Chicago man exonerated after 22 years in prison


Chicago (AFP)

A Chicago judge on Monday declared innocent a man who spent 22 years in prison for murder, and vacated his conviction, as part of an official review of past cases possibly tainted by police misconduct.

Anthony Jakes, convicted of murder when he was 15, was the latest to be exonerated in America's third largest city.

Jakes had been sentenced to prison for 40 years for a 1991 murder, but released in 2013 after serving about half of that term.

He claimed a now-retired police detective beat and coerced him into confessing.

A judge on Monday officially declared Jakes innocent and cleared his name.

"I wish my grandmother and my mother were here to celebrate this with me, because they were my biggest, biggest supporters," Jakes told reporters outside the courtroom.

Jakes's case was the latest in a host of overturned convictions and exonerations in the US.

Charges against 139 people were thrown out last year, according to the National Registry of Exonerations.

In Chicago, the cases of two other men were also under scrutiny Monday.

Robert Buoto's conviction for a 1993 murder was vacated, but prosecutors vowed to retry his case. Buoto claims police manufactured evidence against him.

At the same time, Thomas Sierra sued the city claiming police had framed him for a murder he did not commit in the mid-1990s.

Sierra was 19 years old when he was first jailed, and served 22 years in prison before charges were dropped in January.

In February, four other men sued Chicago law enforcement after charges against them also were dropped.

And in November, a Chicago judge exonerated 15 men at once, in the first mass exoneration for the city.