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4 Illinois Men Cleared by DNA Are Pardoned

The 1986 homicide raised allegations of coerced confessions and botched evidence even before tests on evidence from victim's body, car.

October 18, 2002|From Associated Press

CHICAGO — Four men who spent years in prison before DNA evidence exonerated them in the rape and murder of a Rush University medical student have been pardoned by Illinois Gov. George Ryan.

"It was very clear to him by looking at the totality of the circumstances that there was a terrible injustice that occurred," Ryan spokesman Dennis Culloton said Thursday.

The four -- Marcellius Bradford, Omar Saunders and cousins Calvin Ollins and Larry Ollins -- were convicted in the 1986 death of medical student Lori Roscetti in Chicago. Calvin Ollins was 14 at the time, an eighth-grade special education student who could barely read.

The case raised allegations of coerced confessions and botched evidence even before DNA evidence from Roscetti's body and car led to the release of Saunders and the Ollins cousins in December. The three had faced life in prison.

Bradford already had been released after pleading guilty in exchange for a 12-year sentence. He says his confession was coerced.

Prosecutors say the new evidence linked two other men, Eddie Harris and Duane Roach, to the crime.

Culloton said the pardons may help secure state funding for a lawsuit against police, the county and crime lab workers.

Calvin Ollins, who also confessed, says he did so because police promised to let him go in return. Chicago police have denied the allegations.

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