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Man Exonerated of Murder Suing Lake County Officials for False Conviction

Posted on in Lake County Defense Attorney

false conviction, Lake County criminal defense attorneyHow can a jury be convinced beyond reasonable doubt that a person committed a murder with which they actually had nothing to do? In some cases, false assumptions, conclusions, and testimony on the part of law enforcement and government officials can convince a jury, along with, of course, the “evidence” of a false confession obtained under very questionable circumstances. Such seems to have been the case for a man convicted in Lake County more than 15 years ago. Recently exonerated, he has now filed a suit against the police and county officials who built the false case against him.

Confession, Conviction, Identification, Exoneration

In 1999, an unidentified woman’s body was found in forest preserve near Waukegan. According to the State’s forensic pathologist at the time, the woman had been abused and died from blunt force trauma less than 12 hours before her body was found. Following intense questioning, the man confessed to inflicting some of the injuries found on the woman’s body. He was subsequently convicted of murder in 2000 and began serving a 46-year prison sentence.

The woman was not identified until 2006, when she was discovered to be developmentally disabled woman from Kane County who had disappeared shortly before her eventual death. Circumstantial details about her known associates around the time of her disappearance led to a reexamination of much of the previously-presented “evidence,” including the medical examiner’s findings. The new investigation found that the woman had actually died several days before she was found, effectively disproving the man’s confession. Though it took several more years, the man was released in 2015 and the charges against him were completely dropped.

Concerns Regarding Lake County Prosecutions

The man is now seeking damages in a federal lawsuit filed against Lake County and its criminal task force, the former Lake County Sheriff, and more than a dozen current and former law enforcement officers. The lawsuit claims that the man’s case is just one of many in which Waukegan police “fabricated evidence, coerced criminal suspects and (aided) witnesses in the creation of fabricated statements that falsely incriminated themselves or others.” It also maintains that the department regularly failed to disclose evidence and information that could have prevented false convictions.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the man may have a valid point. Since 2010, at least six major cases involving significant contributions by the Waukegan police have fallen apart post-conviction, when new evidence proved that wrong person had been convicted. The number is thought to be the highest of any municipal police department in Illinois, and it is not the city’s only problem. Allegations of brutality against the same agency have cost Waukegan and its insurers at least $27 million in payouts in the last decade.

Reliable, Hardworking Defense Counsel

The first step in avoiding a false conviction on any criminal charge is working with an attorney who will continue to fight hard on your behalf. Contact an experienced Lake County criminal defense lawyer right away to get the quality defense that you deserve. Protect your rights; call 847-239-4703 or 773-383-8745 today to schedule your free initial consultation.

Sources:

http://www.law.northwestern.edu/legalclinic/wrongfulconvictions/exonerations/il/jason-strong.html

http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/lake-county-news-sun/news/ct-jason-strong-lake-county-met-20150528-story.html

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-jason-strong-sues-police-met-20160503-story.html

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