1982 murder case reopened 14 years after death row inmate freed - FOX 32 News Chicago

1982 murder case reopened 14 years after death row inmate freed

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

One of the nation's most famous wrongful conviction cases is getting another look from Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez.

Anthony Porter's 17 years on death row led to a ban on the death penalty in Illinois and a guilty plea from another man, but was justice done?

It's been 14 years since Porter was set free. He came within 50 hours of being executed for a double murder.

The pictures said it all. Anthony Porter and Professor David Protess celebrated Porter's release from prison. He'd been cleared of a 1982 double murder, thanks to the work of Protess, his Northwestern students, and Private Investigator Paul Ciolino. Their clinching piece of evidence? A video confession from Alstory Simon, a Milwaukee man who admitted to the shootings. It was Ciolino who obtained the video confession.

"Listen. I've taken literally hundreds of confessions. That was one of the easiest I've ever done. There wasn't any pressure. Watch the videotape confession. It is like we're having coffee and he's restating something that happened many years ago," Ciolino says.

Simon later pleaded guilty and was given a 37 year sentence. He's scheduled for parole in four years, but his attorney, Terry Ekl, recently sent a letter to State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, asking her to review the case, saying "Alstory's confession was illegally coerced by fabricated evidence, threats of the death penalty, and promises of riches." Ekl declined to discuss his claims, but Ciolino insists Simon is the real killer.

"Alstory Simon is a career criminal/killer," Ciolino adds. "He knows the game inside out. He knew it that day. He was trying to make the best of a bad situation."

Chicago police officer Marty Preib has been working for five years on a book about the Anthony Porter saga. He's concluded that prosecutors had it right the first time, when they put Porter on death row.

"There's no doubt they had the case right the first time. Anthony Porter is without question guilty of these two murders, and Alstory Simon is wrongfully convicted," Preib told FOX 32 in an interview. "Its' right there in the public record."

A spokesperson for State's Attorney Alvarez told FOX 32 that she's re-examining the Simon case because his attorneys raise a series of questions about the integrity of his conviction.

We were unable to reach David Protess, but he reportedly is willing to cooperate with any further investigation.

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