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Prosecutors dismiss charges against man who served 28 years for double murder

Prosecutors dismiss charges against man who served 28 years for double murder
Prosecutors dismiss charges against man who served 28 years for double murder 02:23

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Cook County prosecutors have dismissed murder charges against a man who spent nearly three decades behind bars for a crime he says he didn't commit.

David Wright was just 17 years old when he says Chicago police detectives forced him to confess to the murder of his friends, 16-year-old Tyrone Rockett and 26-year-old Robert Smith, in 1994.

He spent 28 years in prison before he was released last year, after his conviction was vacated. Now that prosecutors have dropped the charges against him, he said he will now fight for those still behind bars who were wrongfully convicted.

Wright said he must now work to rebuild his life, connect with his family, and be a voice for those still serving time for crimes they never committed, just like him.

"It feels good, but at the same time it's questionable. For the last 30 years you've done implemented in two families' minds that I did something that I didn't. So how do you change that now?" Wright said after the charges were dropped at a hearing Wednesday morning.

On March 25, 1994, Rockett and Smith were on the 5900 block of South Parnell Avenue. As one walked through a gangway and another was behind a building, they were both shot and killed.

"Their families are going to walk around for the rest of their lives, thinking I killed their loved ones. How do you change that?" Wright said.

His attorney said Wright was 17 in 1994, when he signed a confession after an abusive 14-hour interrogation by three Chicago police detectives. Wright served 28 ½ years behind bars.

"The only evidence that ever existed against Mr. Wright was the statements that they said that he gave as a juvenile," said his attorney, David Owens, with The Exoneration Project. "There was no eyewitness. There is no forensic evidence. There's no bullet evidence. There's no nothing like that. It's just, 'Oh yeah, this kid after 15 hours of interrogation said this,' and that's all it was. So once we showed that the cops lacked reliability, that was part of it."

Smith's family said they want to know, if Wright wasn't the killer, who was it?

"The overwhelming evidence was that he was guilty; and be that as it may, we all have to answer to a higher power. So, you know, I'm gonna leave it there," said Smith's mother, Deborra Morgan.

Smith's sister, Sabrina Morgan, said, "There's no winners for any of the families involved."

"Where is the justice for my brother, her son? Where is the justice for Tyrone's family? Where is it?" she said.

Owens said, to date, 25 people have had their convictions overturned and charges dropped due to misconduct by the same detectives in Wright's case. He said others still remain behind bars. 

The city's Law Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. All three detectives are now retired from the Chicago Police Department.

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