Alejandro Dominguez, who spent four years in prison for a rape he did not commit, was awarded $9 million by a federal jury after DNA evidence cleared him of the charges.
Dominguez, now 33, was 16 years old when he was convicted of the 1989 home invasion and rape in Waukegan, Illinois, and was sentenced to nine years in prison. Dominguez was released after serving half his sentence with time off for good behavior.
DNA tests later showed that Dominguez could not have been the source of the semen recovered from the victim, and a judge overturned his conviction in 2002. He was pardoned by the governor in 2005.
Dominguez then filed suit, claiming that Waukegan police violated his due process rights to a fair trial. Jon Loevy, who represented Dominguez in his civil trial against the city of Waukegan and now retired police Lt. Paul Hendley, said police pushed the rape victim to pick Dominguez out of a one-person lineup.
As a result of the wrongful conviction, Dominguez said that he had difficulty finding a job, was hassled by immigration, and was forced to register as a sex offender.
"It’s a day for justice,” said Loevy after the jury returned its verdict.
Source: Associated Press, www.belleville.com
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