As reported (here) in the Chicago Tribune, Nicole Harris will be freed no later than noon on Monday from Dwight Correctional Center as a result of two court actions. She’s served seven years of a 30-year sentence after being convicted of murder in the death of her four-year-old son, Jaquari. As reported on this blog and the Chicago Tribune (here), last October a federal appeals court, ruling that Jaquari’s older brother, Dante—five at the time—should have been permitted to testify, reversed Nicole’s conviction. On Wednesday, the 7th Court of Appeals ordered Harris’s release from prison.
The Appeals Court also issued an extension to the Cook County state’s attorney on the question of whether or not to retry Harris.
In May 2005, Jaquari was found with an elastic bedsheet cord around his neck. His older brother Dante had told authorities that Jacuari, while playing Spider-Man, had wrapped the cord around his own neck. However, the trial judge did not allow Dante to testify. Prosecutors have argued that he had given conflicting reports.
The only evidence supporting Nicole’s guilt was a confession, which the Chicago Tribune reported (here) followed a 27-hour interrogation. The average police interrogation is about two hours. Harris said that the interrogation was coerced and that the death of her son was accidental.
The interrogation tactics of Cook County (IL) have been raised in numerous reversed convictions and gained national attention when CBS’s 60 Minutes dubbed Chicago the “Confession Capital of the World.” (See report here)
Harris has been represented by Alison Flaum, an attorney with Northwestern University Law’s Center on Wrongful Convictions, and the law firm of Jenner & Block. Congratulations to the Center and the dedicated pro bono lawyers from Jenner & Block.