Exonerations by New Cook County State’s Attorney Signals New Era in Post- Conviction Review

By Innocence Staff

On Wednesday, Cook County prosecutors dropped the charges against four men who were convicted in connection with a 1995 double-murder they maintain they did not commit.

Charles Johnson and Larod Styles were teenagers when they confessed to committing an armed robbery and double murder along with Lashawn Ezell and Troshawn McCoy after questioning by James Cassidy, a detective known for his questionable interrogation tactics. The details of their confessions did not match, and according to their attorneys, they only confessed because they thought they would then be released.

Johnson and Styles were sentenced to life in prison, McCoy was sentenced to 55 years and Ezell, convicted only of armed robbery, received a 20-year sentence.

Last fall, Johnson and Styles were released on bond after prosecutors threw out their convictions. Fingerprint evidence and witness testimony pointed to an offender who lived nearby to the crime scene. Prosecutors under State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez vowed to retry the men.

After Kim Foxx took over as State’s Attorney late last year, she conducted a review of the case and determined the charges should be dropped.

“The dismissal of these cases today illustrates my absolute commitment to ensuring that this office reviews and addresses any credible claim of wrongful conviction or actual innocence,” Foxx said in a statement, according to the Chicago Tribune.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Johnson thanked his defense team, which included Steve Drizin of the Center on Wrongful Convictions, for believing in his innocence and fighting for his freedom.

“Today they gave me my life back and I can start living again,” Johnson told WGN-TV. “I can’t live for the past but I can definitely live for the future.”

Read the Chicago Tribune coverage here.

Related: FBI Report Says Chicago Police Coerced Confessions of Englewood Four


1 Comment

  1. We are thrilled that Kim Foxx is doing what she said she would during her campaign. Finally, an honest politician. Thanks to the Innocent Project for their hard work and dedication on the behalf of these men. Too many innocent people had all their hopes on the Conviction Integrity Unit’s investigations. For Matt Sopron, a letter to his lawyer told how they were going to look into his case. This was in April 2012 and they have yet to respond to his many requests for an update. How many others have similar stories? Thank God Kim Fox seems to be working hard and justice will prevail for all the innocent people in our prisons.

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