Court reverses 1992 Lake Co. murder conviction

December 9, 2011

The court issued its long-awaited opinion Friday night in the case of Juan Rivera Junior. He was convicted in the 1992 rape and murder of 11-year-old Holly Staker and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

The Second District Illinois Appellate Court ruled the state's evidence did not establish guilt beyond a reason doubt even though Rivera confessed to the crime.

He was tried three times in the murder and rape case but DNA suggested he wasn't there and an electronic ankle bracelet showed he never left his home that night.

"You got an innocent man in prison," said his brother, Miguel Diaz. "All the evidence shoewed he was home. He didn't do this crime."

Juan was first charged back in 1992.

His wife was happy but expressed frustration over the family's many trips to court.

"He's been through this, he was prepared," said his wife, Melissa Sanders. "There's no justice in Lake County. We'll continue the fight."

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