South Chicago
Victims of the State

35 Cases

 Cook County, IL

Michael J. Synon

Feb 26, 1900

Michael J. Synon was sentenced to death for the of murder of his wife. She was beaten to death in their Chicago residence at 240 S. Green St. Synon's ten-year-old son testified against him. In 1901, it was proven that Synon was four miles away from the scene of his wife's murder and he was released.  [7/05]

 Cook County, IL

Earnest Wallace

June 17, 1916

Earnest Wallace was sentenced to death for the shooting murders of two men that occurred during the robbery of a saloon on the southwest corner of 27th and Federal Streets in Chicago. The victims were the proprietor, William Levin, and a customer, William Monroe. Wallace was convicted of the murders due to the eyewitness testimony of John Porter, Henry Flynn, and Martha Clark.

Porter was the only identifying witness who testified he was in the saloon at the time of the shooting. He first identified Wallace on the street while he [Porter] was in the custody of the police. Although the other saloon patrons lived in the neighborhood, Porter did not and claimed he was a first time visitor. The other patrons said the assailant was masked, but Porter testified the assailant was unmasked. At trial Porter was unable to recognize any of the other patrons as being present in the saloon at the time of the shooting. Porter also could not give an intelligible account of his actions or whereabouts after leaving the saloon.

The other two identifying witnesses gave testimony that was unlikely, and even if true, only identified Wallace as being in or near the saloon around the time of the shooting. Wallace testified that he was playing craps at a pool room on State Street at the time of the shooting and he had three other players corroborate his account of how he spent the evening of the shootings. Two years after Wallace's conviction, the Illinois Supreme Court vacated it on the grounds that the evidence against him was insufficient to convict.  (Appeal)  [12/08]

 Cook County, IL

Majczek & Marcinkiewicz

Dec 9, 1932

Joseph Majczek and Theodore Marcinkiewicz were convicted in 1933 of murdering Chicago police officer William D. Lundy. Lundy was killed in a delicatessen-speakeasy at 4312 S. Ashland Ave. during an apparent holdup. The main witness against the two was the owner of the speakeasy. Police had threatened to prosecute her for violating prohibition laws if she did not implicate the two men.

The case came to the attention of a Chicago Times reporter in 1944 after Majczek's mother placed a classified ad offering a $5,000 reward for information on Lundy's killers. The Times did a front-page human-interest story on how the mother scrubbed floors on her hands and knees six nights a week for over a decade to raise the money.

A Times researcher got a statement from Joseph Majczek that said his trial judge met privately with him and promised him a new trial. Normally the researcher would dismiss as preposterous a claim that a judge would host a private conversation with a convicted cop-killer, but the story reporter wondered aloud to him why Majczek was not sent to the electric chair, the usual sentence for a cop-killer. Further research produced a compelling case for innocence. The judge had not carried through on his promise because prosecutors had threatened him that granting new trials would end his career in politics.

The Times crusaded for Majczek's exoneration and he was pardoned in 1945. Marcinkiewicz was seemingly forgotten, but in 1950, he was legally exonerated through a state habeas corpus proceeding. The legislature later awarded $24,000 to Majczek and $35,000 to Marcinkiewicz. The case is the subject of a 1948 movie, Call Northside 777 starring Jimmy Stewart.  (Not Guilty) (CWC)  [12/05]

 Cook County, IL

Fowler & Pugh

Sept 5, 1936

Walter Fowler and Heywood Pugh (aka Earl Howard Pugh) were convicted in 1937 of the murder of William J. Haag, a Railway Express Agency driver. Haag was stabbed to death on South State Street in Chicago during an apparent robbery. At trial both men testified that their confessions to the crime were beaten out of them. Fowler was sentenced to 99 years in prison and Pugh was sentenced to life imprisonment. Fowler died in 1948. In 1953, the police detective, George Miller, who had obtained Fowler's and Pugh's confessions, inadvertently allowed an attorney working for Pugh to see a manila folder containing statements from two eyewitnesses to Haag's murder. These eyewitnesses identified another man, Eddie Leison, as Haag's killer. Because of this evidence, Pugh was exonerated and released. In 1955, the Illinois legislature awarded Pugh $51,000 for his wrongful imprisonment.  (CWC)  [9/07]

