Wrongful Conviction Cases

There is no greater injustice than being accused and convicted of a crime that you did not commit. A false conviction is a disgrace that can have a far-reaching impact on the wrongfully convicted, the victims of the crime, their families and communities, and on our society as a whole.  Imprisoning an innocent person leaves the real perpetrator free to commit more crimes.

If you or a loved one has been wrongfully convicted of a crime, you have the right to  and the right to bring a civil lawsuit for damages. If you have questions that must be answered, seek the advice of an attorney who understands what you have been through and who can provide guidance on how to rectify this grave injustice.

Kathleen Zellner's 19 innocent defendants Exonerated

 

1. Ronnie Bullock

Ronnie Bullock served more than 10 years in prison for the kidnapping and rape of a 9-year-old girl and a 12-year-old girl. Zellner's firm obtained DNA testing that revealed he was innocent of these crimes.

2. Joseph Burrows

Joseph Burrows spent nearly five years on death row until Zellner persuaded the real killer to confess at the post-conviction hearing. Burrows was released from the court house after the hearing by the trial judge. 

3. Billy Wardell

Billy Wardell served more than ten years in prison for robbery and sexual assault. He was exonerated in 1997 when Zellner obtained DNA testing that cleared him as the perpetrator. 

4. Len Puccini

On September 5, 2015, Mr. Puccini's conviction for aggravated criminal sexual abuse was reversed and he was released from prison shortly thereafter. 

5-8. Omar Saunders, Marcellius Bradford, Larry Ollins & Calvin Ollins

Omar Saunders, Marcellius Bradford, Larry Ollins and Calvin Ollins were convicted of the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Lori Roscetti, a 23-year-old medical student. Bradford served six years in prison following a plea deal, but Saunders and the Ollins cousins had served nearly 15 years in prison before DNA was conducted and it cleared all four men of the crimes. 

9. Kevin Fox

Kevin Fox was imprisoned for eight months for the murder of his daughter, Riley Fox. Zellner obtained DNA testing, which cleared him.  Zellner's firm filed a civil rights case while Fox was still incarcerated.  Fox won a $15.5 million verdict against the defendant sheriff's deputies who framed him.  The award was reduced to $8.1 million on appeal.

10-11. Harold Hill and Dan Young

Harold Hill and Dan Young were convicted of the 1990 rape and murder of Kathy Morgan. Zellner obtained DNA testing in 2004 which exonerated them and led to the release of both Hill and Young after serving 15 years. Zellner filed a civil rights suit for Young and the case settled after he was killed in a hit-and-run accident. 

12. Alprentiss Nash

Alprentiss Nash served more than 17 years in prison for the murder of Leon Stroud. In 2010, Zellner convinced the Illinois Court of Appeals to order DNA testing of the ski mask worn by the perpetrator. This testing led to Nash's exoneration in 2012. Zellner filed his federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Chicago on behalf of Nash. Tragically, Nash was murdered on July 28, 2015 in Chicago, IL. His civil right case continues. 

13. Cesar Munoz

Cesar Munoz was convicted of the 1997 murder of his girlfriend, Magdaliz Rosario. Zellner and her firm represented Munoz and won his acquittal in June 2013 after his fourth trial but Zellner's first trial. (The first trial resulted in a hung jury, and the second two resulted in convictions but were reversed on appeal). 

14. Lathierial Boyd

Lathierial Boyd served twenty-three years in prison for the murder of Michael Fleming and the attempted murder of Ricky Warner. Boyd successfully persuaded the Cook County Conviction Integrity Unit to re-examine his case.  Boyd hired Zellner and she assisted the Cook County State's Attorney's Office in the re-investigation. Evidence was uncovered of fabricated testimony by the State's key witness. Boyd's conviction was vacated in 2013. Zellner filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city of Chicago and several police officers in federal court. 

15. Ryan Ferguson

Ryan Ferguson was arrested in 2004 for the 2001 murder of Columbia Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt. He was convicted and sentenced to prison. He was released in November 2013 after Zellner and her firm convinced the only two witnesses against Ferguson, Charles Erickson and Jerry Trumo, to admit that they had lied at trial. Zellner's firm filed a civil rights lawsuit against certain police officers involved in the arrest and prosecution of Ferguson. The lawsuit was set for trial in 2015 but the defendants filed an interlocutory appeal, which is pending, after they lost the motion for summary judgment. 

16. James Edwards

James Edwards was convicted of two murders as the result of a false confession. He was exonerated for the murder of Fred Reckling after Zellner's firm filed a motion for DNA testing. The results cleared Edwards as the murderer in the Reckling case, and the real murderer was arrested. Edwards' second murder conviction in Ohio is being challenged on the basis of the same false confession given in Reckling's murder and fabricated forensic evidence. 

17. Mario casciaro 

Mario Casciaro was released in September 2015 after serving four years for the murder of a teenager. The Illinois Second District Appellate Court reversed Casciaro's conviction for intimidation murder. Zellner's appeal argued that the state had failed to prove the elements of intimidation and that none of the forensic evidence matched the state's theory as presented to the jury in Casciaro's second trial, and the Appellate Court agreed.  

18. Bernard mims

Bernard Mims was convicted of killing an off-duty correctional officer in 2000.  Zellner successfully argued that Mims was bedridden at the time of the shooting, having been shot himself ten days earlier, and therefore could not have been the killer.  The Cook County State's Attorney's Office Conviction Integrity Unit decided to drop charges after a lengthy investigation and Mims was released on October 27, 2016.

19. Darryl Fulton*

Darryl Fulton was convicted of a brutal 1994 rape and murder in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago.  The Cook County State's Attorney's Office Conviction Integrity Unit agreed to conduct DNA testing of samples from the victim, all of which excluded Fulton.  Fulton was released on November 20, 2017.

*Mr. Fulton's convictions and sentence have been vacated and he is expecting his case to terminate on the next court appearance in December of 2017. 


Representing Clients Wrongfully Charged With Murder And Other Crimes

At the Law Offices of Kathleen T. Zellner & Associates, we represent people whose civil rights have been violated in murder cases and other serious matters. For more than 23 years, our firm has been committed to fighting for justice — and seeing justice prevail — in federal and state courtrooms across the country. Equipped with extensive civil and criminal trial experience that includes numerous groundbreaking cases, we handle difficult matters involving:

  • Citizens who have been prosecuted for heinous crimes they did not commit
  • False arrest and false imprisonment
  • Coerced confessions and other fruits of police misconduct
  • Recanted testimony of witnesses
  • The false reporting of results of scientific testing
  • Pivotal DNA evidence that has established the innocence of wrongfully convicted people
  • Evidence that was improperly collected or handled

An Unequaled Track Record

As of February 2014, attorney Kathleen T. Zellner has won the exoneration of 17 wrongfully imprisoned men. No private attorney in the United States has successfully fought for the release of more wrongfully convicted individuals. In addition, Ms. Zellner won the highest-ever civil rights verdict for malicious prosecution, false arrest, and due process violations in the United States, based on per-month compensation to the plaintiff.

The key to the success of The Law Offices of Kathleen T. Zellner & Associates in the wrongful conviction area of law is that the firm has an outstanding record of winning. There is no other law firm in the Chicago area that combines successful criminal defense trial work with civil rights advocacy. Stated differently, it is hard to fully understand a wrongful conviction case without having been in the trenches with clients at their murder trials, appeals, or post-conviction proceedings.