A Cook County judge is throwing out the convictions of four men and ordering new trials on the basis of DNA evidence. The four men had been convicted of the rape and murder of a 30-year-old woman in 1994.
At the time, they were all teens and they gave confessions, but their attorneys say the confessions were coerced. A new DNA test was done in the last year on semen from a vaginal swab from the victim. The DNA matched a man named Johnny Douglas, who died a couple years ago. Douglas had a lengthy criminal history, including murder and sexual assault, and he was in the area where the victim's body was discovered. In fact, he was interviewed by police, but he said he didn't know the victim.
In ordering a new trial, Judge Paul Biebel also noted that four adolescents engaging in unprotected intercourse with the victim would likely have left semen.
Just two weeks ago prosecutors dropped charges against five other men convicted of a 1991 rape and murder. They too had given confessions, but again, a recent DNA match pointed to someone else.