Prosecutors and judges are in a squabble over whether or not two men who were convicted of murder should have their sentences vacated and be allowed to go free. The prosecutors were ready and willing to drop the charges against Wayne Antusas and Nicholas Morfin. However, a judge blocked them from doing so after prosecutors agreed that their cases were on shaky ground, and the men were likely convicted unjustly.
Kim Foxx’s State’s Attorney’s Office won reelection after campaigning on a progressive line of overturning wrongful convictions. Cook County, once known as the wrongful conviction capital of the United States, now hopes to be the beacon of the future when it comes to criminal justice.
The two men were convicted of the murders of two 13-year-old girls. Eric Anderson, the teen-aged son of a Chicago cop, was attempting to shoot at a rival gang when his bullets missed and hit the girls, leaving them both dead. Police said that Anderson acted at the behest of fellow gang members and charged several Almighty Popes with the crime. Matthew Sapron, the gang’s leader, was charged alongside Antusas, his second in command, and Morfin, who police say helped plan the attack. While Anderson was the only one who fired a shot, the prosecution successfully argued that the men worked in concert to commit a felony. Antusas and Morfin were convicted of conspiracy and felony murder.
Prosecutors Cannot Vacate Verdicts
While prosecutors are free to discuss their plans with defense counsel, prosecutors do not have the power to vacate a verdict. Only a judge can do that, which was pointed out by the judge from whom the request to vacate the verdict was made. The judge makes the decision to vacate the verdict, and then the prosecutor can decide to drop the charges.
The issue began when another defendant from the same trial, Matthew Sapron, appealed the verdict. After hearing the defense arguments concerning his innocence, they were moved to request that the judge vacate the verdict. Sapron was freed. Now, the same judge was asked to vacate the verdicts of Morfin and Antusas, and he has declined, raising concerns that he was not comfortable with his decision concerning Sapron.
Typically, when prosecutors and defense counsel make a united argument to vacate a verdict, the judge agrees, the verdict is vacated, the prosecution drops the charges, and the inmate is freed.
Since the gang members were all charged for the murder, the prosecution focused on flipping one of the accused. This individual provided testimony to the police and at trial, but the prosecution said that they did not have faith in the man’s testimony and for that reason, the verdict should be vacated.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are being accused of a serious crime in Chicago, then you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who will fight for your rights under the law. Call David Freidberg today at (312) 560-7100 to discuss your situation in more detail.