Alstory Simon
Illinois Department of Corrections 

A prisoner who was instrumental in a case that led to the abolishment of the death penalty in Illinois was released Thursday after recanting his confession in that case.

According to the Associated Press, Alstory Simon’s confession to murder led to the release of Anthony Porter in 1999. Porter, who spent 16 years on death row for the murders of Marilyn Green and Jerry Hillard on Chicago's South Side, claimed that he was innocent.

Porter’s case was instrumental in death-row reform in the state and helped convince former Gov. George Ryan to suspend executions in 2003. Gov. Pat Quinn abolished the death penalty in Illinois in 2011.

The Cook County State Attorney’s Office began to investigate Simon’s case after he recanted. Simon said that he was coerced into making the confession and was promised early release and book and movie profits in return for his statement.

During a hearing held by the office on Thursday, at the prosecutors’ request the judge vacated the sentence and conviction against Simon. The Cook County state’s attorney, Anita Alvarez, noted at a press conference that there is still strong evidence against Porter but no legal way for him to be retried.

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Read more at the Associated Press.