Illinois' Exonerated Death Row Prisoners

The 13 men freed from Death Row since 1977 have been exonerated for various reasons, including new DNA evidence and recanted testimony by prosecution witnesses. In five cases -- marked by an asterisk -- jailhouse-informant testimony was used to convict or condemn the defendant. 
 

  • Perry Cobb: Acquitted by a judge at his fifth trial. 

  • Initially convicted: 1979  Freed/exonerated: 1987. 
     
  • Darby Tillis: Cobb's co-defendant, he also was acquitted at his fifth trial.

  • Initially convicted: 1979  Freed/exonerated: 1987. 
     
  • *Joseph Burrows: Freed after two prosecution witnesses recanted their testimony.

  • Initially convicted: 1989  Freed/exonerated: 1994.
     
  • *Rolando Cruz: Acquitted by a judge at his third trial after a sheriff's lieutenant recanted his testimony. 

  • Initially convicted: 1985  Freed/exonerated: 1995.
     
  • Alejandro Hernandez: Cruz's co-defendant, he had charges dropped after Cruz's acquittal. 

  • Initially convicted: 1985  Freed/exonerated: 1995.
     
  • Verneal Jimerson: A Ford Heights 4 member, he was freed after DNA evidence exonerated him.

  • Initially convicted: 1985  Freed/exonerated: 1996
     
  • *Dennis Williams: A Ford Heights 4 member, he was freed after DNA evidence exonerated him.

  • Initially convicted: 1978  Freed/exonerated: 1996
     
  • *Gary Gauger: Charges were dropped by prosecutors. Others have since been implicated. 

  • Initially convicted: 1993  Freed/exonerated: 1996
     
  • Carl Lawson: Acquitted at his third trial by a jury.

  • Initially convicted: 1990  Freed/exonerated: 1996
     
  • Anthony Porter: Released after another man confessed to the murders.

  • Initially convicted: 1983  Freed/exonerated: 1999
     
  • Steven Smith: Illinois Supreme Court vacated his conviction for insufficient evidence. 

  • Initially convicted: 1986  Freed/exonerated: 1999
     
  • Ronald Jones: Charges dropped after he was exonerated by DNA evidence. 

  • Initially convicted: 1989  Freed/exonerated: 1999
     
  • *Steve Manning: Charges dropped after Illinois Supreme Court ruled that improper evidence was used to convict him.

  • Initially convicted: 1993  Freed/exonerated: 2000

     
     
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