Three Charged With 1978 Murders in Case That Wrongly Convicted Four
Jul. 04, 1996
CHICAGO (AP) _ As three men wrongly convicted in a 1978 double murder enjoyed their first full day of freedom, three other men were charged with the slayings.
Ira Johnson, Arthur Robinson and Juan Rodriguez were charged Wednesday with the killings of Carol Schmal and her fiance, Larry Lionberg, one day after DNA evidence and digging by college students led a judge to dismiss charges against the innocent men.
Schmal and Lionberg were killed after they were abducted from the gas station in suburban Homewood where Lionberg worked. Schmal was also raped.
The next day police arrested Kenneth Adams, Dennis Williams, Willie Rainge and Verneal Jimerson for the killings. All lived near where the bodies were found.
A team from Northwestern University spent six months investigating the case in what began as a college journalism project.
The students elicited confessions from Robinson and Johnson, who is now serving a 74-year sentence for another murder. They also implicated Johnson's brother Dennis, who has since died of a drug overdose.
Recent DNA tests also showed that none of the four men convicted in the case could have been the ones who raped Schmal.
Jimerson was exonerated last month. On Tuesday, a judge dropped all charges against Adams, Rainge and Williams.
``The evidence that excluded the four guys yesterday pointed to these guys,'' said Chris Welch, a spokesman for the Cook County state's attorney's office.
On Tuesday, Cook County State's Attorney Jack O'Malley said he would support a pardon for all four men. That could allow them to receive up to $35,000 compensation from the state.