Illinois prosecutors plan to drop the double murder case against Gordon “Randy” Steidl, who spent 12 years on death row and another five years under a life sentence for the killings. Steidl, who is expected to be released from prison tomorrow, would become the 18th person in Illinois to be exonerated after being sentenced to death, reports the Chicago Tribune.
The decision does not affect Steidl’s co-defendant, Herbert Whitlock, who was convicted on the same evidence as Steidl and is serving a life sentence. Whitlock has long maintained he is innocent. Steidl, 52, and Whitlock, 58, were convicted of the 1986 murders of newlyweds Dyke and Karen Rhoads, who were stabbed dozens of times and had their home in Paris, Ill., set on fire in what the police said was an attempt to destroy evidence.
The Illinois State Police says that local police botched the investigation so badly that it led to the convictions of innocent men. No physical evidence has ever linked Steidl and Whitlock to the murders. The main witnesses against them, both of whom went to police long after the crime, recanted testimony they gave during the trial.