CHICAGO (CBS) — A Hickory Hills day care worker who has spent almost 10 years behind bars after being convicted of shaking an infant to death told WBBM she doesn’t think she will see the prison gates again – now that a judge has ordered her freed.
“It doesn’t feel completely real yet because I’m still here. But it’s starting to sink in,” Jennifer Del Prete said in an interview from the Logan Correctional Center.
Del Prete has been in prison since 2005, after being convicted of killing a 14-month-old baby in her care.
A federal judge has ordered Del Prete freed while her appeal winds through the legal system – an unusual step, but the judge says there is “substantial” evidence that points to her innocence.
“I don’t think I will see inside these gates again. I think it’s not going to be just handed to me on a silver platter. I think I’m going to have to… I might have to face another trial. But I’ll continue to fight it out there,” Del Prete said.
Del Prete said her son is 17 now, and her daughter is 24. Her daughter is getting married next month.
“It looks very hopeful that — almost guaranteed, not completely yet until I’m out the door, but almost guaranteed — I’ll be at that wedding,” Del Prete said.
A date for her release from prison has not yet been set.
Some of the evidence cited by the federal judge was discovered by a Northwestern University journalism class working with the Medill Justice Project.