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Illinois: DNA Evidence Exonerates One Man, Implicates Another

On September 28, 2016, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office announced charges against convicted murderer Osborne Wade, 42, in connection with the brutal sexual assault and murder of a child in 1992. The charges followed an extensive investigation by the State’s Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit, which revealed that Mark Maxson, now 55, had been wrongfully convicted for the crime in 1994.

As a result, the charges against Maxson were dismissed and he was released after serving approximately 22 years of a life sentence. Elliot Zinger, one of Maxson’s attorneys, said they will seek a certificate of innocence to have his conviction expunged, which would entitle him to up to $200,000 in compensation from the state. Zinger has also filed a lawsuit on Maxson’s behalf against the Chicago police detectives who allegedly coerced, beat and threatened his client into providing an unsigned confession.

Cook County prosecutors announced that DNA evidence from six-year-old Lindsey Murdock, Jr.’s clothing was a match to Wade, who subsequently confessed to the crime and wrote letters of apology to Murdock’s family.

Judge James Brown called the case the worst he’d seen in 14 years on the bench.

“I’m left with a case where an individual sat in a cage for 22 years on a confession only,” Brown said. “I’m not going to allow that to happen in this case.... That is a tragedy.” He ordered Wade held without bond, finding him to be a “tremendous danger to the community.”

“I’m just disappointed with this whole thing.... It makes me doubt the whole criminal justice system,” said the slain boy’s father, Lindsey Murdock, Sr.

Maxson was the 15th wrongfully convicted person to be exonerated by Cook County’s Conviction Integrity Unit.


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