Charges dropped against Chicago man in 1994 double murder after he served 28 years in prison

Leah Hope Image
Wednesday, March 29, 2023
Chicago man exonerated after serving 28 years in prison
David Wright, who went to prison when he was just 17, was exonerated in a 1994 Englewood double murder Wednesday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A man who went to prison when he was just 17 and spent more than half his life behind bars finally got the news he had been waiting for.

David Wright says Chicago police officers framed him for a double murder. On Wednesday in court, a judge dropped those charges.

Twenty-nine years ago, almost to the day, two young men were killed in Englewood neighborhood. It was a cold case for months until Chicago police picked up a then 17-year-old for the murders who would be sentenced to life.

That 17-year-old is now 46. And after serving 28 years in prison, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office dropped the charges against him.

"It feels good, but at the same time it's questionable," Wright said. "For the last 30 years... It's on two family's minds that I did something that I didn't. So how do you change that now? You're not going to change the bell that you rung."

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The charges were dropped as the officers involved in Wright's arrest allegedly coerced the teenager into a confession, although the officers have never been charged.

"As a 17-year-old kid, bring him to the police station and interrogate him for 14.5-14 hours," said David B. Owens, Wright's attorney. "At the end of the day, he signed a confession, we are done. And then he is criminally prosecuted and had a mandatory life sentence as a juvenile."

"Chicago has known this for the last two decades," Wright said. "What's taken so long?"

Also in court were the family of one of the victims from the 1994 double murder case.

"If it wasn't him, then who was it?" said Sabrina Morgan, the sister of Robert Smith. "And we don't have any answers. Where is the justice?"

Tyronne Rocket was 16 years old when he was killed. Robert Smith was 26 years old. His sister was just 13 when it happened.

"You've taken two people off this earth who were loved and now we don't have an answer," Morgan said.

Wright will now pursue a certification of innocence. As for the murders, they are back to being an unsolved Chicago cold case.