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Cook County Integrity Unit Slow to Justice in False Confession Cases

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Posted: February 7, 2013   2:00 PM

Despite the formation of Anita Alvarez’ Cook County Integrity Unit last year, prosecutors continue to resist claims of innocence in confession cases. Daniel Taylor and seven other juveniles were convicted of a Chicago area double murder 20 years ago, even though police records showed that Taylor was incarcerated at the time of the crime. Taylor was 17 years old when he was arrested for disorderly conduct and detained for more than four hours by Chicago police when the murders were committed at 8:45 p.m. on November 16, 1992.
Despite the prosecutions’ unwillingness to accept that false confessions occur, especially among juveniles, Taylor has received support from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the Illinois Attorney General’s office.
Taylor’s attorneys from the Center on Wrongful Conviction filed a petition Thursday with the Cook County Circuit Court that confirms there were five current and former police employees who have sworn the records accurately indicate that Taylor was locked up. It also claims that a prosecutor's notes and other documents supporting Taylor’s innocence were withheld before trial.
Still, the prosecution remains more convinced by the confession than the police records. The Chicago Tribune reports:

"The evidence that prosecutors typically rely on — police officer statements, police reports, records — demonstrate that Daniel couldn't have committed the murders," said Karen Daniel, who is Taylor's lawyer and an attorney at Northwestern University's Center on Wrongful Convictions.
"Conviction integrity means not putting innocent people away, but also making sure that there's a fair and constitutional process. If these records weren't turned over to the defense, then Daniel Taylor's trial wasn't fair and constitutional, and Daniel's conviction has no integrity."

Allegedly, four of the juveniles were in an apartment when the shooting deaths occurred and the other four acted as lookouts. Police said all of them confessed and implicated each other. Taylor, who was taken into custody more than two weeks after the shootings, remembered being arrested the night of the murders. Although those records were presented at trial, Taylor was sentenced to life in prison and is still behind bars.
Read the full article.
Read Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn’s blog about the case.
Read about the Cook County Conviction Integrity Unit.

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