Black People : Three Men from Illinois, Exonerated of 1991 Rape and Murder, Exonerations of Two Others

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by oldsoul, Nov 6, 2011.

  1. OldSoul

    OldSoul Permanent Black Man PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Three Men from Cook County, Illinois, Exonerated of 1991 Rape and Murder, Exonerations of Two Others to Follow


    After DNA testing linked a rapist to the 1991 rape and murder of a 14-year-old southwest suburban girl, a Cook County Circuit Court judge today set aside the convictions of three men who were convicted of the crime by confessions now known to be false. Robert Taylor, James Harden and Jonathan Barr, all of whom were teenagers when arrested, are represented by the University of Chicago’s Exoneration Project, the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth with private attorney Jennifer Blagg and the Innocence Project.

    In court today, the State’s Attorney’s Office noted that it would be filing papers soon to vacate the convictions of Robert Lee Veal and Shainne Sharp who were also wrongfully convicted of the crime.

    “This is one of the most tragic miscarriages of justice that we’ve seen in this state and perhaps the nation. Even before they were convicted, the state had DNA evidence proving that the confessions were false, yet it chose to go forward with the prosecutions in spite of this evidence and over the objections of a juvenile court judge,” said Tara Thompson of the UChicago Law School Exoneration Project. “This destroyed the lives of these young men while the real perpetrator was allowed to go free, destroying even more lives during a 20-year crime spree.”

    On November 19, 1991, Cateresa Matthews, a 14-year-old student at Rosa Parks Middle School in Dixmoor, IL, went missing. Her body was discovered 19 days later on a footpath in a residential neighborhood near Interstate 57 in Dixmoor. She had been raped and shot in the mouth. Nearly a year after the murder, the Illinois State Police interrogated Veal, a 15-year-old student from the same school. After 5 hours in police custody, Veal signed a written statement implicating himself, Taylor (15), Barr (15), Harden (17) and Sharp (17). After 4 hours in custody, Taylor also signed a written confession. Two days later, after 21 hours in custody, Sharp did the same.

    In June 1994, before any of the teenagers were tried, the Illinois State Police crime lab identified a lone male DNA profile from sperm recovered from the victim’s body. Even though all 5 defendants were excluded as the source of the semen, the prosecution pushed forward rather than seeking the source of the semen recovered from this young victim. Based on doubts about the truthfulness of the confessions, a juvenile court judge refused to charge Barr and Taylor in adult criminal court, a decision later reversed by an appellate court. Veal and Sharp pled guilty to first-degree murder and received a 20-year sentence (they were eligible for release just 7 years from the date of their pleas) in exchange for agreeing to testify against Harden, Barr and Taylor. Over the next 2 years, all 3 were convicted, and each was sentenced to at least 80 years in prison. All subsequent appeals were denied, including a post-conviction request for DNA testing.

    Brothers Barr and Harden were just 14 and 16 when Matthews was murdered. Neither Barr nor Harden confessed to the crime and have always maintained their innocence. Their father, James Harden, Sr., provided an alibi at each of their trials, testifying that he was home with the boys on the alleged day the victim was murdered. Barr and Harden’s mother and father both passed away while they were incarcerated.

    Taylor was also just 14 at the time of the murder. After a relentless interrogation, he signed a written statement confessing to the crime. He recanted soon thereafter but was convicted at trial based on his statement and the testimony from Veal and Sharp. Taylor plans to live with his father, Robert Taylor, Sr., who has stood by him throughout his two-decade fight to clear his name.


     
  2. Ms Drea

    Ms Drea STAFF STAFF

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    Great post..Bro. Soul!!
     
  3. skuderjaymes

    skuderjaymes Contextualizer Synthesizer MEMBER

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    our prisons are full of these kinds of cases.. these are criminal acts by law enforcement and justice system officials and they should be held criminally liable.. they should not be able to just say they made a mistake.. they should be in front of a judge themselves.. they should be sent to prison themselves.. that kind of accountability is the only way cops and judges can be convinced to take the lives of black people seriously.. and the only way they can be convinced to do their jobs with all the diligence necessary to prevent these kinds of tragedies from occurring. And I'm using the word "tragedy" in a half-hearted kind of way.. theres something about that word that shirks any real responsibility.. The right term may be Atrocity.. because I really believe that these wrongful convictions are deliberate racist acts performed in the maintenance of black subjugation in America. The State is invulnerable.. you have no recourse.. that's absolute power with no one to answer to.. and thats the reason these types of frame-ups will continue to happen.. DNA or no DNA... these are not mistakes.
     
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