CHICAGO (AP) – Prosecutors dropped charges Friday against a man who served eight years for murder after a legal clinic representing him said DNA tests proved his innocence.
Maurice Patterson has always maintained his innocence in the 2002 stabbing death of Robert Head, Rob Warden, the executive director of the Northwestern University Law School Center on Wrongful Convictions, said.
In November, a judge ordered a new trial for the 54-year-old Patterson and on Friday, during a routine hearing, prosecutors told the judge that they were dismissing the charges against him.
He was scheduled to be released later that day.
Warden said that the prosecutors’ case had been based entirely on eyewitness testimony.
A bloody knife was found along what was believed to have been the route the killer took after the stabbing and tests revealed a match with both Head and someone in the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System database, he said.
He said charges had not been filed against that person.
When he was sentenced to prison, Patterson told Head’s family members that authorities had convicted the wrong man.
“If I come back tomorrow, next month or a year or five years, I will be back and are you going to be here to apologize to me because I didn’t kill that man,” said Patterson in a transcript of the hearing that Warden read. “I never even saw that man, never in my life.”
After dropping the charges, the state’s attorney’s office noted that Circuit Court Judge James Linn’s order in November also summarily dismissed motions made by Patterson’s attorneys that alleged intentional misconduct by prosecutors.
“It’s wrong and unfair to suggest that there was any type of intentional misconduct on the part of the state’s atorney’s office in this case,” said Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. “Our office acted in good faith throughout the trial and the appellate process.”
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