New DNA tests end life sentences for 2 BY DON BABWIN Chicago Sun-Times/AP
More than a decade after two men were sentenced to life in prison for the sexual assault and murder of a Chicago woman, prosecutors dismissed the charges Monday and set one of the men free, saying new DNA testing had failed to link them to the crime.
Dan Young Jr., now 44, left the state prison in Pontiac Monday afternoon. The other man convicted in the 1990 attack, Harold Hill, 31, has three years left to serve in an armed robbery case, said Cook County State's Attorney's spokesman John Gorman. [...] The dismissal raises questions about the conduct of Chicago police investigators who said Hill and Morgan confessed. Both men contended they confessed only after being mistreated by police.
"Once again we have the situation of false confessions," Zellner told reporters after Monday's hearing.
Allegations that Chicago police detectives have obtained false confessions, sometimes after torturing suspects, have plagued the department in recent years. Just before he left office, former Gov. George Ryan pardoned four ex-death row inmates who claimed they had confessed only after they were beaten, suffocated and electrocuted by Chicago detectives.
Detectives have denied the claim that they mistreated Hill and Morgan or a third man whom they said had confessed to the crime. That man, Peter Williams, was later released after investigators determined he had been in jail at the time of the murder....
Forensics under the microscope: 2 men exonerated in 1990 murder
By Steve Mills and Jeff Coen
Chicago Tribune staff reporters
Published January 31, 2005, 5:38 PM CST
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Cook County prosecutors today dropped murder charges against two men who have spent more than 12 years behind bars, after DNA test results undermined their confessions and testimony from a dentist who implicated the two through a bite mark and a hickey.
Dan Young Jr. and Harold Hill were exonerated after a forensic dental expert reexamined the bite mark on the victim's body, and a final round of DNA tests again came back and failed to implicate the two defendants.
The case against Young and Hill was featured in the Tribune's October 2004 series, "Forensics Under the Microscope," which exposed the use of faulty forensics in the courtroom. The series showed how bite mark testimony has been used as a prosecutorial tool though there is no accurate way to measure its reliability, and the story quoted a dentist used by the prosecution against Young and Hill as saying he felt "pushed" to testify in a harsh light. The Tribune first wrote about questions surrounding the case in 2001, in a series that investigated how police obtained false confessions. [...] Dr. David Sweet, considered one of the top forensic dental experts in the world, said in a report sent Dec. 13 to defense and prosecution attorneys that a bite mark on the victim was not suitable for comparison because the body had been damaged by a fire apparently set to cover up the crime. The report rebutted testimony given by Park Ridge dentist John Kenney that Young and Hill were responsible for marks on Morgan.
The state's attorney's office and Zellner had jointly agreed upon Sweet to analyze the evidence and to accept his opinion. Hill had sought a new trial based on the dental examination as well as previous DNA tests that failed to link them to the crime. The DNA tests that have been completed to date have identified the genetic profiles of two other unknown men. Latest test results of DNA taken from the victim's clothing again came back negative for the two defendants, prosecutors said today. The only other evidence linking Young and Hill were alleged confessions to detectives. Those confessions have been questioned because police at the time said a third man, Peter Williams, had confessed as well. After police learned Williams was in jail at the time of the crime, he was released.....
According to WFLD broadcast news from the night of Monday, January 31, 2005, Young has an IQ of 55.
So let's see. Two men allegedly confessed to a crime despite not knowing each other, and provably not being the people who committed the rape Another confessed despite having the most ironclad of alibis, witnessed by actual law enforcement officials. Yet the Chicago police state that they did nothing wrong.
These men were incredibly lucky. They caught the wave, so to speak. They got into the right part of the system at the right time in the right place. They had people to help them when they'd essentially exhausted their appeals; as lifers, rather than death row inmates, they had far fewer appeals available to them. The state's attorney's office not only cooperated with the inquiry, but paid half the cost of the testing; since those men weren't on death row, the state would not normally have paid any of the cost of innocence testing.
They were incredibly, unspeakably lucky men.
Luck shouldn't have anything to do with this, somehow.Posted by iain at February 01, 2005 12:10 AM