Eighty-year-old Darrel Parker, who was wrongfully convicted of the 1955 murder of his wife and sentenced to life in prison, was formally declared innocent on Friday and will finally be compensated. Parker was paroled in 1970— after his confession was deemed coerced — and pardoned in 1991, reported the
“You never give up hope, you never give up hope,” an emotional, 80-year-old Parker said at a news conference, flanked by his lawyers and the attorney general. “I tell people, ‘Now, I can die in peace.’”
The state had just agreed to stop fighting Parker’s wrongful conviction lawsuit. Instead, Attorney General Jon Bruning apologized, admitted Parker was wrongly convicted and announced the state would pay him $500,000 — the maximum allowed by law.
“It became crystal clear that Mr. Parker is innocent,” Bruning said. “This was the most important thing I could do as attorney general, to right this wrong.”
Parker continued to seek a full exoneration upon his release and hoped DNA testing would prove his innocence, but he eventually learned that most of the evidence in his case had disappeared. He remarried, worked for the Illinois Parks Department, and later took a job at a law firm. Although he managed to rebuild his life, Parker waited decades to receive an apology for the injustice. It is only now that the state has admitted Parker’s innocence that he can receive compensation.
About one-third of the nearly 300 people exonerated by DNA testing have not been compensated. Without immediate assistance in many states, even exonerees who receive compensation wait an average of three years before funds are awarded.
compensation for the wrongfully convicted
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