Illinois Inmate Released in Landmark Case


An Illinois inmate has been released in a landmark case. The wrongful conviction suit has apparently gone full circle. On Thursday, law enforcement let a man go free who had been condemned for a double murder in 1982 and stated they thought another individual acquitted almost 20 years ago was most likely the killer after all.

Captive Alstory Simon admitted in the late 1990’s to both shooting and killing teenagers Jerry Hillard and Marilyn Green on the south side of Chicago. He was set free from a correctional center located in the central part of Illinois. His confession allowed the release and absolution of previous death row prisoner Anthony Porter, who had been initially sentenced as the killer.

Porter’s freedom became a key conquest for innocence assignments that work to try and reverse wrongful criminal sentences. This case and others like it ultimately prompted Illinois to eliminate using the death penalty.

After he gave his confession, Simon, age 64, gave a guilty plea back in the late 1990’s and was sentenced to nearly 40 years in prison. He ended up serving almost 20 years of that sentence. However, Illinois prosecutors decided to yet again reverse course and declared on Thursday that a previous journalism professor, his students and a private investigator pressured Simon into giving a taped confession. They also allegedly pretended to have a witness that saw him performing the murders, threatened him by means of the death penalty and guaranteed he would have profitable book deals.

The Cook County state attorney noted in a press conference that they were talking about the actions of a reprobate private detective and a college professor who both went all out. The lawyer stated that Porter could not be tried again due to double jeopardy, but she explained there were persuasive facts and eyewitnesses at the scene of the crime who declare to the present day that Anthony Porter was the person who allegedly performed the killing.

The lawyer also stated that the renewed investigation had been the hardest her office had ever performed, mainly due to numerous witnesses changing their statements several times over the past 30 years. She explained that in the numerous years that had gone by since Simon produced his taped declaration, prosecutors have educated themselves on how to be much more doubtful about such so called evidence.

The Conviction Integrity Unit, which had been formed about two years ago, would carry on in investigating cases of purported wrongful convictions. The unit has freed 10 individuals so far. However, it appears that this case was not one of them. In a press release, the private investigator explained that he thought Porter was an innocent man. He added that Simon admitted his guilt to both attorneys and also journalists along with him.

The Chicago Innocence Project did not have any response to what had happened and did not speak to any news media sources. Regardless, an inmate walked free due to the findings of the Illinois court.

By Kimberly Ruble

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Photo by Frank Swift – Flickr License

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