Student Journos in Court Over Murder Investigation

Northwestern's acclaimed Innocence Project under fire
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 11, 2009 10:40 AM CST

(Newser) – A group of Illinois journalism students found themselves in court yesterday, accused of flirting with and paying off sources during a 2003-2006 investigation for the Medill Innocence Project. The Northwestern students claim to have uncovered evidence exonerating Anthony McKinney, convicted in 1982 of murdering a security guard. Both sides went to court over a subpoena from prosecutor Anita Alvarez demanding students’ emails and grades, Reuters reports.

Prosecutors say students, seeking better grades, gave food and money to sources—one of whom allegedly bought crack cocaine with change from $60 a student paid in cab fare. The Innocence Project has helped exonerate 11 convicted inmates since the mid-1990s. “The question is what does Anita Alvarez have to fear?” said the program director. “Is she embarrassed that the state sought the death penalty against a man who is now shown to be innocent?”