Evan Benn, a former Northwestern University journalism student, recounts in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the suspected wrongful conviction case he helped investigate five years ago that has provoked a court controversy over the students’ reporting methods. Tony Drake told students that Anthony McKinney, who was locked up for the 1978 shotgun slaying of a security guard in suburban Chicago, wasn’t at the scene.
Students had been looking into McKinney’s case since 2003, as part of the Innocence Project at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Prof. David Protess has worked with his students to free 11 wrongfully convicted men in Illinois since 1991. Benn, who now works at the St. Louis newspaper, denies charges by prosecutors that the students were motivated by grades to uncover favorable evidence and that they bribed and threatened sources to get them to talk.