A Winnebago County judge tosses out the guilty verdict of three men convicted of killing an 8- year-old boy. Lumont Johnson, Tyjuan Anderson and Anthony Ross went to prison for killing Demarcus Hanson back in 2002. In court Tuesday, a judge ruled to accept their post conviction petition; this allows them a new trial and throws out the verdict.
In 2002, 8-year-old Hanson was killed after someone shot at his house while he slept. Johnson, Anderson and Ross were arrested for his death but have maintained their innocence. Police thought the attack was aimed at Hanson's uncle, Alex Dowthard. He helped convict the men with his testimony. But the attorneys' for Johnson, Ross and Anderson say audio tapes proved Dowthard lied, but the defense was not given the evidence in a reasonable time to use them at trial.
Tuesday, a judge agreed and their guilty verdicts were vacated.
"Right now the ball is in the state's court. They need to decide if they want to appeal, if they want to retry this or they want to do the right thing and dismiss the charges," says Steve Greenberg, attorney for Tyjuan Anderson.
"If that's what it takes to get justice for this family and this child the state's attorney's office will try this case again if that is what is necessary," says Marilyn Hite-Ross, Winnebago County Deputy State's Attorney.
The prosecution plans to file a motion to reconsider. The attorneys' want the defendants to be let out on bond. A judge will rule on all that on April 2nd.
The three men convicted of killing eight-year-old DeMarcus Hanson in 2002 have been granted a new trial.
A new trial for Anthony Ross, Tyjuan Anderson, and Lumont Johnson was requested after a former Rockford Police officer, Douglas Palmer, testified that he helped frame them for murder. However, the state says Palmer has a grudge because he resigned after allegations that he had an inappropriate relationship with an informant. The defense also claimed that evidence was not presented correctly and one of the case's original lawyers had a conflict of interest.
Investigators say Ross, Anderson, and Johnson were targeting Hanson's uncle Alex Dowthard when they opened fire on the house in which Hanson was sleeping, striking Hanson and killing him. Dowthard testified that they were the men responsible, but tapes allowed in court are said to show he lied and police forced him to blame the three men in exchange for dropped charges.
The three have been in prison since 2002 and have been trying to get their convictions overturned since 2011. Several people have testified in the post-conviction hearing that two other men responsible for Hanson's death, one of whom is in prison and the other dead.
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