LISTEN: The Trial

Two Illinois prison guards were tried for beating Larry Earvin to death. We try to make sense of the trial and what it says about prisons.

Motive Season 4 - Alt Crops v2
Motive Season 4 Laura Vergara / WBEZ Chicago
Motive Season 4 - Alt Crops v2
Motive Season 4 Laura Vergara / WBEZ Chicago

LISTEN: The Trial

Two Illinois prison guards were tried for beating Larry Earvin to death. We try to make sense of the trial and what it says about prisons.

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Two prison guards go on trial accused of beating prisoner Larry Earvin to death. Many guards testified in court that they witnessed Earvin being beaten, but turned the other way. Their testimony reveals a lot about the culture inside Western Illinois Correctional Center, where the events occurred.

One of the accused guards, Alex Banta, was interviewed the day after the alleged beating and his interrogation was played in court. Among those in the courtroom was Larry Earvin’s son, who says it was difficult for him to listen to guards talk about beating his father. A member of the jury says she came away from the trial feeling like they try to cover up abuse at the Illinois Department of Corrections, rather than fix it.

What happens when prison guards face accusations in court following the death of a prisoner in their care?

Exposing violence and cover ups, Season 4 of Motive investigates the hidden world of big prisons in small towns. Places where everyone knows each other and difficult truths get buried

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About the host

Shannon Heffernan is the host and a criminal justice reporter for WBEZ in Chicago. She has spent much of her career reporting on prisons. The work for this podcast began nearly four years ago when she got a call that an inmate at a prison had died under suspicious circumstances.

Motive is a production of WBEZ Chicago. Jesse Dukes (@CuriousDukes) is the producer. Marie Mendoza (@marieannmendoza) is our associate producer. Our editor is Rob Wildeboer. Our executive producer is Kevin Dawson. Tracy Brown is our Chief Content Officer. Special thanks to Alex Degman, Dave Miska, Cate Cahan, and Alexandra Salomon. Original music by Cue Shop.