CHICAGO (WLS) -- Two weeks after walking out of prison on parole, 42-year-old Thomas Kelly is now, officially, a free man.
His murder conviction, along with that of his still-incarcerated co-defendant Jose Tinajero, was thrown out today.
"Justice prevailed. It's been a long road for me. It's been 25 years in prison for this case I had nothing to do with," Kelly said.
Convicted of the 1998 beating death of Daniel Garcia in an alley near Whipple and Armitage, Kelly and Tinajero, along with John Martinez, whose case was thrown out nearly a year ago, allege they were coerced into making false confessions to disgraced Chicago Police Detective Reynaldo Guevara.
"I had lows in prison, obviously. That interrogation was the worst time of my whole entire life. It trumps everything. My dealings with Guevara were the lowest of the low in my life," Kelly said.
Guevara is accused of framing dozens of men and women, 40 of whom have now been exonerated, between the 1980s and the early 2000s. In court, he has refused to answer questions regarding his alleged actions. He has never been punished. The city is now facing more than a dozen lawsuits involving cases he handled.
"In case after case, we see the city of Chicago throwing millions of dollars to outside counsel to defend what are indefensible cases. And it's time for a change. It's time for the city to stop throwing its money away on lawyers and spend money to compensate victims of really egregious misconduct and really change how things are done," said Joel Flaxman, an attorney for Tinajero.
While Kelly is already free, because Tinajero has most recently been imprisoned in Kewanee, which is some 150 miles southwest of Chicago, he has been returned there so his release can be processed. That release could happen as soon as Wednesday.