Prosecutor To Decide On Further Action After Inmate’s Tossed Conviction

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.

  • Jim Hamilton

    HE’S GUILTY!!!!!!!!!!!

    I hope they don’t let this killer go free

  • Gene

    It’s pretty hard to get around a confession. I would like to read that confession, it should be obvious by the content if he really did it or not!

  • Linda

    If he wasn’t at the scene and his DNA doesn’t match, how can he be guilty ? These prosecutors are like a mad dog with a bone, they just don’t want to let go even when they are 100% wrong.

    • Gene

      @Linda, Innocent people don’t normally confess to crimes they didn’t commit, especially a murder. We all should be able to read the confession, that would tell us alot!

      • christine

        Gene, innocent people confess to crimes they didn’t commit more often than you’d think. If you cared to use the internet for good, instead of for ignorant posting, you’d easily find a plethora of articles, studies, programs, expert testimonies discussing the phenomena of false confessions. As a potential juror, you and Jim are an innocent person’s worst nightmare: all uneducated, emotional reaction, and no real thought.

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