a gun. He then confessed to the April 1986 stabbing of an elderly couple in Chicago but Patterson never signed the confession and during his interrogation scrawled, "I lie about murders, police threaten me with violence," into a bench with a paper clip. Aaron was convicted and sentenced to death even though no physical evidence linked him to the crime. In fact, fingerprints from the crime scene did not match Aaron’s. The evidence conveniently disappeared from police and prosecutors’ files. In addition to the police-written confession, the state used a statement from a 16-year-old girl, Marva Hall. She has since recanted and stated that the prosecutor threatened her with jail and coached her statement. For years, the courts rejected Aaron’s appeals. Finally, in 2003, after Gov. Ryan of Illinois acknowledged the torturing tactics of the Chicago Police Department under the leadership of Lt. Jon Burge and tenure of then prosecutor and now Mayor Richard M. Daley, Patterson and three other prisoners were released, a moratorium was placed on the death penalty and restitution was deemed to be paid.
 Stanley Howard - another member of the "Death Row 10" - at age 23, was convicted of the murder of Oliver Ridgell in 1987, and later sentenced to death on the basis of a confession extracted under torture by Chicago's Area 2 detectives. Howard lived in a cell no bigger than a bathroom for 16 years. Ridgell was shot while sitting in his car with Tecora Mullen, who was unharmed. She identified Howard as the shooter who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, as Howard had just been arrested on an unrelated warrant, and came close enough fit the description of the shooter provided by Tecora Mullen, . At trial, one of the main pieces of evidence against Howard was his statement to the police. Howard, however, always maintained that his confession was obtained by police torture. In his statement, Howard said he was having dinner with his girlfriend, then went to the house of a friend, Byron Hopkins, to “pick up a gun” so he could “try to get me some money.” (State v. Howard, 588 N.E.2d 1044 (Ill. 1991)). In his statement, Howard also admitted that he ran to his girlfriend’s house after shooting Ridgell, which was a short distance from the crime scene. The defense team sought to discredit Howard’s confession at trial, pointing out all the contradictions in his statement. Howard’s girlfriend, Terry Jones, testified that she was living in a distant part of the city at the time of the crime, and Byron Hopkins presented a stipulation at trial that he did not own a 9-milimeter gun of the type that was used in the crime. The other evidence used against Howard was the testimony of Mullen, who had identified Howard in a lineup conducted in November 1984. However, Mullen admitted that it was dark and raining outside at the time of the shooting. In addition, Mullen's husband was originally a suspect in the murder (Id.), an alternative theory of the crime that the defense counsel was not allowed to present to the jury according to the Illinois Supreme Court (Id.). Howard was pardoned by Governor Ryan, and subsequently removed from death row but remains incarcerated for an unrelated offense. (Chicago Tribune, January 10, 2003)
 Lloyd Eldon Miller Jr., a 29-year-old cab driver with no prior criminal record, was convicted and sentenced to death in 1956 in Hancock County, Illinois, for the murder the previous year of 8-year-old Janice Elizabeth May, whose battered body was found in an abandoned rail car near her home not far from Burlington tracks in the town of Canton. Miller faced ten execution dates — coming within eight hours of execution once — before he was exonerated 15 years later. The conviction rested primarily on a confession that prosecutors persuaded the trial judge had been voluntarily signed. Miller claimed he signed the confession, which had been written out by a police officer, because police threatened him with the death penalty if he refused to sign it. No one seriously questioned the veracity of the confession, which seemed to have been corroborated by ample physical evidence. The most crucial piece of evidence was a pair of undershorts that Miller supposedly admitted, were his and that the prosecution said were stained with blood. Appellate lawyers hoping only to save Miller from execution soon discovered troubling facts about the prosecution case. Initially, they noted, the confession was inconsistent with known facts of the crime — an issue that Miller's trial counsel had neglected to explore. Miller's landlady, who had not testified at the trial, told the appellate lawyers that Miller had been asleep at home when the crime occurred, and it turned out that the jockey shorts were too small for Miller. The bombshell, however, was that the stain on the shorts that the prosecution had allowed the jury to believe was blood actually was paint. Moreover, the police and prosecutors had known all along that the stain was paint because the state crime laboratory had so reported. After Miller won a federal writ of habeas corpus, essentially exonerating him, the prosecution dropped all charges in 1971. The Illinois State Bar Association, which at the time handled attorney disciplinary matters, undertook an investigation of prosecutorial misconduct in the case. However, the association found no grounds for action. Its report noted that the prosecution had not actually said that the stain on the shorts was blood; rather the stain had been referred to in Miller's so-called confession as blood. By remaining silent on the issue, the prosecution merely allowed the jury to assume that the stain was blood. “The presence or absence of blood on the shorts,” said the disciplinary committee, “was not a material question in the case.” Scapegoat justice; Lloyd Miller and the failure of the American legal system by Willard J. Lasser, presents the sad story of Lloyd Miller. The author, a lawyer, recounts the happenings from the time of the murder until the case against the convicted murderer is closed 16 years later. The story starts with the suspect coerced into a confession and continues with suppressed and falsified evidence by the prosecution, the defense being denied access to evidence or reports, a criminalist falsely testifying in court, an unstable and unreliable witness helped by the prosecution to render perjured testimony, and the suspect being convicted and sentenced to death.
