Late last week, Cook County prosecutors agreed to drop the decades old murder conviction and life sentence of a Chicago man after new evidence emerged suggesting he was innocent.
Deon Patrick, 42, was released from prison on Friday after prosecutors agreed that the case against him was flawed because it was based on questionable confessions.
The Case In Question
The case and subsequent conviction revolved around the November 1992 murders of Jeffery Lassiter and Sharon Haugabook. Patrick was one of eight men charged with murder in connection with the incident. When police grilled the men about the killings, each accused member implicated a different person as the triggerman, while Patrick remained adamant that he was innocent.
Patrick spent 30 hours in custody being interrogated about the incident, and he eventually signed a written confession that was drafted by the state prosecutor. While the signed confession made up a large portion of evidence against Patrick at the trial, it was the testimony of another accused member that sunk Patrick’s proverbial ship. Daniel Taylor provided a lengthy court-reported confession at trial that stated Patrick had shot both Lassiter and Haugabook.
The judge eventually sentenced five of the eight men to prison, and three of them were given life sentences, Patrick being one of them.
Truth Comes Out
In 2001, as part of an investigative series called “Cops and Confessions,” the Chicago Tribune uncovered evidence that Taylor was actually in police custody during the time of the murders. Police records show that Taylor had been arrested two hours before the murders, and he wasn’t released until an hour after the killings.
Based on the new evidence, prosecutors agreed to release Taylor from prison in June of 2013, saying it was done in the interest of justice.
Patrick’s attorneys attempted to secure release for their client based upon the fact that if Taylor was locked up during the murders, he couldn’t have definitively known who pulled the trigger.
Taylor’s release prompted a months-long review of Patrick’s case. Prosecutors listened to new arguments at a hearing last month, but they still refused to drop the charges. On Friday, the prosecutors reversed their stance.
Sean Sullivan comments
It sounds like there were serious holes in the prosecution’s case against this man.
When people ask me why I am a defense attorney, I tell them it is because of cases like this. People like to think that everyone convicted is actually guilty, but that is not always the case. Sometimes innocent people go to jail for crimes they could not have committed, or they fall victim to false testimony.
That’s why I am a defense attorney. To see that innocent people never go to jail for a crime they did not commit.
Related source: Chicago Tribune