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Man wrongly convicted in '91 murder out of jail

November 3, 2011 8:46:06 PM PDT
Robert Taylor walked out of the Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet a free man Thursday. Taylor spent the last 20 years serving a life sentence for a crime authorities now say he didn't commit.

"When the DNA excluded them, they should have known these confessions were no good, but obviously today is a day to rejoice," said Joshua Tepfer, Taylor's attorney.

Taylor, now 34, returned to the Harvey neighborhood where he lived before being sent to prison at age 17.

Robert Taylor Sr., who is legally blind, says he saw this day coming because he never gave up on his son's innocence.

"Joyful occasion. The sun is shining even though it's cloudy," said Taylor Sr.

"It's a hard journey. But I made it," said Taylor.

"Now he's home, I have my best friend back," said Eva Murphy, sister.

Taylor and four other teenagers were convicted in the killing of Catresa Matthews in 1991. She was 14 when she disappeared while walking home from school. Her body was found two weeks later. She had been sexually assaulted and shot.

In 2009, attorneys for the men filed a motion to test DNA from a crime scene.

Tara Thompson is the attorney for James Harden, who was 17 years old when he went to prison.

"He was stunned. You don't want to give yourself false hope in these kinds of situations. Although he knew he was innocent, he was preparing for a longer court hearing, and then today and find out you are going home after 20 years, it's a great feeling but also a real shock," said Thompson.

The attorneys for Harden and Jonathan Barr say the two men will be released Friday at 11 a.m. Two others involved were released 10 years ago after serving their sentences.


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