"The Miller case, was not merely an isolated failure of the American legal system, but rather a "demonstration of the weakness of an institution" ..."which shows clearly the ineptness, crudity and unfairness of the American system of criminal justice." -- William J. Lasser
Steven L. Manning, a former Chicago police officer and FBI informant, was sentenced to death by Cook County Circuit Court Judge Edward M. Fiala, Jr., on November 22, 1993, for the murder of James Pellegrino, a suburban trucker and former Manning business partner. The conviction and death sentence rested primarily on the testimony of a jailhouse informant, Thomas Dye. Pellegrino left home on May 14, 1990, after telling his wife Joyce that if he turned up dead she should call the FBI and report that Manning had killed him, and that's what she did after Pellegrino's body was found floating in the Des Plaines River near the Lawrence Avenue Bridge in Chicago on June 3. He had been shot in the head. His wrists and ankles were bound with duct tape and his head was in a plastic bag and covered with a towel. On July 26, 1990, Manning was arrested and placed in the Cook County Jail, where the FBI arranged for him to be assigned to a cell with Dye, a notorious con man, jailhouse informant, and cocaine dealer with a long criminal record, including ten felony convictions, dating to 1978. Dye had recently been sentenced to 14 years in prison on theft and firearms charges and was awaiting trial in three other felony cases. Dye soon reported that Manning had confessed to the Pellegrino murder. Since Dye was a known liar and perjurer, his claim carried little credibility without corroboration. In an effort to substantiate it, Cook County Assistant State's Attorneys Patrick J. Quinn and William G. Gamboney arranged for Dye to record conversations with Manning. On six hours of tape, Manning proceeded to say certain things that cast him in an unfavorable light, but there was nothing on the tapes about Pellegrino. Before the trial, Manning was taken to Clay County, Missouri, to face trial for the purported kidnaping of two Kansas City drug dealers, Charles Ford and Mark Harris. Although the alleged crime occurred in 1984, the charges were not filed until July 20, 1990, six days before Manning's arrest in the Pellegrino case. Dye proposed to Manning that they create a phony alibi for the Kansas City crime. With FBI approval, Dye's girlfriend, Sylvia Herrera, then met with Manning to concoct an alibi and thus became the Missouri prosecutors' star witness. The supposed victims could not identify Manning, but the sister of one of them tentatively picked him out of a photo spread. Her identification was uncertain, however, and she failed to identify him in the courtroom. A 1991 trial ended in a mistrial, due to a hung jury, but Manning was convicted at his second trial in January of 1992. Clay County Circuit Court Judge Frank Conley sentenced him to two consecutive life terms plus 100 years. The harsh sentences were based on Manning's prior record. He had been convicted in Cook County in March of 1987 of a $260,000 jewelry heist and sentenced to four years. As a result of that case, Manning was discharged from the Chicago police force and became an FBI informant. Even though no physical evidence linked Manning to the Pellegrino murder, Quinn and Gamboney proceeded to take Manning to trial before Judge Fiala and a jury in 1993. Because the murder allegedly had occurred during an armed robbery, it was a capital offense. Dye testified that Manning had confessed to the crime during six hours of taped conversations, but the recordings contained no such admission. Dye's explanation for the missing admissions were that they occurred during two brief gaps in the tapes, one of which resulted from a malfunction and the other from Dye accidentally covered the microphone, which was tucked into his underwear. Judge Fialia also permitted Joyce Pellegrino to testify that her husband had told her that if he turned up dead Manning killed him. The jury found Manning guilty and, after he waived his right to a jury sentencing hearing, he was sentenced to death by Fiala. The prosecutors then arranged for Dye's 14-year prison sentence to be cut to six years. On April 16, 1998, the Illinois Supreme Court reversed the conviction and remanded the case for a new trial, holding that Fiala had erred in allowing the jury to hear both Joyce Pellegrino's testimony and the Dye-Manning tapes, which contained irrelevant and prejudicial references to other crimes allegedly committed by Manning. On January 19, 2000, prosecutors dropped the charges. Manning thus became the thirteenth person exonerated and released from death row after capital punishment was resumed in 1977 in Illinois. The Missouri reversal Upon his release in Illinois, Manning was returned to Missouri to serve the prescribed sentences for his 1992 kidnaping conviction, which had been affirmed by the Missouri Appellate Court in 1994. After U.S. District Court Judge Ortrie D. Smith denied Manning's petition for a writ of habeas corpus, Manning appealed. