Hours after new information "warranted dismissal" of the first-degree murder charges against him, one of the four teens accused of beating a student to death walked out of jail and into a swarm of reporters.
Eugene Bailey was arrested Sept. 26, two days after 16-year-old Derrion Albert was killed during a fight after classes let out at Christian Fenger Academy High School on the city's South Side.
"While the charge against Bailey was brought in good faith based on witness accounts and identifications, additional information has developed during the ongoing investigation that warranted dismissal of the murder charge," the Cook County State's Attorney's Office said in a statement.
The office did not elaborate on what new information it had obtained.
"I'm enthused," his mother, Ava Greyer, told reporters at the courthouse Monday afternoon after the charges were dropped. "I'm trying to hurry up and get out of here so I can go outside and scream."
Upon walking out of the Cook County Jail just after 6 p.m. Monday, Bailey thanked Jesus and expressed remorse for missing Albert's funeral while he was in custody.
"I just want to give a shout-out to Derrion's family, his mother and grandmother," he said. "And I'm sorry I couldn't attend his funeral. He was a good friend of mine."
Bailey's family has long maintained that the case against him was one of mistaken identity.
"He's not guilty. He wasn't no where around there on the premises or none of that. (Derrion) was his friend," Greyer said after her son was charged. "You just can't go around taking innocent people's lives because you're too lazy to do your job."
Bailey's brother, Levar Johnson told reporters that Bailey was at home during the attack.
"The bottom line is that someone said, 'That's Eugene,' and they arrested him and through him under the system," Pastor Juan Leon told reporters Monday afternoon. He said Bailey is a youth Deacon at his church.
Three other teens, Silvanus Shannon ,19, Eugene Riley ,18, and Eric Carson, 16, are facing charges in the melee captured on a cell phone video. That video shows a group striking Albert with boards and kicking him as he lay on a sidewalk.
His death and the disturbing footage of the beating quickly attracted the attention of President Barack Obama, who sent Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan to the city to meet with Fenger students, parents and administrators.
Duncan, the former chief of Chicago Public Schools, said Fenger would receive an emergency grant of about $500,000 for counselors or other programs.
Federal officials also promised support for efforts nationwide to fight youth violence.
In Chicago, Mayor Richard Daley has introduced plans to add more police officers at schools and funding for after-school programs.