Saturday, April 19, 2008
He Deserves A Break Today, Take 4: Judge Throws Out Alton Logan's Conviction After New Evidence Is Presented
I've written three times before (here, here, and here) about Alton Logan, the Illinois man who has been incarcerated for 26 years for a robbery/murder at a McDonald's restaurant despite another man, Andrew Wilson, confessing to the crime. The problem, however, was that the public defenders to whom Wilson confessed felt that they were bound by the attorney-client privilege not to disclose Wilson's confession until, as per Wilson's agreement, after his death. When Wilson recently died, the attorneys disclosed Wilson's confession, setting the stage for a legal battle over whether the confession would be admissible and whether Logan's conviction would be thrown out. That battle ended yesterday as I have claimed that it should: with Alton Logan being set free.
At a hearing at the Criminal Courts Building in Chicago, Wilson's confession was presented. Other evidence included:
-former McDonald's employee Gail Hilliard testifying that as she was about to make a milkshake for a drive-through customer on the night of the robbery-murder, she saw a shotgun-toting man enter the restaurant, whom she identified as Wilson from a photo (in 1999, Hilliard had previously identified the man as Wilson to an attorney but did not make a similar statement to police);
-Joseph Prendergast, a semi-retired teacher who tutored Wilson in prison for several months in 1982 and 1983, testified that Wilson told him at the time that he had shot a shotgun inside a McDonald's; and
-Alvin Thompson, a McDonald's security guard wounded the night of the shooting identified Logan as the gunman.
This evidence led Judge James Schreier to throw out Logan's conviction and order a new trial because this new evidence made it "a reasonable probability" that Logan would be acquitted if prosecutors try him again. The Illinois attorney general's office, which is prosecuting the case, will likely soon make the decision whether to go to trial again.