State of Conviction: Illinois
Race: African American
Wrongful Conviction: Murder, Robbery
Exonerated Date: 1987
Years Served: 10
In November 1977, Perry Cobb and Darby Tillis were sentenced to death for the murders of two men during a robbery. No physical evidence linked either one to the killing. The prosecution’s case relied on the testimony of Phyllis Santini, who went to the police with a story implicating Perry and Darby. Both men professed their innocence, but police found a watch resembling that worn by one of the victims in Perry’s room. Perry claimed that he bought the watch for $10 from Phyllis’ boyfriend. In 1983, it was revealed that Phyllis framed Perry and Darby to cover for herself and her boyfriend. She also received cash in exchange for her testimony against the co-defendants. Finally, a 1987 bench trial resulted in the exoneration of Perry Cobb and Darby Tillis. They had endured a record five trials for the same charge and spent eight years on death row. Despite all the evidence against Phyllis and her boyfriend, the two have never been charged.
Source: Witness Innocence
Read more about Perry’s innocence here.