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed and remanded the case on the ground of government misconduct, ineffective assistance of counsel, and judicial error. The government's use of an informant planted in Manning's cell violated his constitutional right to counsel and, as a result Judge Frank Conley should have suppressed it, said the Eighth Circuit, adding that the failure of Manning's trial counsel to object to the introduction of Sylvia Herrera's testimony was ineffective assistance of counsel. created a circumstance ripe for its agents to elicit incriminating statements from petitioner in the absence of counsel. The Eight Circuit order barred Sylvia Herrera from testifying at the retrial, leaving Clay County prosecutors with no case. Manning was exonerated on January 19, 2000, after which he was sent to Missouri, where he remained in prison on unrelated charges until February 26, 2004, when he also was exonerated of those charges. Manning filed a federal civil rights suit against his former FBI handlers, Robert Buchan and Gary Miller, whom he accused of framing him because he refused to continue working for them. On February 26, 2004, all charges were dropped, and Manning walked free after 14 years in custody for convictions predicated on informant testimony.
 Carl Lawson - became the state's ninth exonerated death row prisoner. After 8-year-old Terrence Jones was found murdered in an abandoned church near his East St. Louis home on July 27, 1989, a friend of his mother, Carl E. Lawson, was arrested because his bloody shoe print was found at the scene.was convicted and sentenced to death in 1989 for the murder of an 8-year-old boy in East St. Louis. After the Illinois Supreme Court reversed his conviction and ordered a new trial, Lawson got a hung jury in a second trial and was acquitted at a third trial, in 1996. At the trial, the state contended the print had been left by the killer, but Lawson said he made the print when he arrived at the church after the child's body was discovered. Unfortunately, Lawson, who was represented at trial by a former prosecutor who had handled his arraignment, did not have funds to hire an independent expert to examine the print. He was convicted by a St. Clair County jury and sentenced to death, but he won a new trial based on his lawyer's conflict of interest and the trial judge's denial of resources to hire forensic experts. By this time, an alternative suspect had been identified and the prosecution's shoe print theory was called into question. Still prosecutors tried Lawson two more times. At the first, the jury deadlocked, with 11 of its 12 members favoring acquittal. At the second a year later, Lawson was finally found not guilty. The alternative suspect has since died, without ever being investigated. Lawson's exoneration was unusual because the error was corrected without the help of volunteers outside the system. After his release, Lawson moved to Missouri, where he has had a difficult time finding steady employment. "It's hard," he says. "Not very many people want to hire a man who's been on Death Row."
Steven Smith was charged with the crime of killing Virdeen Willis Jr., an off-duty assistant warden at the Illinois penitentiary in Pontiac, who was shot to death outside the Shamrock Lounge on the south side of Chicago. Mr. Smith, who had been drinking in the bar was identified by a woman named Debrah Caraway, who claimed to have witnessed the murder. It was Caraway's testimony that ultimately sent Smith to death row, but that testimony was dubious for several reasons. First, Caraway had been smoking crack cocaine. Second, she claimed Willis was alone when the killer stepped out of shadows and fired the fatal shot, but two other witnesses said they were standing beside Willis when he was murdered. Third, Caraway's boyfriend, Pervis (Pepper) Bell, was an alternative suspect in the murder. Finally, Caraway, according to her account, was across the street when the crime occurred and, while she positively identified Smith, the two persons who were standing beside Willis were within only two or three feet of the killer and could not identify Smith. On February 19, 1999, the Illinois Supreme Court held that Caraway's testimony was less reliable than the contradictory testimony of the other witnesses and reversed the conviction outright, ordering Smith's release from prison. Smith's case is unusual in that the error was corrected without the intervention of volunteers outside the system. In August of 2002, Gov. George Ryan issued pardons to two former Death Row inmates, based on innocence to Steven Smith and Carl Lawson, both of whom had been convicted of murder and sentenced to death but were later exonerated, clearing the way for them to seek compensation from the state for their years in prison.
