Wrongfully-Accused Men Call for End of Death Penalty

Both Kevin Fox and Jerry Hobbs could have faced death had DNA evidence not cleared them

By Charlie Wojciechowski
|  Friday, Jan 14, 2011  |  Updated 9:45 PM CDT
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Kevin Fox, who was falsely accused of raping and killing his daughter Riley, and Jerry Hobbs, who was falsely accused of killing his daughter Laura and her friend Krystal Tobias, say capital punishment in Illinois is too flawed to continue.

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Two fathers, wrongly accused in the murders of their children, on Friday called for an end to the death penalty in Illinois.

Kevin Fox, who was falsely accused of raping and killing his daughter Riley, and Jerry Hobbs, who was falsely accused of killing his daughter Laura and her friend Krystal Tobias, said the system is too flawed to be allowed to continue.

"There are just too many gaps to do that to a person," said Hobbs, who was released from custody late last year.

Illinois legislators earlier this week passed a measure to repeal the state’s death penalty. Gov. Pat Quinn hasn't said whether he will sign it into law.

Both Hobbs and Fox say they still wrestle with the idea of a death penalty.

"The guy who killed my daughter, yeah, I’d like to see him dead," said Fox. "But then again, people like us, if it weren’t for the DNA testing, we would have been pinned with that crime."

Fox’s and Hobbs’ cases both hinged on DNA evidence that eventually excluded them as suspects. They want to see changes in state laws so that DNA tests, which are already required in rape cases, required in murder cases as well.

The attorney who represented both men, Kathleen Zellner, said the cost of such programs would almost be outweighed by the state’s savings in civil lawsuits from the wrongly convicted.

"What they’ve spent on the Fox cases and eventually in Jerry’s case, I think it's more money leaving it in the state its in now," she said.

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