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‘How Do You Change That?’: Chicago Teen Spent 28 Years In Prison After Cops Said He Had to Confess to Murder Or His Brother Would Take the Rap and End Up on Death Row

Cook County prosecutors are dropping all charges against a man who has spent almost two-thirds of his life in prison for a double murder he has maintained he did not commit.

The Exoneration Project was victorious in proving to the courts that detectives coerced the man into confessing to the crime of killing his two neighbors — the one item leading to a conviction of the then-teenager.

During a March 29, 2022 hearing, presided over by Judge Carol Howard, prosecutors said they would be dropping charges against David Wright after an appeals court threw out his 1994 confession. At 17, Wright had admitted to murdering Tyrone Rockett and Robert Smith while under duress, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Chicago Teen Spends @8 Years In Prison
David Wright confessed to a crime he maintained he did not commit and spent more than 28 years in prison. (Photos: ABC7 Chicago/YouTube screenshot)

Wright was arrested on Aug. 23, 1994, for the crimes. Six months after his neighbors’ deaths, Chicago detectives approached the teen and told them he was pinned as one of the suspects in the fatal shootings.

Despite not having any physical or forensic evidence or any witnesses to place him at the crime, they brought him in for questioning, Wright’s lawyer David Owens from the Exoneration Project shared.

He said his client signed a confession after being interrogated and abused for 14 to 15 hours straight. The police also reportedly lied to Wright, telling him his brother was a suspect and that he would be placed on death row because he was an adult if he did not admit to the murders.

Last year, the Exoneration Project produced records that showed at least 25 overturned or dropped convictions connected to these same detectives and argued, like in the case of Wright, they used illegal policing tactics or engaged in misconduct to convict innocent people.

At least 10 people who were forced to confess were acquitted at trial, and at least eight people had their charges dropped before going to trial, despite the officers having these false confessions.

Detectives James Cassidy, Kenneth Boudreau and John Halloran “have a well-documented pattern and practice of generating false confessions out of the innocent,” conduct that Wright’s lawyers allege can be seen in more than 40 cases.

One person named Arnold Day was granted a certificate of innocence for his 1994 conviction in a murder and armed robbery case in 2019.

According to the Chicago Tribune, which ran an exposé on Boudreau in 2001, Boudreau watched another detective choke and threatened the suspect. This other detective told Day he would throw him out the window while trying to get him to confess.

Details of the exchange were first published by the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission.

Day wound up spending 26 years in prison before his 2018 release when special prosecutors dropped charges against him after the officers’ misconduct was brought to light.

There also are reports concerning Boudreau and another teen named Anthony Jakes. Reportedly, Boudreau and another detective beat the 15-year-old up and also threatened to throw him out of a window during a 16-hour interrogation for an armed robbery and killing in 1991, conducted without a parent or a guardian.

As a result, he was sentenced to 40 years in prison and paroled in 2017.

The three detectives connected to these cases are now retired from the Chicago Police Department. Boudreau continues to deny any wrongdoing during his time in law enforcement.

In September 2022, Wright was released from prison after 28 and one-half years behind bars.

Next up for Wright and his legal team is to file a petition for a certificate of innocence. Once the certificate of innocence is received, he becomes eligible to sue the city for damages.

In the interim, Wright is trying to reclaim his life.

“I’m gonna try and get my life back,” Wright said, saying he wants to complete studies to obtain a GED. While serving time, he was denied entrance into any educational programs that would help toward getting a GED.

Wright also said he will dedicate time to fight for others wrongfully convicted, CBS News reported, even as he reconciles the shadow cast on him for so many years.

“It feels good, but at the same time, it’s questionable. For the last 30 years, you’ve done implemented in two families’ minds that I did something that I didn’t. So how do you change that now?” Wright said. “Their families are going to walk around for the rest of their lives, thinking I killed their loved ones. How do you change that?”

The family of one of the victims is dealing with that very question.

Smith’s mother, Deborra Morgan, said she believed there was “overwhelming evidence” that proved “he was guilty.”

“There’s no winners for any of the families involved,” said Sabrina Morgan, Smith’s sister.

Morgan was only 13 when her brother was killed, and now she wonders where the justice for her brother and the other man is.

“There’s no case gonna be opened. There’s no one who’s going to trace it back. So, if it wasn’t him, who was it? We don’t have any answers,” she asked.

“Where is the justice for my brother, her son? Where is the justice for Tyrone’s family?” Sabrina Morgan asked. “Where is it?”

What people are saying

2 thoughts on “‘How Do You Change That?’: Chicago Teen Spent 28 Years In Prison After Cops Said He Had to Confess to Murder Or His Brother Would Take the Rap and End Up on Death Row

  1. Chicqua Robertson says:

    The cops should be held accountable for their actions…they committed a crime and should be punished

  2. Moejj says:

    Chicago cops. Back in 1990, I had a girlfriend who had her face smashed into the hood of a car, after being punched repeatedly by the cop during a traffic stop.

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