Cook County prosecutors shave time off sentences for El Rukn hitmen

November 22, 2013

WBEZ/Natalie Moore
Nathson Fields was found not guilty in his second trial, and now is trying to get a Certificate of Innocence.

In the 1980s Nathson Fields was an El Rukn gang member. He was convicted of a double murder, but it was thrown out when the judge in the case, Thomas Maloney, was convicted of taking bribes. In his retrial Fields was found not guilty.

Cook County Judge Paul Biebel granted Fields a certificate of innocence but the State’s attorney’s office under Anita Alvarez appealed that and won, leading to a second petition for a certificate of innocence.  Prosecutors are fighting that petition in court.

During a weeks-long hearing that ended Friday afternoon, two El Rukn gang members testified that Fields did indeed commit the murders. But Earl Hawkins and Derrick Kees aren’t the most credible witnesses. Each has participated in more than a dozen murders, according to attorneys and court transcripts.

Fields’ attorneys say they’ve never heard of a case of prosecutors shaving the sentences of murderers in exchange for testimony in a civil matter. Fields is suing the City of Chicago and a certificate of innocence would help that. Judge Biebel says he’ll have a decision on the request for a certificate of innocence by the end of February.