Rodell Sanders exonerated after 20 years in prison

Rodell Sanders exonerated after 20 years in prison

Caption: Rodell Sanders (right) had to endure 20 years of prison before being exonerated Wednesday.

Photo Credit: NBC Philadelphia


An Illinois man finally got the verdict he hoped for. He only had to wait two decades for a “not guilty”.

Rodell Sanders, 49, was exonerated of a murder sentence after serving 20 years in prison. Sanders had claimed back in 1994 that he was framed for a 1993 murder of a man in a Chicago Heights parking garage because of his gang ties . The jury did not listen to him, and sent Sanders to Cook County Jail for 80 years.

But that did not stop Sanders. He had his sister buy him $1,000 worth of law books, and he used the time behind bars to study. In 2007, he filed for a post-conviction hearing for a new trial-based-on ineffective counsel- and won, but then the state appealed. Sanders then asked the University of Chicago’s Exoneration Project for their assistance, and they took the case.

Sanders was released Wednesday after they were able to prove that the image of him used in the photo lineup was doctored to make Sanders look like the shooter. His attorneys also claim that there was never any physical evidence presented in the case, and the only evidence was from a paid informant.

Sanders filed a lawsuit against the city of Chicago Heights and the officers involved in the case in January 2013. Sanders’ party is seeking punitive damages for violations of due process, conspiracy, and failure to intervene. The first trial for Sanders’ next case will be held on Tuesday.