WAUKEGAN, Ill. (CBS) — Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Waller is expected to meet Monday with his appellate prosecutors to decide whether to pursue any further criminal action against Juan Rivera.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports, an Illinois Appellate Court panel Friday threw out Rivera’s conviction in the third trial stemming from the 1992 rape and murder of 11-year-old Holly Staker.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports
In its order, the panel specifically barred a fourth trial for Rivera. But Waller still has the option of seeking a rehearing by the panel or could ask Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to go before the state Supreme Court, seeking to reinstate the conviction.
The Center on Wrongful Convictions has worked for years on Rivera’s case, and its executive director, Rob Warden, said he hopes that Waller will opt not to take any further action and allow Rivera to go free.
Rivera was on electronic monitoring the day Holly was killed, and it placed him two miles away from the home in which she was babysitting. DNA recovered from her body did not match Rivera’s.
Eventually, Rivera was brought in and interrogated for nearly 24 hours straight. He ended up confessing to the crime and was ultimately sentenced to life.
The assistant state’s attorney who has pursued the case against Rivera, Michael Mermel, is retiring at the end of the month, and Waller has tried in recent weeks to distance himself from some of Mermel’s theories on the case.
Rivera remains at Stateville Correctional Center as the decisions are made. Warden and Rivera’s appellate defender, Terri Mascherin, said he is elated by last week’s ruling and looking forward to his release.