News 01.07.13

Bennie Starks Exonerated After 25 Year Struggle to Clear His Name

Bennie Starks with Lauren Kaeseberg. Photo: Ingrid Bonne


Innocence Project client Bennie Starks walked out of a Lake County, Illinois, courthouse today a free man, ending a 25-year struggle to clear his name, including multiple rounds of DNA testing and three separate appeals. Newly elected State’s Attorney Mike Nerheim agreed to dismiss the remaining charges pending against Starks from a 1986 rape and battery. Though DNA testing from as early as 2000 excluded Starks as the perpetrator, former Lake County prosecutors repeatedly refused to acknowledge the results, coming up with improbable theories to deny Starks’ innocence.


Starks’ exoneration comes one month after a court date last month was rescheduled due to a legal technicality. The

Chicago Tribune


“I don’t even have any words. I am overwhelmed with joy. It’s finally over,” Bennie Starks said outside the Lake County courthouse this morning, minutes after all the details of dropping the case had been ironed out.

The Innocence Project first agreed to represent Starks in 1996. Lauren Kaeseberg, a criminal defense attorney in the Chicago who worked on Starks’ case since she was a Cardozo law clinic student at the Innocence Project in 2004, joined Starks in court today.


Read the

full Chicago Tribune article and watch a video of Starks immediately after the hearing



Read the

press release



Read more about the case





Leave a reply

Thank you for visiting us. You can learn more about how we consider cases here. Please avoid sharing any personal information in the comments below and join us in making this a hate-speech free and safe space for everyone.

Thanks for your comment

Featured news

Press "Enter" or click on the arrow to show results.