The Justice Project - Profile of Injustice

Anthony Porter

Chicago, Illinois
In September 1998, after spending 16 years on Illinois’ death row for a crime he did not commit, Anthony Porter had exhausted all of his appeals and came within two days of being executed. His volunteer lawyer, Daniel Sanders, persuaded the Illinois Supreme Court to stay the execution, not to consider his innocence, but only to examine Porter’s mental fitness. Porter, a 27-year-old reputed gang member with an IQ that has been measured from 51 to 75, was convicted of the August 1982 shooting deaths of two people.

Jerry Hillard, 18, and Marilyn Green, 19, were shot to death in Washington Park on the south side of Chicago on August 15, 1982. Porter was charged with the crime two days later and, with the identification testimony of William Taylor, was 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. 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. In February 1999, Ciolino obtained a videotaped confession from Simon and in September 1999, Simon pleaded guilty to the double murder and was sentenced to 37 years in prison.