 Cook County, IL

House of Torture Victims

1973 - 1993

Lt. Jon Burge and his fellow detectives at the Area 2 & 3 Police Station on the Southside of Chicago tortured at least 60 persons between 1973 and 1993. The types of tortures used included Russian roulette, cigarette burns, electrical shocks, suffocation, radiators, telephone books, sticks, beatings, cattle prods, and threats. It took the specific case of Andrew Wilson in 1982 to finally bring the truth to light. Jon Burge and his detectives had gone overboard by leaving obvious signs of bruises all over Andrew Wilson's body. An OPS investigation led to the Goldston Report, which stated and confirmed a systematic pattern of torture and abuse by detectives under the supervision of Jon Burge. In 1993, Burge was allegedly fired and two detectives were suspended. However, Burge receives his full pension and benefits.

Those tortured include the Death Row 10: Madison Hobley, Leonard Kidd, Aaron Patterson, Andrew Maxwell, Stanley Howard, Derrick King, Ronald Kitchen, Reginald McHaffey, Leroy Orange, and Jerry McHaffey. Frank Bounds is an 11th death row inmate tortured but he is now deceased. Gov. Ryan has pardoned four of the Death Row 10.  (CCADP)  [9/05]

 Cook County, IL

Lloyd Lindsey

Oct 21, 1974

Lloyd Lindsey was convicted of murdering three little girls and their brother. He was also convicted of raping one of the girls. A man who boarded with the children's family and a surviving brother told police when interviewed together that Lindsey along with Eugene Ford and Willie Robinson had strangled the children after raping the girls. The three men then set fire to the home. Lindsey confessed to this crime, parroting the details of the boarder and surviving brother. The home, at 1408 W. 61st Street in Chicago, was occupied by Mrs. Catherine Horace, her six children, and Lavelle Watkins, the boarder.

Medical evidence indicated that the children had not been strangled, but had died of smoke inhalation. Two of the girls, moreover, were virgins and showed no signs of sexual abuse. Lindsey and his compatriots, who had not confessed, were tried together, but with separate juries. Lindsey was convicted, but his compatriots were acquitted. In 1979, the Illinois Appellate Court reversed Lindsey's conviction, and barred a retrial. It ruled “the inconsistencies in the testimony of [the principal prosecution witnesses] were not only contradictory but diluted [their testimony] to the level of palpable improbability and incredulity.”  (CWC)  [1/06]

 Cook County, IL

Evans & Terry

Jan 14, 1976

Michael Evans and Paul Terry were convicted of the rape and murder of 9-year-old Lisa Cabassa. No physical evidence was ever found to tie them to the crime. A neighbor of Cabassa, Judith Januszewski, testified against the two, although by her own admission, she repeatedly lied to police and did not give them a full account of what she said she witnessed until six weeks after the victim's body had been found. She did not come forward until after reward money was offered. According to her family, Lisa left home with her 12-year-old brother at 6:30 p.m. to walk to the home of a friend a few blocks away. On the way, Lisa complained of a headache and turned to walk back home. She never made it home and apparently was abducted on the way. Januszewski initially stated that she saw two youths, she later identified as Evans and Terry, struggle with a girl around 6:37 p.m. By the time of trial, the prosecution had to disclose Januszewski's work timecard, which showed she worked to 8 p.m., so at trial they asserted the abduction occurred after 8 p.m. Evans and Terry were each sentenced to 400 to 800 years of imprisonment, but because sentencing for different charges ran concurrently, they only had to serve 200 to 400 years. DNA tests exonerated Evans and Terry in 2003. They had served 27 years of imprisonment, more time than any previous Americans exonerated by DNA.  (Chicago Tribune) (CWC) (JP)  [12/05]

