As criminal defense lawyers, we are well aware of the long history of miscarriages of justice in Illinois. However, few are as high profile as that of Alstory Simon.
Simon who is now 66, served 15 years and 8 months in an Illinois prison for a murder he didn’t commit. The high profile wrongful conviction has been made into a documentary by a Cleveland film company.
Former Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez vacated Simon’s conviction in 2014 The case he was caught up in led to the demise of the death penalty in Illinois.
The documentary film is called "A Murder in the Park," Its recent release on Netflix has given the case a higher profile.
A report on Cleveland.com noted the man convicted of the murder of 18-year-old Jerry Gollard and Marilyn Green, 19, in 1982 in a park on Chicago's South Side was Anthony Porter.
He was freed from death row many years later, following a private investigation by a Northwestern University professor, a private investigator, and the academic’s journalism students convinced a judge in 1999 that Porter was wrongfully convicted.
Porter's scheduled execution in 1998 was stayed by the Illinois Supreme Court due to concerns about his low IQ. The students then took on the case.
After the investigation, Illinois Gov. George Ryan pardoned Porter and halted executions in the state. The death penalty was abolished more than a decade later.
The team from Northwestern was convinced that Alstory Simon was the real culprit of the murders in the park. The new film documents their efforts to prove it.
Simon's ex-wife testified. She said she saw the shooting and Simon did it. Simon confessed on tape to an investigator working for the Northwestern crew. He admitted to the crimes and was sentenced to 37-1/2 years in prison.
Later the conviction started to unravel. Simon claimed his confession was coerced out of him by an armed private investigator and a defense lawyer was in cahoots with the private investigator.
In the new film, Simon's ex-wife admitted lying about his involvement. The filmmakers point to flaws in the case made by the Northwestern crew in the exoneration of Porter. They claim the team failed to talk to several witnesses or even read the police report properly.
Simon was released from jail in 2014. Judge Thomas Byrne later said Simon was innocent of the double murder he served time for but denied him a “certificate of innocence.”
Byrne said Alstory Simon played a “role” when he pleaded guilty to the double murder case that led to Porter being freed, reported the Sun-Times.
At Abdallah Law, we have a long track record of seeing the big picture. We are dedicated to fighting wrongful convictions. Read more about us here or call us at (312) 229-0008.