Freed man: City rigged my case

Suit claims murder evidence made-up.

By: Steve Mills, Chicago Tribune: February 4th, 2014

A man who spent two decades in prison for a double murder even though he was in custody when the slayings occurred files a federal lawsuit Monday alleging that Chicago police coerced a confession from him and then manufactured evidence once they learned he could not have committed the murders.  

Daniel Taylor, who was exonerated and released from prison last June, sued the City of Chicago and eight police detectives and officers for their role in his arrest and conviction.

Taylor, then 17, was among eight young men arrested for the 1992 murders of Jeffrey Lassiter and Sharon Haugabook. All eight confessed and implicated each other in their confessions.

After Taylor confessed, he told police he believed he had been in the lockup at the old Town Hall police station at Addison and Halsted streets at the time of the slayings. Police records, in fact, showed he had been arrested about two hours before the two were killed and released on bond more than an hour after the murders. Still, he was convicted of the murders and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

A Tribune investigation in 2001 uncovered evidence that supported Taylor’s innocence claim and raised significant questions about how police put together their case against Taylor.

In his lawsuit, Taylor alleges that detectives obtained his confession by beating him and promising to release him. Once they learned he had been in custody, according to the lawsuit, they set about manufacturing evidence to undermine Taylor’s claim that he was in custody.

As part of the alleged coverup, officers filed a report saying that they saw Taylor on the street around the time of the slayings. They also failed to tell his attorney that they had corroborated his alibi when they interviewed another man in the lockup who remembered Taylor being there, the lawsuit alleges.

“I want to achieve some kind of justice for being wrongfully convicted and get my life back on track,” Taylor, 38, who works at Northwestern University, said Monday.

Gayle Horn, one of the Taylor’s attorneys in the lawsuit, said the conduct by the officers was “mind-boggling.”

“Daniel Taylor had the most airtight alibi you can imagine … That is why the misconduct in this is so egregious,” Horn said.

Roderick Drew, spokesman for the city’s Law Department, said he could not comment because city lawyers had not seen the lawsuit.

Since Taylor’s release, one of his co-defendants, Deon Patrick, was exonerated and set free last month. Two others, Lewis Gardner and Paul Phillips, who were convicted and completed their sentences, recently filed a petition in Cook County Circuit Court asking that their convictions be set aside.

The last of the men in prison, Dennis Mixon, has admitted to his involvement in the double murder and insisted Taylor and his co-defendants were innocent.

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