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Convictions Tossed In 1991 Dixmoor Rape, Murder

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Robert Taylor, Jonathan Barr and James Harden (Credit: Illinois Department of Corrections)

Robert Taylor, Jonathan Barr and James Harden (Credit: Illinois Department of Corrections)

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MARKHAM, Ill. (CBS) — Cook County prosecutors have cleared three men of a rape and murder that occurred 20 years ago in south suburban Dixmoor.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports, new DNA testing implicates another man who is a convicted rapist.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports

The five men convicted of the crime were teenagers when the Cateresa Matthews, 14, was raped and murdered in 1991. Three of the boys were 14, the other two 16.

Cateresa’s body was found in a field, three weeks after she disappeared on Nov. 19, 1991, the Chicago Tribune reported.

It would be a year before charges were filed against the five. Two of the boys – Robert Lee Veal and Shainnie Sharp – agreed to plead guilty and testify against the others – Robert Taylor, Jonathan Barr and James Harden – in exchange for reduced sentences, the Tribune reported.

Veal and Sharp served about 10 years, while the others got 80 to 85 years.

But last year, the two who implicated the others recanted. One, according to his attorney, had a severe learning disability when he agreed to sign a confession.

DNA evidence now matches that of another convicted rapist, but prosecutors argued against new trials for the men on the grounds that the DNA did not qualify as new evidence, the Tribune reported.

But the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office on Thursday vacated the rape and murder convictions for Taylor, Barr and Harden, and plan to dismiss of the convictions for Veal and Sharp, whose sentences are over, the newspaper reported.

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