this Feb. 5, 1999 file photo, death row inmate Anthony
Porter left, hugs former Northwestern University
journalism professor David Protess after being
released from prison, in Chicago. Cook County State's
Attorney Anita Alvarez' office vacated murder and
voluntary manslaughter charges against Alstory Simon
who was serving a 37-year prison term for a 1982
double murder, Thursday Oct. 30, 2014. Protess'
Innocence Project helped free Porter, who had been
charged in the slayings. Alvarez was very critical of
the investigator, Paul Ciolino, and Protess' work to
free Porter that led to the confession by Simon.
A prisoner whose confession helped free a death row inmate
in a case that was instrumental to ending capital punishment
in Illinois was released Thursday after he recanted, and a
prosecutor said there was powerful evidence that the other
man was responsible.
Simon's confession gained international attention in 1999,
largely because of an investigation by a journalism
professor and a team of students from Northwestern
University that helped secure Anthony Porter's release just
days before he was to be executed. He had spent 16 years on
death row for slayings he and his supporters maintained he
did not commit.
constitutional protections against double jeopardy, there is
no legal way to retry Porter.
wearing a grey hoodie and jeans, told reporters outside
Jacksonville Correctional Center that he was angry.
not angry at the system. I'm angry at the people who did
what they did to me," he said, crying as he told
reporters that his mother had died while he was behind bars.
this Oct. 26, 2009 file photo, former Northwestern
University professor David Protess, founder of the
Medill Innocence Project, speaks in Evanston Ill.
Protess and his former students are credited with
helping to free more than 10 innocent men from prison
including death row.
convicted and sentenced to 37 years in prison. But the Cook
County State's Attorney's Office began re-examining his
conviction last year after his attorney presented evidence
that he had been threatened with the death penalty and
coerced into confessing with promises that he would get an
early release and share in the profits from book and movie
deals. And, said Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez,
he was tricked by a private investigator who stormed into
his home and showed him a videotape of a man who said he had
seen Simon pull the trigger. The man turned out to be an
the best interest of justice, we could reach no other
conclusion but that the investigation of this case has been
so deeply corroded and corrupted that we can no longer
maintain the legitimacy of this conviction," Alvarez
case helped lead former Gov. George Ryan to declare a
moratorium on executions in 2003, and he cleared death row
by commuting the death sentences of more than 150 inmates to
life in prison. Gov. Pat Quinn abolished the death penalty
not say whether she believed Simon is, in fact, innocent,
but she said there were so many problems with the case —
including what she called a coerced confession and the
deaths of a number of key figures — that it is impossible
to determine exactly what happened on the morning of Aug.
15, 1982, when two people were shot to death as they sat in
a park on Chicago's South Side.
Simon shows his emotion as he speaks to reporters
while leaving the Jacksonville Correction Center as a
free man Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014, in Jacksonville Ill.
Simon's confession helped free a death row inmate in a
case that was instrumental in the campaign to end
capital punishment in Illinois.
said there remains powerful evidence that Porter was the
gunman, including several witnesses who still maintain their
stand here today, I can't definitely tell you it was Porter
who did this or Simon who did this," she said.
said the "tactics and antics" of the investigator,
Paul Ciolino, and former Northwestern journalism professor
David Protess could have added up to criminal charges of
obstruction of justice and intimidation of a witness at the
time, but that it is now impossible to file charges because
the statute of limitations has run out.
who retired from Northwestern in 2011 amid questions about
his investigative methods, did not respond to phone calls
who like Protess has denied acting improperly, released a
statement that emphasized that Simon confessed multiple
times, including to a TV reporter and his own lawyer.
explain that," Ciolino said. Nonetheless, he added, no
one should be in prison if the state did not meet its burden
release was just the latest chapter in Porter's long history
with the justice system.
to the Chicago Sun-Times, before he was charged in the 1982
slayings, he was charged in a 1976 shooting that left one
man dead and another injured, but charges were ultimately
dismissed. After his release from prison, he had a number of
run-ins with the law, including an arrest in 2011 on a
felony theft charge and a one-year prison sentence the next
year after he pleaded guilty, according to the state's
not have a listed telephone number and could not be reached