"Inmate ordered freed in landmark Illinois case," is the AP report filed by Don Babwin, via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
A prisoner whose confession helped free a death row inmate in a case that was instrumental in the campaign to end capital punishment in Illinois was released Thursday after he recanted and a prosecutor said there was powerful evidence that the other man was responsible.
Alstory Simon left the Jacksonville Correctional Center Thursday afternoon. His confession in the high-profile case had gained international attention, in large part because of an investigation of a team of journalism students from Northwestern University that helped secure the 1999 release of Anthony Porter.
Porter had spent 16 years on death row and his supporters maintained he was wrongfully convicted.
Simon was convicted and sentenced to 37 years in prison. But the Cook County State's Attorney's Office began re-examining Simon's conviction last year after he recanted his confession.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports, "In stunning reversal, Alstory Simon, convicted in double murder, released from custody." It's by Frank Main, Stefano Esposito, Rummana Hussain, and Mitch Dudek.
In a stunning reversal, a Cook County judge on Thursday ordered the immediate release of Alstory Simon for a 1982 double-homicide, a case that was a key factor in bringing an end to the death penalty in Illinois.
Simon was convicted in the double murder after another man, Anthony Porter, was originally convicted for the crime but later released in a celebrated case that purported to show the flaws in the justice system.
Simon allegedly confessed to the crime, but serious questions were later raised about whether Simon had been coerced into confessing.
"Judge Orders Alstory Simon Freed In 1982 Murder Case," is by CBS Chicago.
In another stunning reversal in a 1982 double murder, Cook County prosecutors have thrown out the conviction of 64-year-old Alstory Simon, whose videotaped confession freed Anthony Porter from death row in 1999, approximately 48 hours before Porter was to be executed.
A Cook County judge granted prosecutors’ request to order Simon’s immediate release from the Jacksonville Correctional Center on Thursday, after the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office asked to have Simon’s conviction vacated.
Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn posts, "Simon case says: Never abandon skepticism."
Advocates for Simon will no doubt be doing sack dances today and pointing the finger of blame for Simon's years of incarceration on the advocates for Porter who tracked down Simon and the journalists, including me, who accepted and heralded Simon's confession without sufficient skepticism.
Fair enough. True enough.
But advocates and journalists don't convene grand juries to weigh evidence and don't appear in front of judges to recommend sentences. Advocates and journalists didn't put Alstory Simon behind bars and fling open the doors to Anthony Porter's cell, Cook County State's Attorney Dick Devine did.
If today's decision marks the beginning of a new era of skepticism of all cases based almost entirely on confessions by all of us, so much the better.
Related posts are in the false confessions category index.