 Cook County, IL

James Newsome

Oct 30, 1979

James Newsome was convicted of the murder of Edward “Mickey” Cohen, 72, during a robbery of Cohen's grocery store. The store was located at 8911 S. Loomis St. in Chicago. After two eyewitnesses had picked photographs of someone else out of a mug book, police put Newsome into a lineup. He was then informed that he had been identified. Newsome was tried and convicted of murder and armed robbery based on these witnesses and a third eyewitness. In 1989, Newsome obtained a court order requiring the Chicago Police Department to run unidentified fingerprints from the murder scene through the Automated Fingerprint Identification System. The check was run, and the officer in charge falsely reported that the search found no prints matching anyone else. It was not until five years later that police admitted that prints were found to match those of Dennis Emerson, who by then was on death row for another murder. Newsome was freed in 1994 and Gov. Edgar granted him a pardon based on innocence in 1995. In 2003, Newsome was awarded $15 million for 15 years of wrongful incarceration.  (CWC)  [6/05]

 Cook County, IL

Beringer Brothers

July 16, 1981

After Joanne Barkauskas was gunned down on her way to work, an eyewitness, Harvey Webb, identified the murderer as James Galason. The murder occurred near 42nd and Artesian in Chicago. Galason confessed and testified that the victim's husband, Edward Barkauskas, had contracted with him to commit the crime for a share of her life insurance proceeds. In exchange for leniency, however, Galason agreed to implicate the Beringer brothers in the crime. Galason claimed that Joseph Beringer had been the actual shooter, and that Kenneth Beringer had helped steal a car used in the crime and had been present when the crime was carried out.

There was not much of a case against the Beringers as the eyewitness claimed that Galason alone had committed the murder and the victim's husband, who admitted meeting with Galason, testified that he never met either of the Beringers. Nevertheless, the Beringers were convicted. The Illinois Appellate Court overturned Joseph Beringer's conviction in 1987 because of “brazen misconduct” by the prosecutor, Kenneth Wadas, at trial. Five months later, a court overturned Kenneth Beringer's conviction on the same grounds, and the prosecution dropped all charges against the brothers.  (CWC)  [12/05]

 Cook County, IL

Alton Logan

Jan 11, 1982

Alton Logan was convicted of murdering Lloyd Wickliffe, a security guard, during the robbery of a McDonald's restaurant at 11421 S. Halsted St. in Chicago. Another security guard, Alvin Thompson, was wounded. The gunmen got no money, but stole the guards' handguns. Police arrested Logan after a tip and got three eyewitnesses to identify him. Logan, his mother, and brother all would later testify that he was at home asleep when the murder occurred. While investigating another man, Andrew Wilson, for the unrelated murders of two policeman, police found the shotgun used in the McDonald's robbery. Police never charged Wilson in the McDonald's robbery as there were only two perpetrators in the robbery and they had already built a case against Logan and a codefendant, Edgar Hope.

Hope later told Wilson's attorneys, Dale Coventry and Jamie Kunz, that Logan had nothing to do with the McDonald's shooting and that Wilson was the shooter. When the attorneys asked their client if he was responsible for the McDonald's shooting, Wilson said, “Yep, that was me.” Wilson's attorneys thought about speaking up to prevent Logan's conviction, but attorney-client confidentiality prohibited them. Instead they signed an affidavit regarding Wilson's confession and sealed it. Kunz said they prepared the document “so that if we were ever able to speak up, no one could say we were just making this up now.” They later obtained Wilson's permission to reveal his confession following his death.

After Wilson died in Nov. 2007, the attorneys came forward with Wilson's confession to the crime. In April 2008, Logan's conviction was vacated and charges against him were later dropped. Logan has served 26 years in prison.  (Chicago Tribune) (CWC)  [5/08]

 Cook County, IL

Steve Shore

Aug 10, 1982

Steve Shore was convicted of the murder of Garrison Hester, an off-duty security guard. Hester was shot on Drexel Avenue in Chicago. The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the conviction by a two to one vote, but the dissenting justice, R. Eugene Pincham, called the prosecution case “ludicrous, farfetched, unreasonable, and unworthy of belief.” Additional exculpatory evidence became known in the early 1990's because of a federal investigation into the El Rukn street gang. Shore got an evidentiary hearing and was allowed to take the depositions of the El Rukn witnesses. After the discovery process was complete, the prosecution agreed to drop charges and free Shore, but only if he accepted an Alford plea, which was an acceptance of charges for time served. Shore accepted the offer and was freed in 1996.  (CWC) (People v. Shore) (Shore v. Warden)  [12/05]

