In July 2018, after serving nearly nearly two decades in prison for a 2000 murder, Xavier Walker won a new trial.
Walker had several alibi witnesses ready to testify that he was at home when Mark Madjak was gunned down in West Garfield Park. Walker, then only 19, also had a witness whom he’d told police had beaten him before he confessed, as well as photographs showing his injuries.
But none of that evidence was brought out by his lawyer at the time, and Walker received a 35-year prison sentence for murder. State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office agreed to vacate his conviction and 35-year sentence, though Walker remained at the Cook County Jail on a no-bond order from Judge Alfredo Maldonado.
Assistant Public Defender Harold Winston said that he did not know whether prosecutors intend to take the case to trial again, but he said that he’s confident the evidence will show Walker is not guilty.
For details see https://chicago.suntimes.com/?post_type=cst_article&p=1236571
Exonerated December 2019, exoneration report here.
In April 2015, Rodney Franck intervened to stop a brutal assault on 54-year-old Christopher Brewster, who was left in a coma and died in June 2015. Subsequently, the perpetrator of the assault, Spencer Pell, bragged about the attack to more than 10 individuals before giving a voluntary confession to police.
Despite overwhelming evidence that Pell was the assailant, Franck was subsequently charged with murder. His trial is set for August 2018.
For more details see http://www.usobserver.com/prosecutor-disregards-confession-of-killer/
On the morning of July 16, 1996, a retired employee of Tardy Furniture entered the store and found four bodies: the owner and three workers at the store; they had all been shot. Curtis Flowers was suspected after police learned that he had been fired from the store 13 days prior to the murders.
Flowers has been tried six times. The first three convictions were overturned on appeal, the next two trials had hung juries, in the 6th trial he was convicted and sentenced to death.
There is evidence that witnesses were coerced, and three jailhouse informants who were persuaded to testify that Flowers confessed to them have retracted.
Flowers, age 26 at the time of the quadruple murder, had no criminal record and was known in the community as a gospel singer. His family assert that he could not have committed the murders.
Flowers’ case was the subject of an 11-part podcast by American Public Media, in which one of the jailhouse informants retracted his testimony, and other witnesses say they were coerced.
September 4, 2020: charges dropped.
In 1999, Paul Howell was shot and killed in Edmond, Oklahoma during the theft of his SUV. The victim’s sister, who was a passenger in the vehicle and witnessed the shooting, testified that the shooter had approximately a half-inch of hair sticking out from underneath a stocking cap.
The witness’s physical description of the man who shot her brother fit that of Mr. Jones’ friend, Christopher Jordan, who was one of the prosecution’s main witnesses against Mr. Jones. Mr. Jones’ attorneys, who were public defenders with no capital trial experience, failed to show the jury a photograph of Mr. Jones, taken a few days before the shooting, illustrating that Mr. Jones’ had low, crew-cut hair and proving that he could not be the person who the victim’s sister described.
Mr. Jones’ attorneys failed to cross examine Mr. Jordan on the six different and inconsistent statements he gave to the police after his arrest. They also failed to put on evidence showing that Mr. Jordan was likely the actual shooter and was testifying against Mr. Jones to avoid the death penalty.