News 07.07.09

Charges Dropped in Illinois and a Confession is Questioned in Michigan

Two Chicago men are expected to be freed today after prosecutors announced that they did not have sufficient evidence to retry them. Ronald Kitchen, 50, and Marvin Reeves, 43, have served more than two decades in prison for give murders they say they didn’t commit.

Kitchen supposedly confessed to committing the crime after hours of interrogations and alleged beatings by Chicago detectives including Jon Burge, who is now facing federal charges for his role in several wrongful convictions. Based on the alleged confession and the testimony of a jailhouse informant, Kitchen was sentenced to death and Reeves to life. Kitchen’s death sentence would later be commuted to life.

The Center on Wrongful Convictions sought the men’s freedom based on evidence of their innocence, and presiding judge Paul Biebel ordered all charges against the men dismissed today.

“This is wonderful day I’ve been praying for this day for 20 years,” Reeves’ mother, Pollyanna Reeves, said after the hearing this morning.


Read the full story here

. (Chicago Sun-Times, 07/07/09)

Meanwhile in Michigan, a judge is considering whether to allow false confession expert Richard Leo to testify at the trial of Jerome Kowalski, who says he falsely confessed to killing his brother and sister-in-law in 2008.

"Mr. Kowalski comes to believe he committed a crime and desperately searches for details … despite the fact (of) having no memory to do so," testified Richard Leo, associate professor of law at the University of San Francisco.

While police say the defendant confessed, they also acknowledge there are some discrepancies in the defendant's story and the crime scene.


Read the full story here

. (Livingston Daily, 07/07/2009)

The Innocence Project urges state legislatures and individual police departments to require the recording of custodial interrogations to prevent false confessions. Not only do the recordings provide an accurate record of an interrogation for a judge and jury, they also serve as investigative and training tools for law enforcement officers.

Read more here

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