Two Chicago Men Released After Prosecutor Admits Wrongful Convictions

09.12.13

Latherial Boyd and Carl Chatman were released from prison this week after Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez concluded they were wrongfully convicted.

Latherial Boyd, now 47, was sentenced to 82 years in prison for a homicide in 1990. The prosecutor’s Conviction Integrity Unit reopened his case after receiving a letter from Mr. Boyd and learned that evidence supporting his claim of innocence was not presented by his defense at trial.

Evidence that not a single one of the nine eyewitnesses to the homicide identified Mr. Boyd in a police lineup and that a surviving victim initially told police he did not see who shot him but then identified Mr. Boyd at trial was among the factors that led Ms. Alvarez to conclude that he should never have been charged with the crime. “It is my position that this man did not commit this crime,” she told reporters.

Mr. Boyd was an aspiring model with a promising future; he spent more than 22 years in prison before he was released on Tuesday.

Carl Chatman, a mentally ill homeless man, was convicted of a 2002 sexual assault that prosecutors now believe never happened. He was sentenced to 30 years based on the testimony of a woman who had made similar accusations against another man years before and received settlement money after a filing a civil lawsuit in that case and in the 2002 case.

Ms. Alvarez said there is compelling evidence that the woman made up her story that Mr. Chatman sexually assaulted her in a downtown Chicago courthouse. There was no physical or DNA evidence linking Mr. Chatman to the woman or any evidence that the woman was sexually assaulted at all. Because the case rested on a single witness’s testimony, the prosecutor reopened it and is now exploring whether any legal actions can be taken against the woman.

Now 58 years old, Mr. Chatman was incarcerated for 11 years before prosecutors dropped the charges.

The Conviction Integrity Unit was formed less than two years ago and, including this week’s releases, five wrongfully-convicted people have been freed since May 2012. ÔÇťAbove all else,” Ms. Alvarez said Tuesday, “our work as prosecutors is about seeking justice even if that measure of justice means that we must acknowledge failures of the past.”