Why Chicago Paid $9 Million In Wrongful Conviction Case


Chicago police detectives and top officials of a crime lab refused to seek DNA testing in a 1993 rape case, despite a lab analyst’s belief that the man might be innocent, reports the Chicago Tribune. LaFonso Rollins was convicted and spent 11 years in prison before he was exonerated in 2004. In February the city agreed to pay him $9 million in damages. The Tribune obtained transcripts of sworn testimony by Joel Schultze, the crime-lab analyst, in two unrelated criminal cases in Michigan in which defense lawyers were questioning his past work. Schultze described how he urged detectives and high-ranking crime-lab officials Pamela Fish and Marian Caporusso to send the evidence to the FBI for a DNA test because he strongly suspected Rollins was innocent. Schultze said his request was refused because police said Rollins confessed.

In 1997, four years after Rollins had been convicted and sentenced to 75 years in prison, Schultze took a job as a DNA analyst with the Michigan State Police crime lab. On his last day in Chicago, Schultze met with Caporusso and told her that he was still haunted by the possibility that Rollins was innocent. Caporusso, Schultze testified, told him, “Don’t worry about it” and added “Have fun with starting your career in DNA up in Michigan.”

Link: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-0608250228aug25,1,409036.story?coll=chi-news-hed

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