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WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS: SOCIETY LOSES OUT, ....THREE TIMES OVER

Americans demand a criminal justice system that is tough on crime. When we look closely at criminal cases, most of us sympathize with the victims, ….not the criminals. When a truly horrible crime is committed, and the guilty individual receives a lean punishment, we all lose. However, when the system malfunctions—and an innocent person is punished—society loses out, ….three times over.

  1. An innocent person is wrongfully incarcerated, ….or in some cases, ….PUT TO DEATH.
  2. A falsely targeted person (such as Chicago's Juan Johnson) might serve a few decades in prison. Once the power of DNA exonerates such an inmate, there is often an award of ENORMOUS COMPENSATION FROM THE CIVIL COURTS. The taxpayers are saddled with this burden.
  3. When a misguided criminal investigation/trial sends an innocent person to prison—this allows the REAL criminal to victimize MORE innocent people.

The most recent, glaring example of an ill-fated series of prosecutions occurred in Chicago (apparently, very little was learned from the Juan Johnson catastrophe). Along with various partner organizations, NORTHWESTERN LAW SCHOOL'S CENTER ON WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS played a key role in the DNA-based exonerations of JONATHAN BARR, JAMES HARDEN, SHAINNE SHARP, ROBERT TAYLOR, AND ROBERT LEE VEAL.

On November 19, 1991, 14-year-old Cateresa Matthews was abducted as she walked home from her middle school in Dixmoor, Illinois-a South Chicago suburb. A few weeks later, her body was found. The teenager had been sexually assaulted and shot. Almost one year later, Illinois State Police investigators interrogated a student from Cateresa’s middle school. Robert Lee Veal—who was 15-years old at the time—signed a confession. The document also implicated the other four boys.

Amazingly, the crime lab’s Forensic Biologist was able to discover a semen sample from the body of Ms. Matthews. Unfortunately, the DNA type from this semen sample did not match any of the five suspected boys. Naturally, the prosecution ignored this fact and pushed forward with the case. The flimsy case was founded almost entirely upon coerced false confessions from three of the five boys.

In 2009, attorneys for the accused submitted requests for post-conviction DNA testing. When the Dixmoor Police Department refused to cooperate, Judge Michele Simmons ordered them to allow defense counsel to examine the stored evidence.

In March 2011, after DNA tests were *finally* forced by the Court, a DNA database match was discovered between case evidence items and a man named Willie Randolph. The Illinois State Attorney’s Office immediately submitted a motion, attempting to downplay the DNA results. After eight additional months of dodging justice, the Cook County Circuit Court finally began setting aside the convictions.

While the innocent teenagers were wrongfully incarcerated, Willie. Randolph went on a 20-YEAR CRIME SPREE. The man was prosecuted for subsequent acts of domestic violence, burglary, and assault with a deadly weapon. It is anybody’s guess whether or not there were additional unsolved rapes/homicides—similar to the Cateresa Matthews case. Randolph denied all wrongdoing. That issue was put to rest by the presence of his semen from the preserved 1991 evidence, taken together with the statements from a 2nd female victim. This new witness testified that Randolph raped her at the same location where Cateresa Matthews had been raped and murdered.

The next article is entitiled:

Satanic Cow Dung: The West Memphis 3 Story

Michael J. Spence, Ph.D.

February 1, 2012

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