Jenner & Block

Firm Wins Release of One of the Wrongly Accused "Ford Heights Four"

On this day in 1996, Bob Byman and Jim Thompson secured the release of Dennis Williams, one of the “Ford Heights Four” who spent nearly two decades on death row for a rape and murder he did not commit.  The following day, police arrested the man prosecutors said should have been charged with the 1978 murders of Lawrence Lionberg and his fiancé, Carol Schmal.  As the Chicago Tribune observed, the case against Mr. Williams and the other “Four”  involved “poor lawyering, overzealous police and prosecutors, a dishonest witness and a public  uproar” over the brutal crime.  During Mr. Williams’ second trial in 1987, for instance, his lawyer at the time neglected to follow up on an investigator’s interview with a potential witness who indicated that four other men were involved in the crime. “It was a judgment call not to investigate it, but it was a bad judgment call,” Bob was quoted as saying. The case would become the subject of the book, A Promise of Justice.

 

TAGS: 1995-2004, B Byman, Exoneration, Ford Heights Four

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