Last week, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn granted clemency to a man who had been cleared of murder but who still faced a felony record for skipping out on bond during his trial, the Chicago Tribune reports. The man was part of a group of men known as the Dixmoor Five. The four other men were also cleared of murder.
The Dixmoor Five were a group of teenagers who were imprisoned for the 1991 rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl in Chicago’s south suburbs, but who had their convictions vacated in 2011 after DNA evidence linked another man to the crime, the report says.
The man, Robert Taylor, who was pardoned Wednesday, was released from Illinois’ Stateville Correctional Center on Nov. 3, 2011, the newspaper writes. He had skipped out on his bond during the closing days of his 1997 trial and was convicted in absentia of murder. Later, he pleaded guilty to violating his bond, a felony violation, the report says.
Although he was released from prison and was formally exonerated on the murder charge by a judge in 2012, the bond violation remained, according to the report. He applied that same year for a pardon with the Illinois Prisoner Review Board.
Joshua Tepfer, an attorney with the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth who represented Taylor, celebrated the pardon. Tepfer said it was important to remove the conviction from Taylor's record because it was the direct result of his fleeing prosecution for a crime he didn't commit.
“If there was ever a reasonable excuse for violating the law, this is it,” Tepfer said, according to the Tribune. “This is why the power [of pardon] exists, and we're extraordinarily grateful that Gov. Quinn took this action.”
Read more at the Chicago Tribune.