These two men spent combined 45 years in prison on wrongful convictions — now they’re free

These two men spent combined 45 years in prison on wrongful convictions — now they’re free
Anthony Jakes (second from left) and Robert Bouto (right) attend a news conference after their convictions were overturned. Jakes had spent 22 years in prison while Bouto had spent 23 years in prison. (Image source: WBBM video screenshot)

One man spent 22 years behind prison, another spent 23, and now both have now had their convictions overturned.

What happened?

Anthony Jakes, who is now 41, was arrested when he was just 15. He said that he had a murder confession beat out of him by Chicago detectives.

Unfortunately, Jakes’s mother and grandmother passed away before they could learn that he would be vindicated and released.

“I wish my grandmother and my mother was here to celebrate this victory. Because they were my biggest, biggest supporters,” Jakes said.

At his court hearing, he wore a shirt with a picture of his mother printed on it that read, “In Loving Memory of my Mother.”

The detectives, who got a confession from Jakes, worked under former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge, who later faced dozens of charges of torturing and beating suspects, most of whom were African-American.

The city of Chicago has paid out around $100 million to settle lawsuits brought by Burge’s victims. Thanks to the statute of limitations, Burge will not face any jail time for his abuses, although a 2010 perjury conviction did land him in prison for a few years.

What about the second man?

Robert Bouto is 42. In 1993, he was arrested in Chicago and charged in connection with a shooting death outside a high school. He was sentenced to 45 years, despite having an alibi.

“It’s just a great day right now. I’m so happy. It’s a big burden off my shoulders, like it is off mine,” Bouto said.

Russell Ainsworth, an attorney with the University of Chicago Exoneration Project, said that two witnesses who were used to confirm Bouto’s identity in a police lineup now say that they were told to pick Bouto by former Chicago Detective Reynaldo Guevara.

“Really, there’s no evidence against Mr. Bouto,” Ainsworth told WBBM-TV, “and he’s got plenty of evidence of his innocence. This is not a case that anybody wants to take to trial.”

What’s next?

Ainsworth is representing Bouto and Jakes, whom he says were “framed by corrupt, notorious Chicago Police officers.”

Bouto is only one victim in nearly 100 cases of alleged misconduct by Guevera and is the 18th person to have his conviction overturned after it was revealed that Guevera falsified evidence.

But the fight is not over for Bouto just yet. He faces a hearing May 29, when prosecutors will decide whether or not they want to force a retrial.

Both men want to get a certificate of innocence from the city and said that they have had trouble finding jobs after their release because of their prison time.