Meet the Exonerees

Omar Saunders

State: Illinois
Date of Birth: 1970
Incident Date: 09/17/1986
Age at Arrest: 18
Conviction Date: 1988
Age When Exonerated: 31
Exonerated Date: 2001
Time Served: 13.5
Conviction: murder, aggravated criminal sex assault
False Confession: No
Implicated by Another Youth: Yes

Case Details

In January 1987, three months after twenty-three-year-old Chicago medical student Lori Roscetti was kidnapped, raped, and murdered, pressure was mounting on the police to find the assailant. The police had obtained confessions, later proven to be false, from fourteen-year-old Calvin Ollins and seventeen-year-old Marcellus Bradford, both of whom had also implicated sixteen-year-old Larry Ollins. However, in an attempt to solidify the case, the police also questioned eighteen-year-old Omar Saunders. At first, police insisted that Omar confess that he was breaking into nearby railroad cars the night of the murder, heard screaming, and saw four black men and a white woman near the tracks. When Omar refused to confess, the police developed a new theory: rather than being a witness, Omar was one of the assailants. Omar was tried and convicted on this theory alongside the Ollins cousins and Bradford. All four were exonerated through DNA testing in 2001.