 Cook County, IL

Anthony Porter

Aug 15, 1982

Anthony Porter was convicted of murdering Jerry Hilliard, 18, and Marilyn Green, 19. The state's key witness, William Taylor, testified that he saw Porter, about five hundred feet away, fire his pistol in the dark of night. He also said that Porter, who is right-handed, used his left hand to fire five fatal shots. Journalism students investigated and re-enacted the crime but from Taylor's position they could not see the face of the shooter in broad daylight. Taylor later admitted his testimony was false and said police had pressured him to name Porter as the shooter. Another man, Alstory Simon, later admitted to the killings after his estranged wife told two students that she had been present at the shootings. She said she did not know Porter, but that he most certainly had nothing to do with the crime. Porter, whose IQ measured between 51 and 75, was released after spending 17 years on death row.  (CWC) (JP) (JD)  [6/05]

 Cook County, IL

Ronnie Bullock

Mar 18, 1983

Ronnie Bullock was convicted of raping a nine-year-old girl. Bullock was identified by the victim and lived in the area where the rape occurred. DNA tests exonerated him in 1994.  (IP) (CWC) (CBJ)  [9/06]

 Cook County, IL

Brown & Houston

June 18, 1983

Robert Brown and Elton Houston were convicted of the murder of Ronnie Bell after being identified by some eyewitnesses. The murder was presumed to be gang related. In 1985, Anthony Sumner, an inmate cooperating with a federal probe of the El Rukn street gang identified the actual men involved in the murder as J. L. Houston (Elton's brother), Earl Hawkins, and Derrick Kees. At his trials Elton maintained that he was being mistaken by the identifying witnesses for his brother, J. L. It was undisputed that J. L. owned the car involved in the shootings, and the murder weapons were found in the car. Also it was maintained that J. L. was known to the police as an El Rukn hit man, and Elton was not an El Rukn. Two of the three actual men confessed. Brown and Houston were exonerated and released in 1989.  (CWC)  [12/05]

 Cook County, IL

Leroy Orange

Jan 11, 1984

Leroy Orange was sentenced to death for the murder of Renee Coleman, 27, Michelle Jointer, 30, Ricardo Pedro, 25, and Coleman's 10-year-old son, Tony. Orange confessed to the crimes after being subjected to beatings, suffocation, and electroshock by Lt. John Burge and other officers at the Chicago Area Two police station. Orange subsequently told everyone he came in contact with that he had been tortured: his cellmate, a physician, relatives and friends who visited him, his public defender, and the arraignment judge. Orange's half brother, Leonard Kidd, implicated Orange in the murders while being tortured at Area 2. However, Kidd testified for Orange against his attorney's advice admitting that he alone committed the murders without Orange's participation or knowledge. Governor Ryan pardoned Orange on Jan. 10, 2003.  (CWC)  [8/05]

 Cook County, IL

Stanley Howard

May 20, 1984

Stanley Howard was sentenced to death for the murder of Oliver Ridgell. Ridgell was shot and killed as he and Tecora Mullen sat in Ridgell's car. The car was parked in front of an apartment building at 1343 W. 92nd St., around the corner from Mullen's home. Ridgell and Mullen both were married, but they had been having an affair for some time. Mullen told police she would be able to identify the killer, but after she looked at police books with photographs of suspects she was unable to say any of them resembled Ridgell's killer. She was also unable to help a police sketch artist draw a composite of the perpetrator.

Six months later, Howard, who had no known acquaintance with either Ridgell or Mullen, confessed to the murder after he said it was beaten out of him by Chicago Area Two detectives. Howard had been taken to hospitals before and after his confession. Medical records showed that he had new injuries including bruises on his left leg that matched his description of police mistreatment. Nevertheless the judge refused to bar his confession at trial.

