Tonight, CBS’ “60 Minutes” devoted a segment to false confessions in Chicago, focusing on two particularly egregious cases in which young men were convicted and imprisoned for rape and murder on the strength of confessions they said were coerced. The young men were later freed when DNA evidence implicated other men.
The designated obtuse law-enforcement official in the report was Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, who looked even worse in this exchange with correspondent Byron Pitts than these appalling transcript portions suggest:
Byron Pitts: (Alvarez) defends the actions of the police in these two cases.
Anita Alvarez: We have not uncovered any evidence of any misconduct by the police officers or the State’s Attorneys that took the statements in these cases.
Narration: Alvarez still believes the confession Terrill Swift gave in the Nina Glover case. Despite the fact there was no DNA evidence linking him or the others to the crime.
Byron Pitts: Did you find any of the boys’ DNA on the victim?
Anita Alvarez: No, we didn’t.
Byron Pitts: Did you find any of their DNA in the basement of the house?
Anita Alvarez: No.
Byron Pitts: How do you explain that the boys would say they raped a woman, and there not be any DNA evidence? Doesn’t that strike you as odd?
Anita Alvarez: Well, we would love to have DNA on everything. And every piece of evidence that we have, in every crime. But it doesn’t necessarily occur.
Narration: Last year, the (New York-based) Innocence Project retested the one DNA sample that was recovered inside the victim Nina Glover. It was submitted to the National DNA Database and a match was made to Johnny Douglas, a serial rapist and convicted killer, who is now deceased. But the new discovery did not change Anita Alvarez’s mind.
Byron Pitts: You find out years later that, in fact, the DNA found inside the victim’s body belonged to Johnny Douglas. And Johnny Douglas is a convicted serial rapist and murderer. That doesn’t tell you that he most likely is the person who killed this woman?
Anita Alvarez: No. It doesn’t. Is he a bad guy? Absolutely, he is. Absolutely. But, can we prove, just by someone’s bad background, that they committed this particular crime? It takes much more than that….
Narration: In the case of Robert Taylor, Jonathan Barr and James Harden, DNA found inside the 14-year-old victim Catteresa Matthews was also retested, and a match was made to Willie Randolph, a 34-year-old convicted rapist, with 39 arrests. (Innocence Project Defense attorney) Peter Neufeld says prosecutors rejected the DNA evidence and instead came up with an unusual theory to explain it all away.
Peter Neufeld: They suggest perhaps after the kids killed her this man wandered by and committed an act of necrophilia.
Byron Pitts: Necrophilia. A lot of our viewers won’t know what that means.
Peter Neufeld: Having sex with a dead person.
Anita Alvarez: It’s possible. We have seen cases like that.
Byron Pitts: Possible?
Anita Alvarez: It is. We’ve seen it in other cases.
Byron Pitts: It’s possible that this convicted rapist, wandered past an open field, and had sex with a 14-year-old girl who was dead?
Anita Alvarez: Well, there’s all kinds of possibilities out there, and what I’m saying is that I don’t know what happened.
Just days after Alvarez was embarrassed by the grand jury indictment in the Koschmann case comes this fresh evidence that she’s not up to her job. She just doesn’t know what happened? And this is the woman we expect to represent the interests of justice in Cook County?
Please click here for the article.
60 Minutes – Published on Dec 9, 2012 –
It’s hard to believe people would confess to a heinous crime they didn’t commit, but they do — especially teenagers — and there is no place in the U.S. where this has occurred more than in Chicago. Byron Pitts reports.