INNOCENCE: Prosecutors Drop Charges Against Two Illinois Men Freed by DNA Testing

Cook County prosecutors have dropped all charges against Michael Evans and Paul Terry, two men who had been convicted of raping and murdering a 9-year-old girl in 1976. Following DNA testing that cleared the Illinois men, the state freed Evans and Terry 26 years after they were sentenced to serve 200 to 400 years in prison for the crime. (In many states, the defendants could have been sentenced to death and executed before their exoneration.) The men were 17 at the time of the crime, and no physical evidence linked them to the murder. The case began to unravel in 1994, when the lead prosecutor in the case confided to a friend at Northwestern University's Center on Wrongful Convictions that he had misgivings about the case. The Center petitioned to conduct multiple DNA tests that each concluded the men were not responsible for the crime, and a subsequent investigation by the Chicago Tribune revealed additional information casting doubt on their convictions. Prosecutors say that they have reopened the case. (Chicago Tribune, August 22, 2003) See Innocence.