DNA Frees Man Who Spent 20 Years in Prison for Violent Crimes

In the days before DNA testing became an integral part of criminal investigations and defenses, the chances of an innocent person being convicted of a crime were higher. Some of those innocent people were granted the opportunity to clear their names once DNA testing became reliable. One of those people is a man who spent approximately 20 years in the Illinois prison system for violent crimes that the courts now say he did not commit.

In 1992, an 11-year-old girl was raped and murdered. The man in question was convicted not once, but three times for the sexual assault and stabbing death of the young girl. The initial conviction took place in 1993 at which time he received a sentence of life in prison. Appeals led to two new trials — one in 1998 and another in 2009.

Even though DNA indicated that the man did not rape the victim, the jury’s verdict put him back to prison for life. The Illinois Appellate Court overturned the conviction for the last time in Dec. 2011. Now, the man is about to receive a settlement worth millions of dollars as restitution for the decades of his life he wrongfully spent in prison.

DNA played a crucial role in the release of this man, who was wrongfully convicted of some terribly violent crimes. Beyond that, however, he had criminal defense teams that never stopped advocating on his behalf. The criminal justice system in the United States is based on the notion that no one should spend even one day in prison for a crime they did not commit. When the system breaks down and an innocent person is convicted, it is up to the people who are charged with safeguarding his or her rights to see that justice is done.

Source: bnd.com, “Waukegan to pay $7.5M to man wrongfully convicted of murder“, May 6, 2015

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