Chicago man imprisoned for 29 years walks free after murder conviction vacated

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Chicago man wrongly convicted of murder walked out of prison Thursday after a judge vacated his conviction.

Demond Weston was convicted of murder and attempted murder back in 1990 and has spent nearly three decades in prison.

He claimed that the former disgraced Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge tortured him to confess to a crime he did not commit. Burge is now deceased.

On Wednesday, a Cook County judge vacated his conviction.

Weston, who first went to prison at age 17, walked out of Dixon Correctional Center Thursday morning, and into the unbridled embrace of his sister Rhonda.

"It's unbelievable. It was a long road here and we made it. Me, my family, we're so blessed right now...it's amazing," Weston said.

His family is overjoyed.

"I am so glad because he stayed in jail too long for something he didn't do," said Rhonda Weston, Demond's sister, said after the conviction was overturned.

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"We thought it was going to be last year but this year is just as great," said Carrie Williams, a supporter of Weston. "God gave us this opportunity this Christmas, and we are so grateful to have him."

In August, Weston's legal team asked Special Prosecutor Bob Milan to re-investigate the entire case. In a statement, Milan wrote that the "investigation covered five separate shootings and included the review of thousands of pages of police reports, Grand Jury transcripts, motion transcripts, trial transcripts, evidence reports and medical reports. The Office interviewed more than two dozen witnesses and conducted multiple crime scene visits."

After that work, Milan wrote that his report concluded Weston's allegations of abuse are "unsubstantiated." Weston's legal team disagreed, however.

"We disagree on the conclusion on the torture piece, but today the key thing is he's out of prison," said Scott Schutte, Weston's attorney.

Milan's report also concluded that the evidence against Weston "does not meet the burden of beyond a reasonable doubt," which triggered Milan's request to ask the judge to vacate the conviction.

Weston's attorney, Rita Srivastava of the McDonald's Corporation, said Thursday that Weston's release is "something we've all been wishing and praying for, for so long and working so hard, and there have been twists and turns along the way."

Weston said he feels grateful to have a future, one that is free.

"This doesn't end today and this didn't begin today," he said. "There are other journeys still continuing on and they need what I just received."

Weston said he plans to pay it forward and help give hope to other people in the same situation.
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