The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Four Chicago Men Found Innocent of Rape and Murder

Dec 17, 2001

Three men were released from prison on December 5 after serving almost half their lives there for a rape and murder they didn’t commit. A fourth man was also found innocent, but remains in prison on a shop lifting charge. DNA testing cleared the four men, who were arrested as teenagers for the attack on medical student Lori Roscetti in 1987

Most of prosecutors’ case against the teenagers was based on two false confessions. Marcelia Bradford was held incommunicado by the police for 24 hours and beaten several times before he signed a confession implicating himself and the other three boys. He was given a 12-year sentence of which he served six years. He remains in prison for shop lifting. The other confession came from 14-year old Calvin Ollins, who is mentally retarded. He was told he would go free if he confessed and implicated the others. At the trial, prosecutors also used the false testimony of one man who later admitted he lied in order to try to get a $35,000 reward. Another man falsely testified against the four in order to avoid being framed up.

The prosecutor introduced physical evidence which had been falsified in the trial. Chicago Police Department “expert” Pamela Fish testified there was no semen on Roscetti’s coat and jogging pants. An examination a couple of weeks ago revealed 22 semen stains, none of which matched the DNA of the four men accused. Fish is known to have falsely testified in at least 10 criminal cases, and undoubtedly did the same thing in numerous other cases. She remains employed as an administrator for the state police.

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley was the state’s attorney in 1987 when this fraudulent frame up occurred. Commenting on the case after the three men were released, he said he doubted he could have done anything different with the technology in existence back then. What about the false confessions, the false testimony, the dishonest testimony of Fish? None of that is changed by the new DNA technology.

The current state’s attorney, Dick Devine, said after the men’s release that the case was a failure of the system. No, it was the system at work. It was what regularly happens as the police try to claim success in solving dramatic crimes, such as a brutal rape and murder. They pin it on some poor people, coercing confessions, obtaining false witnesses, planting false evidence, and using dishonest so-called scientific experts. The proof is that the declaration of innocence of the four young men brings to 98 the number of rape and murder convictions overturned nationwide by the use of DNA. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. What about all those falsely convicted where there was no DNA evidence to start with or–what often happens–it was thrown out?

What were the results of this case for all involved? The three men just released had the entire decade of their twenties stolen from them. Omar Saunders, one of the four, was stabbed more than 14 times in prison, and has a jagged scar on his scalp. The fraudulent criminal “expert” Fish remains on the state payroll. The top prosecutor Daley remains as mayor. The police who fabricated all the testimony remain on the job with no consideration being given to convoking a grand jury to investigate and indict them for robbing half the lives of four innocent men. This is the system at work.