Yesterday, former Cook County Assistant State’s Attorneys Nick Trutenko and Andrew Horvat were charged for prosecutorial misconduct in our client Jackie Wilson’s case. This is the first time Cook County prosecutors have been criminally indicted in a wrongful conviction case. These charges are groundbreaking and redefine the scope of justice we can pursue for our clients.
Mr. Wilson spent 36 years wrongfully incarcerated after being convicted in 1983 for the murders of two CPD officers. Police and prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence of Mr. Wilson’s evidence, including an eyewitness to the murders and the knowledge that Mr. Wilson was tortured into a false confession by two Burge-era detectives. Thus followed a lengthy four-decade legal battle to prove Mr. Wilson’s innocence.
In 1987, Wilson’s first wrongful conviction was overturned by the state Appellate Court and a new trial was ordered. Then, in 1989 he was again found guilty, this time due in large part to falsified evidence by Trutenko and jailhouse snitch William Coleman. After a 2018 review by the Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission, which found sufficient evidence that Wilson was tortured, Wilson was once again subjected to a retrial – his third trial – in 2020. This time, Horvat supported Trutenko’s withholding of exculpatory evidence, namely Trutenko’s close relationship with Coleman. Finally, following a final two-week trial, the charges against Wilson were dropped.
Now, Trutenko has been charged with perjury, official misconduct, obstruction of justice, and violating a records act. Horvat has been charged with official misconduct. As EP attorney and Mr. Wilson’s counsel Elliot Slosar said, “the criminal charges … send a clear message to prosecutors: your misconduct will someday unravel, and when that happens, the wrongfully convicted will seek to hold you accountable to the fullest measure of the law.”