A man who spent more than 25 years in prison for the 1980 murder and attempted rape of a Chicago woman was cleared of all charges Thursday.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office dropped all charges against 54-year-old Daniel Andersen following a judge’s decision to overturn his conviction and order a new trial in July, according to a statement from Northwestern University.
Anderson was convicted of attempted rape and murder for the stabbing death of 20-year-old Cathy Trunko more than three decades ago.
Trunko’s body was found in the 4900 block of South Paulina Street on Jan. 19, 1980. Police belived a bloody knife found two days after the stabbing was the murder weapon.
Andersen, then 19, was arrested for disorderly conduct when he allegedly confessed to the murder, but officials argued he was sleep-deprived and drunk at the time.
After conviction, Andersen was sentenced to 55 years in prison. He was released in 2007, having spent 27 years in prison.
DNA testing nearly 30 years later found neither Andersen's nor Trunko's blood was on the knife.
Judge Alfredo Maldonado called the new DNA evidence "extraordinarily compelling" and overturned the conviction. He said “the knife was the lynchpin of the State’s case” against Andersen.
Andersen says he's grateful his parents are alive to see his conviction overturned.