Posted: July 30, 2013 4:15 PM
James Edwards, who was exonerated by DNA evidence of first-degree murder in Waukegan, Illinois, last year, now hopes to be cleared of an Ohio murder as well. Edwards was convicted in 1996 and sentenced to life in prison based largely on a coerced confession, which he asserts included physical violence. After a 26-hour interrogation, Edwards confessed to three murders, including one in Cleveland. He was convicted of the Waukegan and Cleveland murders and cleared in the third case.
Edwards’ DNA exoneration of the Waukegan murder on May 29, 2012, revealed that his confession had been false. Since the confession contained details that only investigators and the true perpetrator could know, it suggests that Edwards was fed non-public details of the three crimes and merely repeated them in his confessions. The Chicago Tribune reports:
In a visiting room overlooking inmates circulating outside Stateville Correctional Center near Joliet, Edwards — a voluble man who has spent roughly half his life in prison — said he's confident he'll go free before he dies. The acknowledgment by prosecutors that his Waukegan confession was false shows police coerced the whole statement, he said.
"Those were details that only the police could have known, in addition to the killer," he said.
Edwards' lawyers are preparing to use the revelations from Lake County to challenge his Ohio case, but Ohio prosecutors learned of questions about his interrogation only when called by the Tribune, said Joseph Frolik, a Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office spokesman. He declined to comment on details of the case but said the office was receptive to putting it before an internal review panel prosecutors are setting up. Edwards’ lawyers are preparing to use the false confession from Lake County to challenge his case in Ohio, where prosecutors were unaware that the interrogation had been called into question until recently.
Edwards is currently serving a 60-year sentence in Illinois for an armed robbery he committed in Waukegan with a lighter resembling a gun. He has not yet started serving time for the Cleveland murder, but he is hopeful that the false confession evidence will be his key to a reduced sentence. The Department of Corrections projects his discharge date as 2029.
Read the full article and watch a video of Edwards describing his case.
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