Posted: June 28, 2013 3:05 PM
A Chicago prisoner’s 20-year nightmare ended today when Cook County prosecutors dropped murder charges against him, clearing the path for his release. Daniel Taylor was convicted of a 1992 double murder and sentenced to life in prison despite records showing he was in police custody for disorderly conduct at the time the murders took place.
In February, Taylor’s attorneys from the Center on Wrongful Conviction filed a petition 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.
A lengthy interrogation two weeks after the crime resulted in Taylor’s false confession. Seven other juveniles also confessed and implicated each other in the murders. Taylor was 17 years old at the time. Among the others was Dennis Mixon, who admitted his involvement in a Chicago Tribune investigation in 2001. Mixon told reporters that he was involved but that the others were not. An accomplice, currently incarcerated for another murder, was also named.
Of the eight men, two had their charges dismissed before trial, one was acquitted and five were convicted. Two of the convicted men were released after serving their sentences, which leaves Mixon, Taylor and Deon Patrick, who is still fighting to overturn his conviction from prison. A review by State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s Conviction Integrity Unit finally persuaded Alvarez that Taylor’s conviction should be set aside, reports the Tribune.
The case illustrates an emerging pattern in Cook County’s wrongful convictions of the early 90s, which is also evident in the “Englewood Four” and “Dixmoor Five” cases. In both cases, false confessions were elicited from young men of color resulting in multiple wrongful convictions. Years later, DNA testing proved the nine men innocent and revealed that only one perpetrator had committed each crime.
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