A Cook County judge vacated the convictions of two men serving life sentences for a 1995 double murder after their defense team introduced new fingerprint evidence implicating an alternate perpetrator.
Charles Johnson and Larod Styles were convicted two decades ago for the shooting deaths of Yousef Ali and Khalid Ibrahim during a robbery at a used car lot. According to Johnson’s and Styles’ attorneys, the men were coerced into falsely confessing to the crimes. They were teenagers when they were tried and sentenced to life in prison.
Attorneys from Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions say they found fingerprints on a car at the lot and on a sticker taken from one of the cars stolen from the lot. By running the fingerprints through a database, they discovered that the fingerprints match those of man with a long criminal record who lived near the location where the stolen cars were found. “The same prints were also found on the stolen cars themselves—which were abandoned about five miles from the crime scene,” reports the Chicago Sun-Times.
Judge Domenica A. Stephenson denied the men bail, leaving their families disappointed. The Sun-Times reports, however, that the men’s attorneys are confident the state will eventually dismiss the charges.
“We’re still hoping that the state’s attorneys office will come to the right conclusion and decide not to retry these young men,” defense attorney Terry Campbell told the Sun-Times.
“They’ve already taken 20 years of their lives and now for the first time today have come out and said this newly discovered evidence would likely have changed the result to not guilty.”
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