Members of the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project have successfully helped exonerate prisoners. But yesterday they requested the state’s Prisoner Review Board grant a posthumous exoneration. Rachel Otwell reports.
At the time of his arrest in 1981, Grover Thompson was homeless and suffering from mental illness. He was en route to Mississippi to see family when he got off a bus in Mt. Vernon Illinois.
Southern Illinois University law professor William Schroeder: “He was passing through town, didn’t have any friends, he was poor. I think he was sleeping in the post office when they picked him up. It was a serious crime they needed to find someone and he was there. And from them on it just went downhill.”
Schroeder worked on the case with three law students at the university, professors at the University of Illinois Springfield, and law enforcement officials. They are all convinced Thompson was not guilty.
Thompson was tried and convicted for the attempted murder of an elderly woman, and sentenced to 40 years in prison.
He died of natural causes in 1996 serving that sentence. Then, in 2007, a serial killer confessed to the stabbing. Schroeder says he’s convinced the evidence shows Thompson deserves clemency.