Two men, who have been cleared through DNA testing of a 1991 Chicago-area murder that they didn’t commit, are still struggling to have their convictions overturned, although their three co-defendants were exonerated on November 3 with the same evidence. Robert Veal and Shainne Sharp pled guilty to the murder and testified against their three co-defendants in exchange for reduced sentences. The “Dixmoor Five” were wrongfully convicted as teenagers based largely on their false confessions.
On Friday, a Cook County Circuit Court Judge refused to overturn the convictions and suggested that Veal and Sharp must seek a pardon in order to be exonerated. The three who have recently been exonerated—Robert Taylor, Jonathan Barr and James Harden—attended the hearing in a show of support.
“The system is messed up. I don’t have no hard feelings,” Taylor said outside the courtroom, noting that he and Veal had been good friends and high school classmates at the time of their arrest. “They were used, just like we were used.”
Veal has been living in Minnesota but has had difficulty finding employment with the murder still on his record. Sharp is currently incarcerated in Illinois on unrelated charges. Twenty-three of the 280 people exonerated through DNA testing also pled guilty of crimes that they didn’t commit.