Illinois: former death row inmate cleared as innocent

An Illinois woman sentenced to death on a false confession has been vindicated after 29 years.

Marilyn Mulero was exonerated Aug. 9, 2022, when a Cook County judge granted motions by State’s Attorney Kim Foxx to dismiss all charges against her and six others framed for murder by former Chicago police officer Reynaldo Guevara.

Mulero is the 190th person and third woman to be exonerated in the U.S. since 1973 after being wrongfully sentenced to death. Mulero’s exoneration brings the total number of exonerations of people sentenced to death in Illinois’ Cook County to 16 – more than any other county in the United States.

At least 14 of those exonerations involved official misconduct by police or prosecutors, and eight involved false confessions. With 22 death row exonerations, Illinois is second only to Florida with 30 death row exonerations.

Thirty-one wrongful convictions linked to Guevera’s misconduct have been overturned since 2016, including that of death row inmate Gabriel Solache. Guevera is accused of framing defendants for murder in more than fifty cases by beating, threatening, and coercing suspects to obtain false confessions.

Mulero spent 28 years in prison, five of them on death row, before being released in April 2020 when Gov. J.B. Pritzker commuted her sentence. Illinois’ high rate of wrongful convictions in death cases was a major factor in the abolition of the death penalty in 2011.