Jury Awards $25 Million to Thaddeus “T.J.” Jimenez, Framed by Chicago Cops and Wrongfully Imprisoned for 16 Years for Murder he Didn’t Committ
A Chicago-area man who was wrongfully imprisoned for 16 years for a murder he did not commit has been awarded $25 million by a federal jury.
5 NBC Chicago reports that Thaddeus “T.J.” Jimenez sued the city of Chicago after spending 16 years behind bars for the 1993 gang-related murder of Eric Morro. Jimenez, who was 13 years old at the time, was convicted twice. But Jon Loevy, one of his attorneys, says that notoriously crooked Chicago cops framed his client.
“They strong-armed witnesses into falsely implicating [Jimenez], and when the real suspect turned up, they chose to ignore him because they had already built the case against the wrong guy,” he told 5 NBC Chicago.
Jimenez was freed from prison in 2009 after a witness recanted and Juan Carlos Torres, an Indiana man, confessed to killing Morro.
Cook County Criminal Court Judge Paul Biebel Jr. signed Jimenez’s certificate of innocence in 2010, which allows the victim to seek compensation for his wrongful imprisonment.
“Sometimes the criminal justice system makes a mistake,” Loevy told 5 NBC Chicago. “In this case, we proved that’s exactly what happened.” Loevy says he won’t criticize prosecutors because “they recognized there had been an injustice and they corrected it.”
Jimenez’s lawyers say that the $25 million award is the largest ever by a U.S. jury in a wrongful conviction case.
Roderick Drew, a spokesman for Chicago’s Department of Law, told 5 NBC Chicago that “we are very disappointed with the decision” and that “we will be exploring all available options.”
Freedom has not been particularly kind to Jimenez. Last month, he was convicted of drug possession and could face up to three years behind bars pending his February 1 sentencing.
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