CHICAGO, Oct. 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Film producers on the hunt for an interesting story ended up waking a sleeping giant: The Chicago case that's widely credited with ending the death penalty in Illinois. The activity surrounding the film's investigation sparked a renewed interest in the case, which has now been re-opened.
Anthony Porter was sentenced to death in 1982 for murdering a couple in Chicago's Washington Park. He was set to be executed in 1999 when a Journalism class from Northwestern University, under Professor David Protess, set out to save his life. At first they cited Porter's low IQ, but eventually developed an alternate suspect, Alstory Simon. Simon was approached by an investigator who secured his videotaped confession. Porter was quickly released and Simon charged with the murder, for which he's serving a 37-year sentence.
Simon later alleged that the confession was coerced through threats and promises of a short sentence and money. He said he agreed to a plan that included taping the scripted confession, pleading guilty, and publicly apologizing.
"I was very skeptical," says the film's director, Shawn Rech. "I thought to myself, who wouldn't say such things to save his own skin? But we found that the investigator had a pattern of this type of intimidation, and this was not the first time a person had claimed that Protess made financial overtures."
Other troubling facts emerged. The investigator who secured the confession showed Simon a videotape of a witness implicating him who he now admits was an actor. Statements made by Simon's estranged wife and family members implicating him were all later recanted.
No physical evidence ever linked Simon to the crime. The only remaining evidence against Simon is his confession.
To many, the most troubling aspect of the case is that the investigator supplied Simon with his personal attorney who shared an office – a clear conflict of interest.
Andrew Hale, a Chicago-based attorney who's co-producing the film says, "I was troubled by the amount of evidence implicating Porter that was ignored. There were at least two witnesses who told police they saw Porter shoot the victims, another who told the police he was robbed at gunpoint by Porter right before the shooting, and another two who told the police that they saw Porter in the bleachers near the victims when the shooting took place."
Porter, a feature length documentary, is set for a February 2014 release.
About Pinpoint Media: Pinpoint Media is a television production company based in Cleveland, OH. Pinpoint has produced television programs for CBS, NBC and FOX affiliates in cities including Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago and Cleveland. The programs are now syndicated in over 30 countries. The company won nine Emmy awards in categories including Community Service, Magazine Program and Crime.
Shawn Rech, Director
Andrew Hale, Producer
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