No one argues that two teens were shot and killed in bleachers above a swimming pool on Chicago’s South Side more than 30 years ago. What’s harder to say is who the shooter was late that August night in Washington Park.
That’s because two men have been separately accused, convicted and, more surprisingly, exonerated for the 1982 killings of 18-year-old Jerry Hillard and 19-year-old Marilyn Green.
Police and prosecutors first thought the couple were killed in an armed robbery by Anthony Porter, a convicted felon. Multiple witnesses allegedly saw him in the park around the time of the 1 a.m. shooting. A jury agreed and condemned Porter to death. But he was hastily freed in 1999 when another man confessed in a news broadcast to the killings.
A NEW SUSPECT
The Cook County state attorney’s office reset its sights on Alstory Simon, the man who confessed to shooting Hillard and Green in a dispute about drug money.
Simon pleaded guilty to pulling the trigger and tearfully apologized to Green’s mother, saying that he accidentally shot her daughter. Down came a 37-year sentence.
But in a remarkable twist, Simon regained his freedom on Oct. 30.
The current Cook County state attorney, Anita Alvarez, cast doubt on Simon’s confession and the original lawyer who represented him. Alvarez leveled the blame for Simon’s predicament on the Medill Innocence Project, a team of students and a journalism professor from Northwestern University with a stated mission of freeing innocent prisoners. Her office wouldn’t share copies of the review that laid out specific misdeeds by the Northwestern team, but Simon’s new attorneys said their client confessed because he’d been threatened and promised money from book and movie deals if he cooperated.