Despite DNA, Alvarez not ready to drop case

November 21, 2011

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Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez

Four men who had their convictions thrown out last week because of DNA evidence aren't in the clear yet.

Last week Cook County Judge Paul Biebel ordered new trials for four men who had been convicted of raping and murdering a woman in 1994. At that time, the four teenagers gave confessions, but new DNA testing shows semen taken from the victim belonged to a man named Johnny Douglas who had murder and rape convictions. He had also been interviewed by police but told them he didn't know the victim.

Despite the evidence, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez hasn't ruled out retrying the four.

Stuart Chanen represents Vincent Thames, who spent 17 years in prison for the crime. "We're frustrated that they're leaving us hanging out here, but we are convinced of the innocence of our clients, the evidence of their innocence is overwhelming, and we're very confident that in the next few days the state's attorneys will finally step up and do the right thing," Chanen said.

Alvarez's office says they're reviewing the judge's decision and don't have further comment.