According to Howard's confession, he fired three shots at Ridgell. Most tenants in the apartment buildings near the scene of the murder were still asleep when it occurred. Those that heard anything, heard only one shot. One tenant heard a man say, “I told you, I would get you.” Another heard a woman say, “Don't hurt him. Just take me home.” The tenants' statements were withheld at trial. In a lineup, Mullen tentatively identified Howard, saying he “looked like” Ridgell's killer. However, at trial Mullen was positive Howard was the killer. She also said that her lineup identification had been positive. In a later interview, when asked about her identification, Mullen said she was in an alcoholic haze in the years before and after the murder. “I drank a fifth of liquor every day for 10 years. I couldn't hardly remember anything.”

In 1991, the Illinois Supreme Court found that a trial error had occurred, but ruled it harmless because “the evidence of the defendant's guilt was overwhelming.” In 2003, Gov. Ryan disagreed and granted Howard a pardon based on innocence.  (CWC) (Chicago Tribune)  [8/08]

 Cook County, IL

LaVale Burt

Sept 19, 1985

LaVale Burt, 19, confessed to the shooting murder of two-year-old Charles Gregory after a prolonged interrogation by Chicago police. Police discovered gunpowder residue on the hands of the victim's mother. The mother, who initially denied knowing anything about the shooting, claimed Burt shot at two girls, missed them, and hit her son. Both girls initially denied the story, but one of them finally said the mother's story was true. The girls' brother had been slightly wounded earlier in the day in a suspected gang related shooting. Police theorized that Burt had been involved in that shooting and had shot at the girls to discourage them from linking him to that crime. Burt confessed to that theory of the crime. After Burt was convicted and was awaiting sentencing, the victim's grandmother contacted the judge who tried Burt's case. She said she found a pistol in her daughter's possession that she suspected had caused her grandson's death. The daughter acknowledged her son's death had been accidental and the judge vacated Burt's conviction.  (CWC)  [12/05]

 Cook County, IL

Ronald Jones

Mar 10, 1985

Ronald Jones was convicted of the rape and murder of Debra Smith. Smith had been abducted from the street and forced into an abandoned hotel at 6724 S. Stoney Island Ave. Jones confessed to the crimes after a lengthy interrogation during which police beat him. According to Jones, Detective Steven Hood struck him in the head three or four times with a black object about six inches long before Detective John Markham said, “Don't hit him like this because he will bruise,” and proceeded to punch Jones repeatedly in the stomach. At trial, a witness also identified him. Jones was convicted and sentenced to death. DNA tests exonerated him after eight years of imprisonment.  (IP) (CWC)  [1/06]

 Cook County, IL

Steven Smith

June 30, 1985

Steven Smith was sentenced to death for the murder of Virdeen Willis Jr., who was shot outside a tavern. Willis was an assistant warden at the Pontiac Correctional Center where Smith had once been incarcerated. Smith was convicted due to the testimony of Debrah Caraway, which 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.

In 1999, the Illinois Supreme Court threw out the conviction due to insufficient evidence and it barred a retrial. It ruled that Caraway's testimony was less reliable than the contradictory testimony of the other witnesses. Leonard Cavise, a DePaul University law professor, said he believes the state's evidence in the case was so weak that the prosecution should not have even brought charges against Smith, much less pursued the death penalty.  (CWC)  [1/06]

 Cook County, IL

Aaron Patterson

Apr 1986

Aaron Patterson was sentenced to death for the murders of Vincent and Rafaela Sanchez, a South Chicago couple who fenced goods for neighborhood thieves. Vincent, 73, and Rafaela, 62, were found stabbed to death on April 19, 1986 inside their ransacked home at 8849 South Burley Avenue. Patterson confessed to the murders after being tortured. Following his conviction, state's witness and teenager Marva Hall, swore in an affidavit that prosecutors pressured her into implicating Patterson. Patterson was released from Death Row in 2003 after the Illinois governor found that he was “wrongfully prosecuted.”  (CWC) (CCADP)  [9/05]

 Cook County, IL

Reynolds & Wardell

May 3, 1986

Donald Reynolds and Billy Wardell were convicted of the rape of a University of Chicago student and the attempted rape of another student. The men were each sentenced to 55 years imprisonment, but DNA tests later exonerated them. Both men filed suits against Pamela Fish, a crime laboratory analyst, alleging she testified falsely against them.  (IP1) (IP2) (JP) (CWC)  [7/05]

