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In her Chicago Sun-Times column, Laura S. Washington reviews a case in which four black juveniles were coerced into
confessing to a November 1994 murder that they didn't commit and were found guilty of that crime. Following the publication of the column, on Wednesday a judge vacated the men's convictions after DNA testing of semen recovered from the victim matched that of a man who had been convicted of a similar murder.
"What the hell is going on in Chicago?" queried an outraged Peter J. Neufeld, co-director of the Innocence Project. He called from New York, incredulous that Cook County prosecutors are fighting him on a 1994 murder case that convicted [four] teenagers for the vicious murder of a Nina Glover in Englewood.
Neufeld's client, Michael Saunders, was one of the teens. Now 32, Saunders has served 17 years in prison and remains at Dixon Correctional Center.
Saunders is innocent, Neufeld claims, and has the DNA evidence to prove it. Neufeld and his colleagues have petitioned the court to vacate the convictions.
He excoriated Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez: "They would rather defend the conviction. They are willing to go to the mat."
What the hell is going on? Wrongful convictions for violent crimes have cost Illinois taxpayers $214 million and imprisoned innocent people for a collective 926 years, shows a recent investigation by the Better Government Association and the Center on Wrongful Convictions. Between 1989 and 2010, 85 people were wrongfully incarcerated for murders, sexual assaults and other crimes. (Full disclosure: I serve on the BGA's advisory committee).
Read Laura S. Washington's entire column at the Chicago Sun-Times.
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