The media has seemed to display a marked penchant for naming groups of suspected criminals after the location of the crime and the number of those involved. Recall the Central Park Five, who wrongfully confessed and were convicted of a rape and attempted murder they did not commit in a 1990's New York nightmare that enraptured national media attention. The five men, then teenagers, were exonerated when DNA evidence matched the real perpetrator to the crime. The fact that none of the boy's DNA was shown to be a match at the time of conviction was a negligible inconsequentiality, apparently. Now, in another case named for a big city park, the Marquette Park Four have been exonerated. The 1995 murder and robbery for which they were wrongfully convicted occurred at a south side Chicago dealership.
Lawyers for Charles Johnson, Larod Styles, and Troshawn McCoy showed that the boys were coerced by detective James Cassidy into making false confessions. Cassidy developed a track record for scraping false confessions from a number of minors, leading to years collectively spent in prison for many innocent people, according to Steven A. Drizin, Northwestern University Law School.
"We was young when we got locked up, so we was forced to grow up fast," Charles Johnson told reporters. The uncovering of wrongful convictions revealed through aggressive and diligent investigation, as well as newfound DNA evidence, do much to shine a light on the trappings and shortcomings of the legal system, an imperfect, well-aiming machine. Between overzealous prosecutors and conclusion-hungry detectives, it is perfectly possible for an innocent person to suddenly be bogged down with charges for a crime they did not commit. The possibility of wrongfully imprisoning an innocent individual is probably the most substantial reason why the state and court system take their power quite soberly.
Once convicted, Johnson's mother took it upon herself to carry on the fight, maintaining his innocence and pressing on to find an attorney to take up their cause. Lawyers from blue-chip firms, the University of Chicago and Northwestern's Center for Wrongful Convictions fought for the Johnsons for years prior to the overturning of this conviction.
None of the fingerprints at the crime scene matched those convicted and their prison sentences were commuted. This all comes at the behest of a new law that allows for admission of new evidence after the close of a trial - it is seemingly unique to Illinois and could be called pioneering given the results it provided for in the lives of these men, imprisoned as minors for crimes they did not commit. The exonerations hammer the need to yield to DNA evidence, or lack thereof, in criminal cases so as to avoid prison sentences for the innocent. The men gave endless thanks to the loved ones and the army of lawyers who continued fighting for their cause - the Cook County State Attorney's Office is currently a top to bottom review.
If you have received criminal charges for an offense in the state of Washington, do not hesitate to contact experienced and devoted criminal defense lawyer Steve Karimi for a free consultation of your case.
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