 Cook County, IL

Roscetti Four

Oct 18, 1986

Marcellius Bradford, 17, Calvin Ollins, 14, Larry Ollins, 16, and Omar Saunders, 18, were accused and convicted of the kidnapping, rape, and murder of 23-year-old Rush University medical student Lori Roscetti. Bradford testified against the others in exchange for a 12-year sentence. A friend of Bradford provided additional testimony including a confession by Saunders. Bradford later recanted his statements, saying police coerced him into falsely confessing and that he did so to avoid a life sentence.

Crime lab analyst Pamela Fish testified that semen found on the victim's body could have belonged to the Ollinses, but a recent examination of her notes by a DNA expert showed that none of the four boy's blood types matched the crime scene samples. In 2001, DNA tests exonerated all four and all were released except Bradford who was initially released after 6 1/2 years but was reincarcerated on an unrelated charge. The case was profiled on a This American Life episode entitled “Perfect Evidence.” The defendants were awarded $120,000 from the State of Illinois in 2003. Calvin Ollins was additionally awarded $1.5 million from the City of Chicago in 2003.  (CWC) (IP1) (IP2) (IP3) (IP4)  [6/05]

 Cook County, IL

Madison Hobley

Jan 6, 1987

A fire broke out in Madison Hobley's apartment building early in the morning, which killed his wife, infant son, and five other people. Hobley escaped wearing only underwear. Later in the day, detectives picked him up and tortured him in an attempt to extract a confession that he started the fire. When torture did not work, four detectives asserted that Hobley made a confession. No record of this confession existed. One detective claimed to have made notes but threw them away after something spilled on them.

The prosecution claimed that Hobley had bought $1 worth of gasoline, which he used to start the fire. They produced a gasoline can allegedly found at the fire scene, but a defense expert pointed out that it showed no exposure to the high heat of the fire, as its plastic cap was undamaged. After trial, the defense learned that a second gasoline can was found at the fire scene but police destroyed it after the defense issued a subpoena for it.

In addition, post-conviction affidavits of jurors stated that non-jurors intimidated some of them while they were sequestered at a hotel, and that they were prejudiced by the acts of the jury foreperson, a police officer, who believed Hobley was guilty. The affidavits also stated that jurors brought newspapers with articles about the case into the jury room and that they repeatedly violated the trial court's sequestration. In 2003, Gov. George Ryan granted Hobley a pardon based on innocence.  (CWC)  [9/05]

 Cook County, IL

Kitchen & Reeves

July 27, 1988

Ronald Kitchen and Marvin Reeves were convicted of the murders of five people: Rose Marie Rodriguez, 30, her son Daniel, 3, Deborah Sepulveda, 26, her son Peter, Jr., 3, and her daughter Rebecca, 2. Rodriguez was strangled and the other victims had been suffocated. Their home, a bungalow at 6028 S. Campbell Ave. in Chicago, was set on fire. There were no eyewitnesses to the murders.

“The prosecution's case was based on Ronald Kitchen's confession to the five murders after 39 hours of interrogation, and the testimony of jailhouse informant Willie Williams, who claimed that Kitchen confessed to him in two telephone calls. [He said Kitchen told him he killed the victims over a $1,225 drug debt.] The informant also claimed that Marvin Reeves made incriminating statements to him. Kitchen testified that he only confessed to stop being beaten by Chicago Police Department detectives who were questioning him. The detectives were under the command of Cmdr. Jon Burge, and Kitchen said he was hit in the head with a telephone, punched in the face, struck in the groin and kicked. Kitchen was sentenced to death, but it was commuted to life in prison by IL Gov. George Ryan in 2003. Reeves was given five life sentences without parole.”

