Charges Dropped Against The ‘Marquette Park 4’ After New Evidence

CHICAGO (CBS) –They are known as the Marquette Park Four. The four men who collectively spend more than 70 years in prison for a crime they did not commit.

Charges against the men were dropped Wednesday. CBS 2’s Sandra Torres has the story.

“I can’t thank these guys enough,” said Charles Johnson. “Today, they gave me my life back.”

Charles Johnson thanks the group of attorneys who helped him and three other men achieve freedom.

“It’s an army of people just helped us along this road to be present here with you all,” said Larod Styles.

Johnson, Larod Styles, Lawshawn Ezell and Troshawn McCoy were teenagers when they were convicted for a 1995 double murder and armed robbery at a car dealership on Western Avenue.

“I went everywhere trying to seek help for my son and everybody would close the door in my face,” said Theresa Johnson, Charles’ mother. “But they believed in us.”

A group of attorneys believed in the four men and their investigation led to charges being dismissed Wednesday, against the men known as the Marquette Park 4.

“Thanks to the investigators who found evidence, did due diligence, who did everything he could,” said Lawshawn Ezell.

“We were able to discover powerful fingerprint evidence,” said attorney Justin Barker, Kirkland and Ellis. “Evidence that proved conclusively that someone else committed this crime.”

The attorneys also proved the four men were forced to make a confession.

“Today, the Marquette Park 4 joined a list of men and women that have made Chicago the false confession capital of the world,” said Steve Drizzin, Northwestern Law School.

Troshawn McCoy is still behind bars, but should be released soon, now that the charges have been dropped.

In a statement, state’s attorney Kim Foxx said her office is conducting a top to bottom review of similar cases to implement protocols on best practices.

“My office is committed to seeking justice in all its forms, including identifying and addressing wrongful convictions. The dismissal of these cases today illustrates my absolute commitment to ensuring that this office reviews and addresses any credible claim of wrongful conviction or actual innocence in all cases prosecuted by the CCSAO.

Following an extensive re-examination of all the evidence in these cases, including a review of new fingerprint evidence, we have reached the conclusion that we would not be able to sustain our burden of proof if these cases were retried. Accordingly, we dismissed the cases at today’s court appearance.

One of my top priorities for this office is to maintain a robust and high quality Conviction Integrity Unit, building on best practices from other jurisdictions. We are currently conducting a top to bottom review of the CIU unit to develop and implement protocols for thorough case reviews that draw on best practices from other jurisdictions. As we conduct that review, my first assistant and chief deputy are reviewing every case that is referred to the CIU.”

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