Case

Marcel Brown

Wrongful Conviction

Marcel Brown—age 18 and a recent high-school graduate—was arrested on September 3, 2008, four days after a shooting in a Chicago park that left another teenage boy dead. Police theorized that Marcel’s cousin (age 15) fired the fatal shot, and that Marcel was accountable because he drove his cousin to and from the park. After arresting Marcel at his home, police confined him in a windowless room for 34 hours and interrogated him until he made untrue inculpatory statements, which were the sole basis for his first-degree murder conviction and 35-year sentence. The lengthy and intense interrogation was a textbook example of how to make an innocent teenager confess to something he did not do.

On July 12, 2018, the State declined to appeal and dropped all charges. Marcel left the courthouse and strode into the waiting arms of his exuberant family—a free man for the first time in a decade.

“Marcel’s case is all too tragically familiar in the history of this City,” said Locke Bowman of the MacArthur Justice Center, one of the attorneys for Mr. Brown. “Chicago Police detectives wanted to close a homicide case with a minimum of effort.  They chose a vulnerable, African-American young man as a convenient target and forced him to inculpate himself in a crime he wasn’t involved in.”