In a big and long-awaited win for the Law School’s Exoneration Project, a Cook County judge on Monday dismissed the murder conviction of client Tyrone Hood, a man who served more than 21 years in prison for a crime he says he didn’t commit. Hood, 51, was released last month after his sentence was commuted by outgoing Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn.
“We are extremely grateful that the State's Attorney's Office took this important step toward clearing Tyrone Hood's name,” said Tara Thompson, ’03, a staff attorney with the Law School’s Exoneration Project and a partner at civil rights law firm Loevy & Loevy.
"It's a new day, I feel," Hood told the Chicago Tribune. "I've been born again into a new life, a good life."
Hood, who has always maintained his innocence, was convicted in 1996 of murdering a twenty-year-old sophomore at the Illinois Institute of Technology three years earlier. His case generated public outrage in the wake of several media stories that examined the circumstances surrounding his original conviction, which was based on the testimony of two witnesses who later came forward to explain that they knew nothing about the crime. Evidence suggests that their original statements were the product of police coercion, Hood’s attorneys said, and scientific experts have debunked the testimony of a third witness.
Hood is represented by former Law School Lecturer Gayle Horn, a partner at Loevy & Loevy, and Karl Leonard, ’09, of Winston & Strawn. Former clinic students Roger Lee, ’08; Marianna Chapleau, ’09; Kevin Dooley, ’10; and others have worked on Hood’s case over the years.
Although Hood’s release last month was seen as a step in the right direction, his attorneys said that today’s exoneration was the real victory.
"Everything that so many U of C law students did over the years on this case led up today, when this wrongful conviction was finally overturned," Thompson said.