Did top Alvarez deputy take a bad confession?

November 25, 2011

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Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez isn't saying whether her office will retry a 1994 case that was recently thrown out because of new DNA evidence. The decision may be complicated by the fact that one of her top deputies took a confession in the case that now looks like it might be a false confession.

Judge Paul Biebel recently threw out the convictions of four men who confessed to the rape and murder. A semen sample taken from the victim's body recently revealed the DNA of Johnny Douglas, who had murder and sexual assault convictions. He was also in the area in 1994 where the body was found and was interviewed by police.  He said he didn't know the victim.

There was no DNA from any of the boys who as teenagers confessed to the crime.  One of the confessions was taken by Fabio Valentini, who is now the chief of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau.

If Alvarez retries the cases, she has to overcome pretty convincing evidence that Douglas was the real killer. If she doesn't retry the cases, it raises questions about whether Valentini took a bad confession. Alvarez did not return our calls for comment.