 Ronald Jones spent 8-years on death row for a crime he did not commit. On March 10, 1985, a 28-year-old mother of three was raped and murdered in an abandoned motel on the south side of Chicago. Seven months later, Chicago Police Detectives Steven Hood and John Markham obtained a signed confession to the crime from Ronald Jones, a 34-year-old alcoholic who lived in the neighborhood where the crime occurred. The detectives claimed the confession was voluntary, but Jones claimed he signed it because he had been beaten by Hood and Markham. Jones testified that Hood struck him in the head three or four times with a black object about six inches long before Markham said, "Don't hit him like this because he will bruise" and proceeded to punch Jones repeatedly in the stomach. Although the confession was dubious — it asserted that the victim was a prostitute when in fact she had no history of prostitution — Cook County Circuit Court Judge John E. Morrissey held it admissible at Jones's 1989 trial. No physical evidence linked Jones to the crime, but the signed confession said Jones had ejaculated; the state claimed that semen recovered from the victim was too small a quantity to test. Jones was convicted by a jury and sentenced to death by Morrissey. In 1994, Assistant Illinois Appellate Defender Richard Cunningham asked Morrissey to authorize DNA testing with technology that had not existed at the time of Jones's trial. Morrissey denied the request and, when reminded that prosecutors originally had contended Jones was the source of the semen recovered from the victim, snidely responded, "Save arguments like that for the press. They love it. I don't." Cunningham enlisted attorney Gary O. Pritchard to work on an appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court, and based on their briefs, the Supreme Court reversed Morrissey, ordering the testing. In 1997, the DNA testing established conclusively that Jones was not the source of the semen recovered from the victim. Even then, prosecutors refused to abandon the case. They stalled Jones's release until, facing a retrial, they finally dropped all charges against him on May 17, 1999.
Right now, my life is moving in slow motion. It's really a strange thing for me to be locked up for 15 years and now to be sent back out here in society with no income. I'm just supposed to move on, and it's not easy. I'm getting by day by day, but I'm going to survive." -- Ronald Jones answering the question, "What's your life like now?"
Ronald Jones speaks out.
Nathson Fields [Illinois Conviction: 1986, Acquitted: 2009]  Nathson Fields, 55, and a co-defendant were sentenced to death for the 1984 murders of two rival gang members. The original trial, however, was marred by corruption, as the the judge in the case, Circuit Judge Thomas Maloney, accepted a $10,000 bribe during the trial. Thomas Maloney, who died in 2008, was ultimately convicted and spent 13 years in prison for fixing murder trials. As a result, Fields and co-defendant Earl Hawkins were granted new trials in 1998. Hawkins, who had admitted to killing 15 to 20 people, testified against Fields in exchange for a lesser sentence. However, at Fields' retrial, Judge Vincent Gaughan found Hawkins "incredible," saying that "If someone has such disregard for human life, what regard will he have for his oath?" Fields spent almost twenty years in prison, including 11.5 years on death row. He was released on bond in 2003 while awaiting retrial and has been residing outside of Chicago. This is the 19th exoneration from death row in Illinois since 1973, which is second only to Florida in the number of exonerations. Following the not guilty verdict handed down by Judge Gaughan, Fields said, "I feel like my prayers have been answered...It's been 24 years of this ordeal for my family and my friends, and now with it coming to an end, it's like a dream come true." (M. Walberg, “23 years after judicial misconduct, ex-gang leader freed," Chicago Tribune, April 9, 2009). (R. Hussain, Man formerly on death row acquitted in retrial,” Chicago Sun-Times, April 8, 2009). See also People v. Hawkins, et al., 181 Ill.2d 41 (January 29, 1998) (upholding a circuit court's reversal of Fields' and Hawkins' convictions).
