Chicago man exonerated of murder charges after 11 years in prison: 'I missed out on so many years'

A Chicago man will be released from the Illinois Department of Corrections on Monday after being exonerated of murder charges.

Anthony Robinson, 31, was exonerated of murder charges at a court hearing Monday morning after 11 years of wrongful imprisonment.

Attorneys say that despite the absence of physical evidence linking him to the crime, Robinson was convicted based on the initial statement of the surviving victim to the police, implicating Robinson. 

However, during the trial, the victim recanted his statement, asserting that he did not witness the shooting and couldn't identify any defendants in the courtroom. He also said that his initial identification was coerced by the police. 

Two eyewitnesses testified that Robinson was not the perpetrator. While Robinson's two co-defendants were acquitted during the same trial, Robinson was sentenced to 55 years in prison, a verdict delivered when he was 20 years old.

The crime, captured on video, depicted the assailant chasing the victims at full speed before fleeing the scene. Medical records obtained by the Exoneration Project disclosed that Robinson had sustained gunshot wounds to his left leg and right foot months before the convicted crime, necessitating significant medical intervention, including multiple surgeries. An orthopedic surgeon concluded that it would have been physically impossible for Robinson to commit the crime, given the extensive surgery performed shortly before the incident. 

X-rays taken two weeks after the crime further illustrated the extent of damage to Robinson's leg at the time.

Upon presentation of this medical evidence, coupled with the revelation that several additional eyewitnesses failed to identify Robinson and the confession of the actual perpetrator to multiple individuals, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office moved to vacate Robinson’s conviction and dropped all charges against him.

"We are incredibly grateful to State’s Attorney Foxx and her office for righting this wrong," Exoneration Project Attorney Lauren Myerscough-Mueller said after the exoneration. "They did exactly what a prosecutor should do in this situation – they reviewed the evidence, undertook their own investigation, and independently determined that Mr. Robinson is innocent. It is a travesty that it took 11 years for the truth to come to light, but this is a good day for justice in Chicago. Mr. Robinson is thrilled to finally be vindicated and is eager to rebuild his life and make a difference in the world." 

"I missed out on so many years, so much of my life," Mr. Robinson said. "I didn’t understand the system back then and thought the truth would come out right away. I told the police I was shot when they arrested me. I thought they’d see my leg, see me limping, and know I didn’t do it. It shouldn’t have taken this long, but I am just looking forward to going home and starting fresh."

Robinson, who was arrested in 2013, will be released from the Illinois Department of Corrections and reunited with his family Monday night.