Chicago prosecutors yesterday dropped murder and rape cases against two men who spent more than 12 years behind bars, after DNA tests undermined their purported confessions as well as the dubious forensics that led to life sentences, reports the Chicago Tribune. One of the men, Dan Young Jr., was immediately released. The other, Harold Hill, was not set free because of an unrelated conviction for which he has three years to serve.
The court action came after three years of reinvestigation of a case prosecutors now say was flawed from the start. Such evidence, they said, would not be enough to bring a case to trial today. A Tribune series highlighted problems in the case against Hill and Young. In the October 2004 series, “Forensics Under the Microscope,” the Tribune focused on the unreliability of bite-mark comparisons and how experts in the field had implicated suspects who later were exonerated. Testimony from a forensic dentist linked Young to a bite mark and Hill to a bruise on the body of the victim, but several later examinations undermined his analysis and testimony. In the December 2001 series “Cops and Confessions,” the Tribune investigated how police in Cook County obtain false confessions. The case against Hill and Young was featured prominently.