Two Chicagoans Wrongfully Imprisoned 23 Years Should Be Released
Two men who have sat in prison for 23 years for a crime they never committed are looking to get released as soon as the State’s Attorney’s office gives the go ahead.
New DNA evidence points to another unidentified serial rapist who raped and murdered Antwinica Bridgeman in Englewood in 1994. Like many wrongfully convicted cases in this city, the two men, Nevest Coleman and Darryl Fulton, were beaten by detectives in order to confess to the crime they never committed. According to their lawyers there was no physical evidence to prove they did it.
Coleman was a 25-year-old groundskeeper at Comiskey Park and the father of a two-year-old daughter and 3-month-old son, who had never been arrested in his life. He lost both parents while sitting in prison for the crimes he was innocent of, according to a press release from his attorney.
The victim had been celebrating her 20th birthday when she disappeared, and was found weeks later in Coleman’s basement where a friend discovered her body with a piece of concrete in her mouth and a pipe in her vagina, media reports stated.
However, Coleman’s attorney Russell Ainsworth said Coleman’s basement was abandoned at the time and the police investigation revealed several people, but not Coleman, were using it for drugs and sex at the time.
Coleman and Fulton gave police confessions implicating themselves and another man in the case, who was later cleared of the charges.
Ainsworth, with the Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago Law School, filed a motion Monday to temporarily vacate Coleman’s sentence and have him released on bond pending the state’s reinvestigation of the case. It also seeks to eventually have Coleman’s conviction vacated.
“We all want as much evidence as possible to identify the real perpetrator,” Ainsworth told Chicago News, “and there is additional DNA evidence available to bring the real killer to justice. But we do not want Mr. Coleman to have to remain in prison as an innocent man while that investigation unfolds.”
Ainsworth’s motion states that the “sole evidence” against Coleman was his confession, and his background did not fit with a rapist and murderer.
Detectives in Coleman’s case have been the subject of investigation after numerous convictions have unraveled due to a pattern of false confessions in their cases. Bill Foley, the lead detective on Coleman’s case, and the detective who obtained Coleman’s confession, is the detective who obtained a false confession from Harold Richardson in the now-notorious “Englewood Four” case, the press release stated.
Detectives Kenneth Boudreau, Jack Halloran, and James O’Brien, who also investigated the case, trained under the infamous Jon Burge, and have been accused by dozens of men of coercing false confessions.
“These detectives have been the subject of dozens of complaints, including over a dozen times that they have obtained confessions from men who were either acquitted at trial or later exonerated post-conviction,” Ainsworth wrote in an email.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office told the media it is still investigating the case and that they cannot release Coleman until they receive additional information – including more DNA results – about what role Coleman played in the rape and murder for which he was convicted.
“I am hopeful that (State’s Attorney) Kim Foxx will do the right thing and release both men from their wrongful convictions at that time,” Ainsworth told Chicago News.