Brothers exonerated for 1994 murder return to court after bid for certificates of innocence delayed
CHICAGO (CBS) — Two brothers who were acquitted of murder after spending nearly 30 years in prison will try again on Thursday to get an official certificate of innocence.
Reginald Henderson and Shawn Tyler have said they were teenagers when they were tortured into confessing to the 1994 murder of Rodney Collins by Chicago police officers overseen by former commander Jon Bridge.
Thursday morning, he will ask a Cook County judge to grant him a certificate of innocence, which would clear his record and allow him to collect restitution from the state for wrongful convictions and imprisonment.
Originally Henderson and Tyler A certificate of innocence is expected at Monday’s hearing.but her case was pushed back after the judge indicated there were some matters she wanted to explore further.
The delay threw the brothers into confusion and despair.
“I don’t see how you can be innocent and still somehow be guilty,” Tyler said. “I’m at a loss.”
“This is our life,” Henderson said. “You have no right to hold us like this. We’re trying to move on.”
In 1994, the then 17- and 18-year-old brothers were arrested and tortured by Chicago police officers under the watch of notorious CPD commander Jon Bridge, who himself was convicted in 2010 of lying about the suspects’ torture. was told. He spent more than three years in prison and died in 2018.
The brothers said they were targeted because Tyler exposed similar police misconduct in the 1991 killing of Alfredo Hernandez. Tyler witnessed the murder, and after 13-year-old Marcus Wiggins was arrested for the murder, Wiggins claimed that detectives working under Bridge tortured him into a false confession. After Tyler testified during a motion to suppress Wiggins’ confession, he and his co-defendants were either acquitted, or had their cases dismissed.
When Collins was shot and killed in 1994, the same detectives in the Hernandez case arrested Henderson and Tyler, based on false witness statements, and beat them into false confessions, leading to their convictions. Convictions were carried out, according to the National Registry of Exonerations.
Tyler was released in 2019 and his brother in 2020.
He was acquitted in 2021, after his convictions were overturned, after an appeals court allowed a hearing on whether the detectives conspired to fabricate evidence, and the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission found that Medical evidence and the troubling history of detectives substantiated their claims. .
“That’s enough,” Henderson said. “You know what I mean? It’s been 29 years since next month. Enough is enough.”
While in prison, Tyler wrote six books and designed a clothing line, highlighting the strength of his fight for innocence.
“Going to prison at 17 was not what I came out of at 42,” Tyler said. “I really have a new perspective and I have a new perspective.”
Henderson earned his college degree, but when the brothers got out of prison, their sister had died. Shortly after his arrival home, his mother also died.
“How am I?” They said. “You tell me.”
The brothers will return to court Thursday morning with their lawyers and families.
“I want to re-emphasize that no matter how she rules, it’s not a denial of a certificate of innocence,” attorney Jennifer Bonjean said. “The only question is whether we have to proceed to a hearing.”