Background on Englewood and Dixmoor cases
In November of 1994, the naked body of a 30-year-old woman was found strangled to death behind a house in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago's South Side. Four months later, a tip allegedly led police to investigate five teenagers in the murder. After intense interrogations, police said that all five had confessed to raping and killing the woman, although there were major factual discrepancies in their statements. Semen was identified on samples collected from the victim's body and an early form of DNA testing was conducted, excluding all five suspects as possible contributors. Despite this evidence, prosecutors went forward with trials.
Based almost exclusively on the confessions, three of the menTerrill Swift, Harold Richardson and Michael Saunderswere convicted by a judge and sentenced to 30-40 years in prison. A fourth, Vincent Thames, pled guilty in exchange for a 30-year sentence. Prosecutors dropped charges against the fifth man after his confession was suppressed.
|Terrill Swift, then and now.
In May 2011, a complete DNA profile of the semen found on the victim's body was compared to a national database at the request of the CWCY and other organizations. The profile implicated another man, now deceased, who had been connected to a series of violent assaults and murders. Although the State has previously argued that any DNA match in this case would be inconclusive due to the lifestyle of the victim, who was known to engage in prostitution, the semen found in the strangled body of Ms. Glover is from a man that the Cook County State's Attorney's office has long believed was responsible for two strangulation-murders of prostitutes and violent assaults of at least five others.
In this case, the CWCY represents Terrill Swift, who has served has served the entirety of his sentence but remains on parole and the sex offender registry. Richardson and Saunders, who are represented by the Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago Law School and the Innocence Project (NY), respectively, are still incarcerated. Thames, who served his complete sentence and was released recently, is represented by attorneys at Valorem Law Group.
Chicago Breaking News: New DNA tests may clear 4 in woman's murder
Chicago Tribune: Man convicted in 1994 rape, murder pins hopes on advanced DNA test
Click here to view our legal filing in Englewood
In 1991, a 14-year-old girl was sexually assaulted and killed in Dixmoor, a village in south suburban Chicago. Ten months after the victim's body was found, police focused their investigation around Robert Taylor, Jonathan Barr, James Harden, Robert Lee Veal and Shainne Sharp. Three of them confessed after high-pressure police interrogations, and all five were arrested and charged with the crime.
|Robert Taylor at age 15 and in his most recent prison photo
DNA testing was conducted on sperm cells from swabs of the victim's body, and the profile pointed to a single unidentified maleexcluding all five teens. Regardless, the five men were charged with the crime. Two of them pled guilty and testified against the others in exchange for shorter sentences. Both men have since recanted their testimony. The other three were convicted after trials, and each was sentenced to at least 80 years in prison.
In March 2011, DNA from semen found on the victim's body was linked to a man with a lengthy record, including sexual assault and armed robbery convictions. He was 32 years old when his DNA was found in the 14-year-old victim's body, and he currently lives in Chicago. In a written motion opposing the release of the Dixmoor Five, the State's Attorney's office downplayed the significance of the DNA results, which clearly implicate a man with no connection to the five teens convicted of the crime.
The CWCY represents Taylor, who was arrested in 1992 and remains in custody to this day. Barr and Harden also remain in custody, who are represented by the Exoneration Project and the Innocence Project (NY), respectively. Veal is represented by attorneys at Valorem Law Group, and Sharp is represented by Jerry Peteet.
Innocence Project: DNA Points to Serial Rapist in Wrongful Conviction of Illinois Men
Chicago Tribune: DNA evidence links man to 1991 murder, may clear 5 convicted in case
WGN/Chicago Tribune: Judge refuses to free 3 in DNA murder case
Click here to view our legal filing in Dixmoor