FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Date: February 22, 2001

Contact: Lezli Austen

Private investigator Paul Ciolino to speak at UIS

SPRINGFIELD — The University of Illinois at Springfield will feature a presentation by private investigator Paul J. Ciolino at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, February 27, in the Public Affairs Center conference room G (lower level). The event is free and open to the public.

Ciolino gained famed in 1998 for his investigation that freed Anthony Porter from Illinois’ death row. Porter, a mildly retarded man who was 48 hours away from being executed for a crime he didn’t commit, spent 17 years on death row. Working with Northwestern University journalism professor David Protess, Ciolino broke open the case by taking a videotaped confession from the real killer, Alstory Simon. Because of Ciolino’s work, the Porter case generated intense media coverage, and ultimately led Governor George Ryan to impose a moratorium on executions in Illinois.

In 1996, Ciolino guided Northwestern University journalism students in re-investigating the case of the Ford Heights Four. In that case, four men had been convicted in 1979 of a brutal double murder of a gas station attendant and his girlfriend. Two of the men, Verneal Jimerson and Dennis Williams, were condemned to die and were awaiting execution. Ciolino, working with a team of journalism students, discovered police street files which identified four other suspects. Ciolino and the students obtained a confession from one of the men, forcing prosecutors in Cook County to release the Ford Heights Four.

Ciolino’s speech at UIS is part of an ongoing effort to form a downstate Innocence Project at UIS. UIS faculty from legal studies, criminal justice, and political studies are developing the project, which is in its preliminary stages and one of a variety of such efforts around the country. Once established, the project would review actual cases where there is reason to believe an individual has been wrongfully


convicted of a crime. The most notable organization in Illinois is the Center on Wrongful Conviction at Northwestern University Law School and the Medill School of Journalism, which has developed evidence to exonerate in at least three different cases where individuals have been sentenced to death and then found innocent through the work of students and others.

For more information contact Larry Golden, 206-7885, or Nancy Ford, 206-6576.

- 30 -