Payments in Infamous Wrongful Conviction Case?
It was a murder that captured the attention of the entire world.
On November 16, 1995, in Addison, Illinois, three people, including Fedell Caffey, shot 28-year-old Deborah Evans in the head. Evans was nine months pregnant and had three children.
The bullet did not kill Evans. Afterwards, Caffey and another offender hunted down Evans' daughter Samantha and stabbed her to death.
They returned to Evans. With scissors and a knife, they cut out Evans unborn male fetus while she was still alive. They gave the baby mouth to mouth and he lived.
The three offenders, including Caffey, left, bringing the infant and another of Deborah's sons with them. Realizing the son they brought with them could be a witness, they murdered him, first by trying to poison him, then by strangling him, dumping his body in an alley.
All three were convicted. Caffey was sentenced to death, but that sentenced was converted to life in prison when Governor Ryan placed a moratorium on the death penalty in response to the Anthony Porter case.
But Caffey obtained the services of a prominent wrongful conviction attorney, Richard Kling, from Kent College of Law.
Kling argued that Caffey got an unfair trial because the prosecutor, Jeff Kendall, was allegedly using drugs and that fact influenced this prosecutor's investigation.
"Caffey maintains his constitutional rights were violated by prosecutors because the prosecution withheld that a witness in the case claimed to have knowledge of drug use by at least one prosecutor and had threatened to reveal that information if she was arrested or charged with the murders."
A hearing was finally held to go over the allegations against the prosecutor.
It's doubtful, though, the wrongful conviction activists got the testimony they wanted.
The star witness for these claims, former drug dealer Greg Pruitt testified that he was making statements against the prosecutor about selling the prosecutor drugs because he was getting paid:
Q: So you gave a lot of statements on this, and the bottom
line is you have no personal knowledge as to whether or not
Jeff Kendall used or bought drugs, isn't that right?
Q: In this, this fellow named Serritella, Sergio
Serritella, asks you -- he shows you a photograph, which is
here, and he asks you if that's the person you saw buy cocaine
from your worker, and you said yes...
THE WITNESS: Yes...
THE COURT: So are you saying that when you told
Mr. Serritella that, that wasn't true?
THE WITNESS: Yes, it wasn't true.
THE COURT: It wasn't true, okay. All right, I
thought that's what you were saying, but I wanted to be sure.
THE WITNESS: I got paid for this interview.
THE COURT: You say what?
THE WITNESS: I got paid for this.
THE COURT: What did you get paid for it?
THE WITNESS: $100.
THE COURT: Okay, by Mr. Serritella?
THE WITNESS: Yes.
MR. CHIMERA: I'm sorry. I didn't get the amount.
THE COURT: He said $100.
Did he tell you to lie?
THE WITNESS: No, he didn't tell me to lie.
THE COURT: But you knew where the money was coming
THE WITNESS: Yes.
THE COURT: Mr. Freedman, did you want to ask further
MR. FREEDMAN: Yes.
BY MR. FREEDMAN:
Q Did you ask the investigator for $100?
A No. I just figured that as long as I lead them on, I get
a hundred dollars, and every time I seen him, I got a hundred
Q Was it for transportation?
A I don't know. It was just tell him what he want, I get a
Pruitt claims he was getting paid by Sergio Seritella, a private investigator who worked with now disgraced journalism professor David Protess at Northwestern's Innocence Project. Protess also has been accused of offering wealth and money through book and movie deals in exchange for false testimony.
Pruitt: As to the truth of the matter on the
whole situation is a lot of money was floating around 'cuz
Orlando Cruz was coming back. People had their heart on for
the state's attorneys. So, you know, it was a lot of, a lot
of -- you know, it was a lot of BS going on and I may -- you
know, I told certain people certain things because the money
was good, you know. I think I had trips and everything, you
know, just for telling somebody for what they wanted to hear.
THE COURT: Trips.
THE WITNESS: Seattle, Washington trip, you know,
from the lady that was on the picture --
THE COURT: From the lady that you saw on the
THE WITNESS: Right.
THE COURT: What was the Seattle, Washington trip?
THE WITNESS: I just wanted to go to Seattle,
Washington, one day. So I called up Marion Brooks, and she
got in touch with her, and I had an airplane ticket.
THE COURT: Who got in touch with who?
THE WITNESS: Marion -- I mean, Marion Brooks got in
touch with that --
THE COURT: With that lady in the picture.
THE WITNESS: Yes.
THE COURT: And you ended up going to Seattle.
THE WITNESS: And I had a ticket at the airport.
Who is this Marion Brooks Pruitt is referring to? Is it Marion Brooks, the local television reporter?
Why is Pruitt saying he was given a free trip to Seattle by a local reporter?
All this over a case in which a man was convicted of murdering a woman, then cutting a baby from her stomach.