In Indiana, the death penalty is available only for the crime of murder, and is available for murder only if the prosecution can prove the existence of at least one of 16 “aggravating circumstances” identified by the Indiana General Assembly. These circumstances are set out in the state’s death penalty statute, at IC 35-50-2-9. In order to seek the death penalty, the prosecutor must allege the existence of at least one of the aggravating circumstances set out in the statute. In Indiana, 2 men have been sentenced to death and later acquitted at new trials.
 Larry Hicks - Represented by an incompetent public defender, Larry Hicks, a dirt-poor, mentally retarded 19-year-old black man from the deep ghetto of Gary, Indiana, was sentenced to die in the Indiana electric chair for supposedly murdering two men by stabbing them to death in a fight inside a Gary home in a trial that lasted little over one day. Before that trial, Larry's public defender (PD) wasn't even aware that his client faced the death penalty until a week before the trial took place. (The lawyer admitted this in open court before trial, and it is in the transcript.) Larry's PD failed to investigate Larry's alibi that he wasn't present at the time the brutal slayings took place, failed to examine the dark red stains on the jeans Larry wore on the night of the murders (which stains, without chemical examination, the prosecution would term "blood"), failed to examine the knife which the state claimed Larry used to stab the two men, and -- as revealed by the PD's 1/4-inch thick file on this death penalty case -- otherwise totally failed to prepare for the one and a half day long murder trial that would result in Larry Hicks being sentenced to die in Indiana's electric chair.  Two weeks prior to his scheduled execution, with the help of a volunteer attorney, Hicks received a stay. The Playboy Foundation became interested in this claim of innocence and supplied funds for a reinvestigation after he passed lie detector tests. At retrial, Hicks was acquitted and released after evidence established Hicks's alibi and showed that eyewitness testimony against him at his original trial was perjured.
Charles Smith was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in Allen County in 1983 for a street robbery and murder of a woman. The man who claimed to be the getaway driver had his charges dropped in exchange for testifying against Smith. The Indiana Supreme Court overturned his conviction in 1989 because of ineffective assistance of counsel. (Smith v. State, 547 N.E.2d 817 (Ind. 1989). He was acquitted at his re-trial and released in 1991 after presenting evidence that witnesses against him had lied under oath.
Larry Osborne - the youngest person on death row at the time at 17-years old - spent three years on death row, after being convicted of the December 1997 murders of an elderly couple, before being exonerated on August 1, 2002. Osborne won a retrial after the Supreme Court ruled in 2001, that Whitley Circuit Judge Paul Braden was wrong to allow into evidence a statement made by a witness, Joe Reid, who later died, Osborne's alleged 15-year-old accomplice, who drowned in a swimming accident five months before Osborne's first trial. Osborne was charged with the Dec. 14, 1997, slayings of Sam Davenport, 82, and his wife, Lillian Davenport, 76, after a break-in at the home where the couple had lived for 46 years. The prosecutor said someone disabled the elderly couple, then set the house on fire. The Davenports died of smoke inhalation. Osborne became a suspect after his mother called the police to report that her son had heard breaking glass as he and Reid rode past the Davenport home on a motor bike. Authorities said the break-in occurred on the evening of Dec. 13 and the murders early on Dec. 14. Osborne's mother called police around 1 a.m. on Dec. 14. The Davenports died around 12:30 a.m. on Dec. 14, court records said. On Dec. 31, police began questioning Reid, who insisted, as he had previously, that neither he nor Osborne had anything to do with the crime. He stuck to that story for most of the interview. But at the end of a four-hour interview, Reid changed his story and told police that Osborne had committed the crime while Reid watched from outside, according to court records. Police told him afterward they would assure prosecutors that Reid had cooperated with them. "Is this going to get me out of all this stuff?" Reid asked, according to court records. Osborne was arrested the same night. Before Reid could testify at trial, he drowned while swimming in Jellico, Tenn. His death was ruled accidental. But the prosecution presented Reid's statement at trial anyway, over objections of defense lawyers who argued it was wrong to present evidence from a dead witness who couldn't be cross-examined. They also argued that Reid's statement was full of inconsistencies. Osborne was retried this time without Reid's statement. Robinson said that substantially weakened the prosecution's case. She said Osborne took the stand at the five-day trial and testified on his own behalf, saying what he said from day one, that he didn't have anything to do with the couple's death.
I'm looking for someone who can shine a bit of light in this sometimes dimly lit world I must live in." -- Larry Osborne

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