A man who was wrongly convicted for a murder he didn’t commit and spent 16 years behind bars for the crime was awarded $25million in damages by a Chicago court Tuesday.
Thaddeus ‘T.J.’ Jimenez, 33, was only 13 when he was charged with the gang-related murder of an older teenager.
He and his legal team were understandably thrilled about the settlement.
‘The state’s attorney’s office … recognized an injustice had occurred and they corrected it,’ his lawyer Jon Loevy said.
‘They deserve a ton of credit for reopening the case … taking an honest look at it and correcting an injustice.’
After 16 years in jail, Jimenez was released when his case was reopened due to a witness recanting his testimony.
Apparently more than one witness involved in the case was wrangled by police to make the Jimenez guilty verdict stick.
‘They strong-armed witnesses into falsely implicating [Jimenez], and when the real suspect turned up, they chose to ignore him because they had already built the case against the wrong guy,’ Mr Loevy said.
Another man- Juan Carlos Torres- was arrested for the original murder on the same day that Jimenez was released in May 2009.
Chicago legal officials, however, are not happy with the damages decision and feel that the amount- which is one of the biggest in the city’s history- is too much.
‘We are very disappointed with the decision. We will be exploring all available options,’ said spokesman for the city’s Department of Law Roderick Drew.
Though his monetary concerns may be quelled, if the decision is upheld, Jimenez still faces some legal issues. He was arrested for illegal drug possession in December and may face three years in jail if found guilty at his February 1 sentencing.