Marcellius Bradford

Marcellius Bradford confessed to a crime he did not commit, resulting in the convictions of himself and three other innocent men

Marcellius Bradford was one of four men wrongfully convicted of the 1986 rape and murder of medical student Lori Roscetti in Chicago. Bradford confessed and pleaded guilty to the crime — and implicated three other innocent men — pursuant to a plea agreement his counsel worked out with the Cook County State's Attorney's Office. At the time of his confession, he was just 17 years old.

Bradford's confession prompted another of his co-defendants, 14-year-old Calvin Ollins, also to confess. Bradford received a lenient sentence — 12 years, of which he would serve 6.5 years — in exchange for testifying against Ollins and the other codefendants, Larry Ollins, 16, and Omar Saunders, 18. All three were sentenced to life in prison.

False testimony by Chicago police crime laboratory analyst Pamela Fish also contributed to the wrongful convictions. After all four men were exonerated by DNA testing in 2001, the defense DNA expert, Edward T. Blake, of California-based Forensic Science Associates, characterized Fish's trial testimony as "scientific fraud."

Six months after Blake reported the DNA results, the four men were exonerated and released — Saunders and Larry and Calvin Ollins, who are first cousins, in late 2001, and Bradford in early 2002.

After their release, the four men received pardons based on innocence from Illinois Governor George H. Ryan and a telephone tip led police to arrest two other men — Duane Roach, 46, and Eddie Harris, 38 — for the crime. They confessed after DNA testing linked them to the crime. In 2004, they pled guilty and were sentenced to 75 years in prison.

Lawsuits brought by the innocent men against Fish and others were settled by the City of Chicago for $10.4 million — $8 million shared equally by Saunders and Larry Ollins, $1.4 million for Calvin Ollins, and $900,000 for Bradford.

False forensic testimony by Fish was crucial in the wrongful convictions of three innocent men — John Willis, Donald Reynolds, and Billy Wardell — who had been convicted in rape cases.  — Rob Warden