Illinois Innocence Project secures release in 1997 Urbana murder case

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SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois Innocence Project at the University of Illinois - Springfield has announced that a man who has served several years in prison in connection with a 1997 Champaign County murder was released Friday afternoon.

According to a news release, Teshome Campbell will be released from the Danville Correctional Center on January 29 as a result of the decision of Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz to not retry him.  The Illinois Innocence Project says Campbell was granted a new trial from a federal court, and State's Attorney Rietz did not choose to go forward with the new trial.

“There was evidence he was innocent, witnesses that had not been called, a co-defendant … was acquitted and had been with Teshone,” said attorney Erica Nichols Cook.

Campbell spoke with WAND by phone from a celebration Friday evening, saying he did not have words to describe his emotions.

“I’m elated, and I’m thankful,” Campbell said. “It’s surreal. It’s a surreal experience, and I’m just staying positive.”

Campbell was originally sentenced to 55 years in prison for a murder that happened in Urbana in 1997.  Illinois Innocence Project Executive and Legal Director John Hanlon says, "We are delighted that Teshome will be released after so many years in prison for a crime we believe he did not commit."

Campbell said his first goal is to get a job, and he also hopes to find the grave of his mother who fought for his release.

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