Breaking: This morning Cook County (IL) prosecutors reversed themselves and set aside the murder conviction and life sentence of Deon Patrick, 42, who has served more than half his life in prison following his conviction in a double murder case. The accuracy of the convictions of Patrick and others was clouded by questionable confessions.
Patrick was one of eight persons charged with the 1992 murders of Jeffrey Lassiter and Sharon Haugabook. Five were convicted after all made confessions that cross-implicated one another.
The Chicago Tribune (here) and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern Law have confirmed this update in the long-contested case. Patrick is expected to be released this afternoon.
Co-defendant Daniel Taylor was also exonerated and released last June.
Patrick said he signed a confession after 30 hours of questioning by police, and after losing hope that anyone would believe his innocence. His confession conflicted sharply with Daniel Taylor’s confession. Taylor’s confession was problematic because he was in jail for a short time the day of the crime—including the hours in which the crime occurred.
Another imprisoned inmate, Dennis Mixon, has said that he committed the crime with others, but these did not include Taylor, Patrick, and others arrested in the case.
State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez had utilized her Conviction Integrity Unit to conduct a comprehensive review of the case and had recently determined not to drop the charges against Patrick, until reversing this decision today.
Rob Warden, Executive Director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern Law, noted that Patrick is the first Illinois exoneration of 2014, and acknowledged Patrick’s attorney, Stuart Chanen, a partner of the Valorem Law Group and a member of the Advisory Board of the Center on Wrongful Convictions.