Illinois Judge Throws out Murder Conviction, Shows It's Never Too Late

For more than a decade, Anthony Murray waited for a second chance. Convicted of murder in 1998 in the stabbing death of Seneca Jones, Murray was serving a 45-year sentence at Menard Correctional Center. It took a group of dedicated Illinois students to bring up new evidence in Murray's case that could finally correct the errors of the past.

Legal Council Should've Said No To Prejudicial Evidence

Students at the University of Illinois in Springfield helped review evidence in the case, assisting two attorneys also working on behalf of Mr. Murray.

"We spent a lot of time going through trial transcript and contacting witnesses," Rebecca Jo Luke, a senior legal studies major, told The State Journal-Register. "I think it was clear to everyone that there had been a miscarriage of justice."

Murray had been accused of stabbing Jones after a dice game in Centralia. He was tried and convicted. However, Murray's initial conviction was overturned because one of the jurors failed to disclose that knew the victim and had attended his funeral.

Murray's second trial also ended in a conviction, and this time it stuck — at least for a while. The team of students and attorneys found that Murray's lawyer at his second trial made a grave error by calling Georgetta Anderson as a witness, knowing that Anderson's testimony would implicate Murray in the murder.

In an August 2012 ruling, Associate Judge Marc Kelly vacated the murder conviction against Anthony Murray, citing that Murray received ineffective legal representation at his second trial. According to the judge, the decision made by Murray's lawyer to call Georgetta Anderson was so prejudicial to Murray that the outcome of the trial likely would have been different had she not been called to testify by the defense.

With the conviction overturned, Murray will now have the opportunity for a retrial. This time, perhaps the system can finally get it right.

New Evidence, Trial Errors May Justify Conviction Reversal

According to the National Registry of Exonerations, a joint project of the University of Michigan Law School and Northwestern University School of Law, there have been 101 exonerations in Illinois since 1989. In Cook County alone, 78 previously convicted individuals were exonerated.

A trial is an involved, detailed-orientated process. Mistakes can and do happen — and if a mistake resulted in a guilty verdict, you have the right to appeal.

Many individuals previously convicted of crimes have benefited from the advent of advanced DNA testing that calls their convictions into question. Although DNA evidence has certainly taken center stage in a number of cases, any new evidence that substantially casts doubt on a guilty verdict can be reason enough to challenge a conviction, including evidence of ineffective legal counsel like the kind used to get Anthony Murray a new trial.

Learn More From An Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been convicted of a crime, especially a serious crime like murder, you need to build a strong legal case that carefully scrutinizes every aspect of your trial. Get in touch with an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney to learn more about your legal options for challenging a criminal conviction.