2nd Inmate Freed in Crazy Chicago Death-Row Case

Crime figures in why Illinois scrapped the death penalty
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 30, 2014 12:24 PM CDT
2nd Inmate Freed in Crazy Chicago Death Row Case
This undated photo provided by the Illinois Department of Corrections shows inmate Alstory Simon.   (AP Photo/Illinois Department of Corrections)

A man wrongly convicted in a 1982 double murder in Chicago is being set free after 15 years, reports CBS Chicago. But this is not your typical case of this variety: Alstory Simon is actually the second person to be freed after a murder conviction for the crime, which is why the Chicago Sun-Times is using phrases like "a stunning reversal," while the Chicago Tribune says the move is "rewriting a key chapter in Illinois' death penalty history." The case goes back to 1982, when somebody shot to death Marilyn Green and fiance Jerry Hillard. Prosecutors first convicted Anthony Porter, who ended up on death row. But 48 hours before he was to die, his conviction got thrown out, thanks to the work of Northwestern University's Medill Innocence Project.

One of the project's investigators got Simon to confess to the crime, but both Simon and the investigator later said the confession was coerced. (Simon, now 64, was promised a short sentence, followed by riches from book and movie deals.) The reversal of Porter's conviction led first to a moratorium on the death penalty in Illinois less than a year after Porter was pardoned in 1999, and eventually to its abolishment in the state in 2011. The double-murder case is now once again unofficially unsolved. Multiple witnesses put Porter at the crime scene, and at least one says he saw Porter pull the trigger. Cook County prosecutors, however, aren't saying whether they think he's guilty. It's a moot point: Porter cannot be tried again thanks to double jeopardy. (Read more Medill Innocence Project stories.)

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