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Englewood 4 sue police and prosecutors

By Jennifer Delgado, Chicago Tribune –

CHICAGO—Four men who were wrongfully convicted of rape and murder 18 years ago filed lawsuits Thursday alleging that Chicago police and Cook County prosecutors framed them for the brutal crime.

In separate lawsuits filed in federal court, the men alleged that police detectives used threats and physical violence to coerce their confessions and that prosecutors pressured them into giving more “accurate” confessions.

The men — Terrill Swift, Harold Richardson, Michael Saunders and Vincent Thames — were teens when they were convicted of the murder and rape of 30-year-old Nina Glover. She was found strangled in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, her body wrapped in a blood-stained sheet and left in a Dumpster behind a liquor store, according to the lawsuit.

Although primitive DNA testing before trial excluded the four men as the source of semen in Glover’s body, prosecutors said the confessions connected them to the murder. Thames even pleaded guilty.

After his release from prison after 15 years, Swift sought DNA testing in the hopes it would identify the real killer.

Prosecutors initially opposed the new testing but later agreed after The Chicago Tribune wrote about their opposition.

DNA from the crime scene matched convicted murderer Johnny Douglas, who was killed in 2008. But prosecutors said Glover’s history of trading sex for drugs made it possible she had consensual sex with Douglas and that he was not her killer.

Chief Criminal Court Judge Paul Biebel, however, threw out the convictions last November. Prosecutors decided in January not to retry the men because they could not meet the burden of proof. In September the men, known as the Englewood Four, were granted certificates of innocence.

The suits alleged Douglas, who had a long criminal record, was interviewed after police discovered Glover’s body, but officers never investigated him as a suspect. It also alleged that police fabricated confessions against each of the four teens “consistent with the custom and practice of the Chicago Police Department in numerous other cases.”

A representative of the city’s Law Department could not be reached Thursday for comment, while a spokeswoman for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office declined to comment, saying she had not seen the lawsuit.

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