In early posts, I have discussed the musings of Lake County Prosecutor Mike Mermel in his efforts to explain away DNA in order to preserve arrests or convictions built solely on the basis of confessions of questionable reliability. Although Lake County prosecutors have ignored DNA results in three cases -- Juan Rivera, Bennie Starks, and Jerry Hobbs -- Mermel's public comments in the wake of DNA evidence in Hobbs's case were the most bizarre I had heard until last week. But first, in the spirit of the Olympic Games, let's lay out the bronze, silver, and gold medal winners for explaining away DNA.
Bronze Medal goes to Bob Benjamin, the former "spokesperson" for the Cook County State's Attorney's Office (CCSAO) in the case of Anthony Moody. Chicago's Englewood neighborhood was victimized by multiple serial killers and rapists in the 1990's. Women engaged in "high risk" activity (drugs and sex) were being strangled and raped at unprecedented levels. The Chicago police botched the investigations for years and obtained numerous false confessions to crimes that were later linked to a man named Andre Crawford by DNA evidence and to other men, including Earl Mack, Hubert Geralds, etc. The police coerced a confession from Moody to killing his girlfriend. When DNA evidence later found small traces of Moody's DNA in the victim but large amounts of DNA of a serial killer, the CCSAO reduced Moody's charges to aggravated battery in order to preserve a conviction.