Expungement case for Chicago brothers wrongfully convicted pushed back by judge

ByStephanie Wade and Christian Piekos WLS logo
Monday, March 13, 2023
Wrongfully convicted brothers still waiting to clear their names
Chicago brothers Sean Tyler and Reginald Henderson were in court to fight for certificates of innocence after wrongful murder conviction, but learned they will have to keep waiting

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Two Chicago brothers were in court Monday to learn if they will receive certificates of innocence two years after being exonerated for crimes they did not commit. Instead, they'll have to keep waiting.

Sean Tyler and Reginald Henderson were arrested and tortured into false confessions involving a murder. They've been out of prison for several years.

But the judge delayed their hearing Monday, saying something came up that needed further review.

"This is our life. You have no right to hold us up like this," Henderson said. "We are trying to get on. We left you at 18 and 17. Man, we're 48 and 47 years old man. It's a shame, enough is enough."

Since being released from prison, life has not been easy for Tyler and Henderson.

"They ask, how our life's been since we've been home?" Henderson said. "Everybody that accepted our collect calls are gone."

Their mother passed shortly after, as did their sister. It's 25 years lost with loved ones, having spent the better part of their lives behind bars for a crime they had nothing to do with.

In 1994, they say they were among the more than 100 men tortured into murder confessions by officers trained under former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge. The city has paid out millions in lawsuit settlements and judgments related to these crimes.

The two brothers were exonerated in 2021, but still have not received certificates of innocence.

"I don't see how one doesn't go with the other," Tyler said. "I don't see how you could be innocent, and still somehow be guilty."

"I have no idea why the state believes that Sean and Reginald are innocent enough to have their convictions vacated, but not innocent enough to have a certificate of innocence," said Karl Leonard, an attorney with The Exoneration Project who represents Tyer. "I don't know the top process that goes on there. I think it's disappointing."

"This should not be so much of a fight as it often is," said Jennifer Bonjean, Henderson's attorney.

Having suffered enough, the siblings are hoping for closure in this grueling chapter of their lives.

"Just waiting," Tyler said. "I do know that it's coming, but just waiting."

Their next court date is March 16 at 9:30 a.m.