Man Is Cleared of
After Serving 25
By AP from the
NYTimes on the Web, April 24, 2007
CHICAGO, April 23 -- A man who
spent 25 years in prison for rape was exonerated Monday as a judge threw out his
convictions because DNA evidence showed he could not have committed the attack.
An advocacy group said it was the 200th such case.
The man, Jerry Miller, smiled and the courtroom erupted into cheers after Judge
Diane G. Cannon of Cook County Circuit Court read the ruling that cleared him of
Mr. Miller, 48, had been found guilty of rape, robbery, aggravated kidnapping
and aggravated battery even though he testified he was at home watching
television at the time of the attack, in 1981. He was paroled in March
2006 and now works two jobs and lives with a family member in a Chicago suburb.
“I want to get on with my life, start a life, have a life,” Mr. Miller said
after the hearing. “I’m just thankful for this day.”
The Innocence Project, a group based in New York, persuaded prosecutors last
year to conduct DNA tests on a semen sample taken from the rape victim’s
clothes. Those results excluded Mr. Miller as the attacker.
The case is the 200th in the United States in which a person was convicted, then
exonerated based on DNA evidence, the group says. The first exonerations
based on DNA testing were in 1989, and in all, the 200 defendants served about
2,475 years in prison for crimes they did not commit, according to the group’s
“We look at this as a learning moment,” said Peter Neufeld, a co-founder of the
Innocence Project and one of Mr. Miller’s lawyers. “What went wrong?
We have to get the answer for the future or there’ll be too many Jerry Millers.”
Mr. Miller was arrested in the attack on a 44-year-old woman at a Chicago
parking garage in September 1981. The attacker raped her and put her in
the trunk of her car, but he ran away when two attendants approached him as he
tried to leave the garage.
The attendants helped the authorities make a sketch and later picked Mr. Miller
out of a lineup.
Now that he is exonerated, Mr. Miller no longer has to register as a sex
Mark Ertler, deputy supervisor of the Cook County state’s attorney’s office DNA
review unit, told The Chicago Tribune that the case was “a good example of what
the DNA unit was intended to do.”