Mistakes Were Made: Prosecutorial Misjudgment or Misconduct? by Lettie M. McSpadden

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Lettie M. McSpadden
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Book review

This is the true story of a notorious rape and murder of a young girl. Jeanine Nicarico was kidnapped from her home in Naperville, Illinois and brutally killed in February, 1983. Three young men were tried for this horrible crime. Two were convicted and put on death row. While this case was going through the courts, and the accused men were locked up, two other brutal murders similar to the first occurred in neighboring counties. Another man, Brian Dugan, confessed to all three murders. Yet the authorities in DuPage County, where Jeanine was killed, would not give up their theory of how she was killed. When the Illinois Supreme Court found the accused had not received a fair trial prosecutors in DuPage prepared to try them again. Even when Dugan's DNA matched that found at the crime scene they continued their prosecution of the case. At the beginning of the second trial, one policeman admitted he was mistaken about his testimony earlier and all the cases were thrown out of court. But not before one man had spent thirteen years on death row. In 1996 a specially empaneled grand jury took the unusual step of indicting seven police investigators and prosecutors for obstruction of justice in the Nicarico case. In 1999 they were tried and acquitted. It is problematic whether their indictment served as a warning to other prosecutors who may develop their own tunnel vision in their investigations.


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