“Attorneys for Kitchen and Reeves eventually discovered that phone records showed Williams didn't talk to Kitchen on the two dates he claimed, and that prosecutors never revealed to defense attorneys they had Williams released from prison early in return for his cooperation. Evidence also surfaced that Cmdr. Burge had been involved in the torture of numerous defendants who falsely confessed. Based on the new evidence Kitchen and Reeves filed motions for a new trial. On the morning of July 7, 2009 Cook County Circuit Judge Stanley Sacks overturned their convictions, and later that day the Illinois Attorney General dismissed their indictments on the grounds of insufficient evidence. On the afternoon of the 7th Kitchen and Reeves were released from custody after being wrongly imprisoned for 21 years.” – FJDB  (Chicago Sun Times)

 Cook County, IL

Algie Crivens

Apr 15, 1989

Algie Crivens III was convicted of murdering Cornelius “Corndog” Lyons. Lyons was shot in the parking lot of a Jewel Food Store located at 11414 S. Halsted St. in Chicago. Two eyewitnesses identified Crivens. A prison inmate, who heard another man, Marcus Williams, confess to the crime, was not allowed to testify at Lyons's trial. Later another witness came forward who had seen Williams shoot Lyons. State courts would not provide relief, but a Federal Court intervened. On retrial, Crivens won a directed verdict of acquittal. Gov. Ryan also pardoned Crivens, qualifying him for automatic compensation for wrongful imprisonment.  (CWC)  [7/05]

 Cook County, IL

John Willis


John Willis was charged with committing robberies and rapes. Prosecution Lab Technician Pamela Fish testified that forensic tests were inconclusive when they excluded him as the perpetrator. Willis was convicted and sentenced to 100 years of imprisonment. Later when a man named Dennis McGruder was convicted of committing rapes in the same location and with the same modus operendi, Willis was barred from using that evidence to appeal his conviction. DNA tests exonerated Willis in 1999 and implicated McGruder as the perpetrator of Willis's alleged rapes.  (IP)  [5/05]

 Cook County, IL

Richard Johnson

Sept 20, 1990

Richard Johnson was convicted of rape and robbery. He was identified from police photos and featured on America's Most Wanted. The victim was a graduate student at the University of Chicago. Prior to trial, tests showed that the semen recovered from a victim belonged to a man who had a different blood type than Johnson's. However, Johnson's public defender did not bring up this evidence at trial. In 1996, after DNA tests reconfirmed that Johnson was not the assailant, his conviction was vacated and charges were dismissed.  (CWC) (IP) (CM)  [4/09]

 Cook County, IL

Young, Hill, & Williams

Oct 14, 1990

Dan Young, Jr. and Harold Hill were convicted of killing Kathy Morgan, 39, whose body was found by firefighters sent to extinguish a blaze. Peter Williams was also charged but charges were dropped after police learned Williams was in jail at the time of the murder. Hill who was 16 was first arrested on unrelated charges. Chicago detectives Kenneth Boudreau and John Halloran obtained a confession from him saying that he, Young, and Williams all took part in the crime. Young, who has a 56 IQ, was arrested and confessed after he says police beat him. Williams was the last to be arrested. He gave the most detailed confession, but he later said he was handcuffed to a radiator for hours and urinated on himself because he was not allowed to use a bathroom. The conviction and charges against Young and Hill were dropped in 2005 after bite mark trial testimony was discredited and DNA tests failed to implicate the two.  [9/05]

 Cook County, IL

Xavier Catron

Sept 19, 1992

Xavier Catron was convicted of murdering 16-year-old Kendrick Thomas. The conviction was based on the testimony of three eyewitnesses who later swore under oath that Chicago police had coerced them to falsely identify Catron. Catron eventually won a new trial and charges against him were dropped in 2000.  (CWC)  [7/05]

 Cook County, IL

Marlon Pendleton

Oct 3, 1992

Marlon Pendleton was convicted of raping and robbing a woman who was abducted as she walked to work near 74th St. and Maryland Ave. The victim estimated her attacker weighed 170 lbs., about 15 lbs. less than herself and said that if he had not been armed, “I'd kick his butt.” Pendleton weighed 135 lbs., but the victim identified him in a suggestive lineup. She also identified him in court, saying, “I looked him in his face and ... at that point his face was etched in my mind.” Following his conviction, Pendleton demanded that DNA tests be performed on the evidence, but Chicago police crime lab analyst Pamela Fish said that there was insufficient evidence to be tested, according to her report. Brian Wraxall, the expert who eventually conducted a test in 2006, said that he believes that there was enough material at the time. The test exonerated Pendleton, and shortly thereafter the state's attorney's office began reviewing his case.  (Chicago Tribune) (IP)  [12/06]

