Exonerated Death-Row Inmate Charged with Theft

Sunday, Sep 25, 2011  |  Updated 3:51 PM CDT
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Exonerated of murder charges 12 years ago, Anthony Porter was picked up on theft charges last week.

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A former death row inmate who was exonerated days before execution was arrested Friday, accused of stealing deodorant from a South Side Walgreens.

Anthony Porter's 1999 release from prison was key to Illinois ending the death penalty this year.

The Chicago Tribune reports the 56-year-old was arrested and charged with retail theft.  He's been ordered held on $10,000 bail.

Porter served 17 years for a 1982 double murder before evidence surfaced he was innocent, thanks to the work of a Northwestern University professor and his students.  At one point in 1998, he was just 48 hours shy of execution when attorneys won a stay by raising concerns about his mental competence at trial.

The Northwestern professor, David Protess, and his students obtained a confession from another man for the murders, which eventually led to Porter being set free.

At his bond hearing Saturday, prosecutors included the homicide charges as they listed Porter's criminal background.  But, according to the Tribune, Porter softly asked his attorney to point out he was exonerated of those charges.

Former Gov. George Ryan has said Porter's release from prison was a reason he cleared death row in 2003.

Gov. Pat Quinn officially abolished Illinois' death penalty in March of this year.

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