News 10.11.11

Illinois Men Hopeful DNA Evidence Will Clear Their Names

Attorneys for four Chicago-area men are hopeful that new DNA evidence from a 1994 rape and murder case will prove their clients’ innocence.

A Chicago judge held a three-hour hearing yesterday in the case of the four men convicted of killing a woman in the city’s Englewood neighborhood in 1994. Attorneys from the Innocence Project, Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth and the Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago have argued that DNA tests prove the men innocent and point to the identity of the real perpetrator. Meanwhile, an Assistant State’s Attorney said the biological evidence didn’t warrant new trials for the men.

Terrill Swift was paroled earlier this year and has been waiting for DNA evidence to clear his name. Yesterday a Cook County judge said he would issue a decision in the case in November.

“I’ve been waiting on justice for 17 years, and I’m still waiting,” he said as he rejoined family members outside the courtroom of Criminal Court Presiding Judge Paul Biebel Jr.

The men, who were teenagers when convicted, have maintained that they gave coerced confessions after hours of interrogations without the supervision of counsel or guardians. More than 70,000 people nationwide have signed a petition calling on Cook County District Attorney Anita Alvarez to join in seeking to overturn the convictions.

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