Ronald Jones, 49, was freed after more than eight years on Illinois’ death row after prosecutors dropped all charges against him. Jones was charged with the 1985 rape and murder of Debra Smith on Chicago’s South Side (Chicago Tribune, May 18, 1999). Jones, who was convicted partially on the basis of his confession, testified at trial that the police had beaten the confession out of him. Jones was a homeless man with an IQ around 80 when he was convicted of the rape and murder. Prosecutors at his conviction described him as a “cold brutal rapist” who “should never see the light of day.” (NY Times, May 19, 1999).
Recent DNA testing revealed that Jones was not the rapist and there was no evidence of any accomplice to the murder. The Cook County state’s attorney filed a motion asking the Illinois Supreme Court to vacate Jones’s conviction in 1997. In May 1999, the state dropped all charges against Jones. He is being temporarily detained pending another matter in a different state (Associated Press, May 18, 1999).
Source: Death Penalty Information Center