On his last day in office today, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn commuted the 50-year sentence imposed on Tyrone Hood for a 1993 murder that evidence shows he did not commit.
Tyrone Hood, 51, was convicted in the shooting death of Marshall Morgan Jr., an Illinois Institute of Technology basketball star. Mr. Hood has maintained his innocence and insisted that police should have investigated the victim’s father, Marshall Morgan Sr., who had been convicted of manslaughter in the 1977 shooting death of a friend who owed him money.
Police questioned Morgan Sr. in the death of his son because he was struggling financially and had taken out a life insurance policy on his son in the months before the young man’s death. He was a suspect in the killing of his fiancée two year later; he had also taken out a life insurance policy on her. He was never charged in either death, but he was later convicted in the 2001 shooting death of his girlfriend and sentenced to 75 years in prison.
Tyrone Hood, a father of three, never confessed, witnesses against him have recanted, and the detectives involved in the case had a history of bad arrests. He was a complete stranger to Morgan Jr. but happened to live near Corliss High School, where Morgan Sr. was a janitor. Mr. Hood’s attorneys said the real perpetrator grabbed random trash from the area around the high school and dumped it in the car where the body was found. Mr. Hood’s fingerprints reportedly were found on beer bottles in the victim’s car, along with other trash from strangers and a beer can with another man’s fingerprint on it.
The Chicago Tribune questioned Cook County prosecutors about Mr. Hood’s case in 2012. Prosecutors then announced that the case would be among the first examined by their new Conviction Integrity Unit. A 2014 article in the New Yorker detailed evidence showing Mr. Hood’s innocence, but prosecutors have not yet moved to set aside his conviction.
EJI, along with We Are Here partner Alicia Keys and many others, jointly asked the governor to commute Mr. Hood’s sentence. Mr. Hood was not scheduled for parole until 2030, but today’s commutation of his sentence to time served will result in his release. “It’s a huge victory from the sense that Tyrone will have his freedom back,” said Gayle Horn, Mr. Hood’s attorney. “But we still want to clear his name because he is innocent.”