 Cook County, IL

Lafonso Rollins

Jan 9, 1993

Lafonso Rollins was convicted of raping an elderly Chicago woman. He initially confessed in writing because it was the only way to stop being struck and threatened by the detectives questioning him. He immediately recanted his confession. DNA tests exonerated him in 2004 and Gov. Blagojevich pardoned in him 2005. In 2006, Rollins was awarded $9 million for his 11 1/2 years of wrongful imprisonment.  (IP) (IDOCS) (JD)  [9/06]

 Cook County, IL

Dana Holland

Feb 1993

Dana Holland was convicted of rape and attempted murder because of false witness ID and also because of false testimony by forensic analyst Pamela Fish that the recovered semen sample was too small to test for DNA. DNA tests exonerated Holland in 2003.  (CWC) (Chicago Tribune)  [7/05]

 Cook County, IL

Dean Cage

Nov 14, 1994

Dean Cage was convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl. The assault occurred on Nov. 14, 1994, in an alley in the rear basement stairwell of a building in the 7000 block of South Wabash Avenue. The victim gave a description of her assailant from which a computer-generated composite sketch was made. After the sketch was publicized, police received an anonymous tip that a man who worked at a certain meat packing plant resembled the sketch. Cage worked at the plant, but had no criminal record and did not closely resemble the sketch. In 2004 Cage filed a handwritten petition of habeas corpus in federal court. He asserted he was innocent because the girl had contracted venereal diseases from her assailant, and tests showed Cage did not have any venereal diseases. Cage's petition was rejected. Nevertheless he was arrested and identified by the victim in a live lineup. In 2008 DNA tests exonerated Cage of the crime.  (CWC) (FJDB)  [6/08]

 Cook County, IL

Robert Wilson

Feb 28, 1997

Robert Wilson was convicted of the attempted murder of June Siler. While waiting at a bus station, a man, for no apparent reason, slashed Siler's throat and face with a box cutter. Siler identified Wilson as her assailant from suggestive police photo lineups, although, at one point, she complained that Wilson was too old to be her assailant. After 30 hours in custody, Wilson signed a confession. He soon recanted the confession and said he signed it because he was sick, police had refused his requests for his heart medicine, and he was scared police would beat him. He said a detective had slapped him.

Wilson's confession did not match the facts of the crime. The confession stated Wilson assaulted Siler because he was smoking a cigar and he became angry when she had complained of the smoke and said he would get cancer. Siler said later her assailant was not smoking a cigar, and there was no discussion about smoking or cancer. “I smoke,” she said. “I wouldn't have said anything like that.”

Siler always had anxiety about whether she helped to convict the right person. Later after Wilson got a new trial, she learned another suspect had been wearing black Velcro shoes that her assailant had been wearing. Siler is now convinced that Wilson was not her assailant and blames police for the mix-up.  (Chicago Tribune) (CWC)  [3/07]

 Cook County, IL

Michael Glasper

Mar 16, 2006

“Michael Glasper was wrongly convicted in Chicago of the robbery of a [South Loop] parking lot attendant in September 2006. One of the items stolen was the attendant's cell phone. Glasper and his girlfriend found a cell phone near Chicago's Columbia College where his girlfriend worked. She scrolled through the numbers stored in the telephone. She identified the owner, called her, and returned the telephone to her. The robbery victim called the police to report the returned phone. In her statement to the police the victim described the robber as a person 7 inches shorter than Glasper. However, because of Glasper's record they considered him as a suspect. The victim subsequently picked him out of a lineup as the robber. Michael Glasper was convicted based on the victim's in-court identification, and he was sentenced to life in prison as a habitual offender, because of two robbery convictions in the 1990s. Glasper's conviction was overturned on appeal, and he was acquitted after a retrial in July 2008.” – FJDB