ILLINOIS (WAND) – A wrongfully convicted Illinois man will be exonerated decades after he died in prison.
The Illinois Innocence Project says the person granted clemency will be Grover Thompson, who was convicted after the 1981 death of a Mount Vernon woman. He decided to rest in the lobby of a Mount Vernon post office during a bus journey to see family in Mississippi while, at the same time, a man broke into the home of 72-year-old widow Ida White, hid in her shower and stabbed her.
This is the first posthumous exoneration in Illinois history and the 21st nationwide.
A neighbor told police a black man fled the scene of the crime. Thompson, who the Innocence Project says wore clothing that didn’t match the attacker’s description and had a disability, was arrested and found guilty, then sentenced to 40 years behind bars for attempted murder. He died in prison in 1996.
The Innocence Project says Lt. Paul Echols, a now-retired member of Carbondale’s police department, ended up getting a confession to the crime from Tim Krajcir, who it says was “sometimes mistaken for a dark-complexioned man”. Krajcir has a history of sex crimes dating back decades and admitted to killing nine people, police say.
Former Gov. Bruce Rauner first denied an attempt to get posthumous exoneration for Thompson in 2015 and approved it before leaving office. The Illinois Innocence Project first filed for it in 2011.
At a press conference Tuesday, Thompson's nephew S.T. Jamison remembered his uncle.
"He taught us right from wrong. He was a hard worker," Jamison said. "He was extremely funny. He was also a blues player. He played the guitar like nobody could."
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