April 4th, 2012
The Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University Law School has called on Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez to vacate the conviction of Daniel Taylor. When Taylor was 17, he and seven others were charged with the 1992 shooting deaths of Sharon Haugabook and Jeffrey Lassiter. Taylor received a life sentence.
Police questioned Taylor about two weeks after the murders and after Taylor gave police a statement and confessed, he remembered that he was in Chicago police lockup at the time of the crime. According to Professor Brandon Garrett’s book, “Convicting the Innocent” in the first 250 DNA exonerations in the United States, 16% of the cases included false confessions. Juveniles are also more likely to confess to a crime they did not commit than adults.
The Chicago Tribune investigated the case in 2001 and found that documents that supported Taylor’s alibi were never turned over to his trial attorney. New documents include “handwritten notes of interviews of the officers working at the station the night Taylor was arrested,” according to the Tribune. Taylor’s attorney argues that these documents “did not support the prosecutors’ suggestion at trial that the police lockup records were falsified or inaccurate.” These documents would have helped to prove Taylor’s innocence by solidifying his alibi and showing that he could not have committed these murders as he was in police custody at the time of the crime. In a 7th U.S.Circuit Court of Appeals order late last year granting Taylor’s request to file a second appeal in federal court, the judges wrote that the newly revealed witness and the newly discovered police reports are “strong proof that Taylor’s participation in the crime was physically impossible.”