Daniel Taylor's 20-year wrongful prison term

June 30, 2013 4:05:29 AM PDT
A Chicago man who spent 20 years in prison is freed after a new investigation reveals he had an alibi. Daniel Taylor was in police custody at the time and Saturday night he spoke out.

Taylor was 17 years old when he says police coerced him into confessing.

Taylor's exoneration is the 90th in Cook County since 1989. He is the 34th known to have been wrongfully convicted based on a unreliable confession.

Taylor's fight for freedom began with a letter from prison to the Chicago Tribune. Northwestern University's Center on Wrongful Convictions then took up his case.

Taylor returned home early this morning

"To get up and use the washroom when I want to, to make a meal when I want to, to go outside and take in the fresh air when I want to," Taylor said.

Freedom. Something most of us take for granted. Daniel Taylor never will.

The 38-year-old is home after spending 20 years in prison for a 1992 double murder in Uptown. Charges were dropped after Cook County prosecutors interviewed more witnesses and reviewed more documents. But, there is only one document that Taylor and his lawyers say should have cleared him from the beginning.

"I never thought I would need the paper work, the copy they gave you when you leave," he said.

Taylor is talking about jail records that prove he was in police custody being held on a disorderly conduct charge at the time of the double murder. Despite that, Taylor was charged with several others.

"The level of trickery that they used at the police station with a 17-year-old with a 2nd grade education was beyond me at the time," he said.

Trickery that Taylor says included being handcuffed to a wall, beaten and coerced into signing a confession.

"I think that maybe the jury couldn't get passed the fact that he confessed even though there was this evidence he was in custody the whole time," said Judy Royal, Center on Wrongful Convictions.

After being sentenced to life without parole, Taylor had given up hope. He tried taking his life in prison. TayLor decided to fight for his freedom after getting some advice from a cell mate.

"The only way to get it done is to get it started," he said.

So the fight began with legal help from Northwestern University's Center on Wrongful Convictions. Taylor's hard work and patience finally paid off after two decades behind bars.

"My thing is to move forward," he said.

Taylor says he is giving himself a three-week grace period to get used to freedom. After that, he says it's time to work on his future.

Taylor earned his GED in prison and he would like to go to college. His goal is to work with at risk youth, kids similar to him before he went to prison.


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