Judge grants certificates of innocence for Chicago brothers exonerated in 1994 murder case

Tuesday, April 2, 2024
Judge grants innocence certificates for exonerated brothers
Chicago brothers Sean Tyler and Reginald Henderson could receive certificate of innocence for their wrongful murder conviction.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Judge Erica Reddick granted two brothers their certificates of innocence after they were exonerated in a 1994 murder.

They spent years in prison because of a false murder confession tied to a former disgraced CPD commander.

"I stand on the frontlines and fight for many more survivors like Sean and Reggie, who are still fighting to get the justice they deserve," said Jasmine Smith with the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression.

Back in 1994, Sean Tyler and Reginald Henderson were arrested and tortured by now-ormer Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge, and they falsely confessed to murder.

Tyler and Henderson were later exonerated, and were looking to get certificates of innocence by the county state's attorney to clear their names, but until Tuesday, they had been denied.

RELATED: Brothers tortured into confessing by former CPD commander Jon Burge still picking up pieces of lives

"What I think is especially difficult for Sean and Reggie, is having the complete their entire sentence, get released and be on parole and all of that for something they didn't do," said Karl Leonard with the Exoneration Project.

A certificate of innocence expunges the murder conviction, allowing the two men to no longer be labeled felons.

"To come this far 30 years later, its more than a blessing," Tyler said.

SEE ALSO | Man wrongfully incarcerated for 35 years seeks to increase maximum compensation for IL exonerees

Their convictions were originally tossed out in 2021.

"I just want to be able to be me, to not worry about anything no more, to live life, to get up and get up and be able just to be a father again," Henderson said.

For both men, the day was bittersweet without their mother present. She passed away before they were exonerated.

"I stand here representing my sister Evy Tyler, who waited for this for years," said Deborah Tyler Stokes, the brothers' aunt.

Meanwhile, a wrongfully convicted Roosevelt Myles is still waiting for his justice.

"We are in this struggle together. I see victory. I see my victory in them," Myles said.

Despite their struggles, Tyler and Henderson intend to enjoy their reclaimed freedom while being a voice for those unjustly convicted.

"It's not a coincidence. I should not have the same story on 55th as a man has on 95th," Tyler said.

The brothers could now receive compensation from the state for their wrongful convictions.

Their attorneys say they may file federal lawsuits, as both brothers vow to continue to fight for justice for others.