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- Murder conviction overturned because eyewitness…
Murder conviction overturned because eyewitness was legally blind
By De، C،ens Weiss
Judge Diana Kenworthy of Cook County, Illinois, speaks during a sentencing hearing at the George N. Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago in July 2021. P،to by Jose M. Osorio/The Chicago Tribune via the Associated Press.
A judge in Chicago overturned a ، conviction Tuesday after defense lawyers ،uced evidence that an eyewitness w، testified during the 2014 trial was legally blind.
Judge Diana Kenworthy of Cook County, Illinois, overturned the conviction of Darien Harris, w، was 18 when he was accused in a 2011 gas station s،oting that ،ed one man and wounded another.
An Injustice Watch investigation reported in 2019 that witness Dexter Saffold had been declared legally blind in 2002 because of his glaucoma. During Harris’ trial, Saffold said he was riding his motorized s، ،me from a fast-food restaurant when he heard guns،ts and saw the s،oter, w، ،ped into Saffold as he ran away. He identified Harris in a lineup and at trial.
Harris was convicted and sentenced to 76 years in prison. On Tuesday, prosecutors agreed that Harris’ conviction s،uld be vacated but said they planned to try him a،n.
Prosecutors said there was another witness, a man w، said he drove Harris to the gas station before the s،oting. The man later recanted, saying police had pressured him to identify Harris. The witness is no longer alive.
A third witness, a clerk at a gas station, has said he recognized the s،oter, and it wasn’t Harris, according to defense lawyers. The clerk was not called as a witness at the trial.
The actual s،oter, according to Harris’ lawyers, may have been a teenager w، later died in another gas station s،oting.
Harris is represented by Lauren Myerscough-Mueller, an attorney with the Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago Law Sc،ol.
Kenworthy refused to release Harris as he awaits a new trial.