Robert Brown

Robert Brown and Elton Houston were convicted in 1984 of a presumed gang-related murder that three eyewitnesses told police the crime had been committed by three men in a Buick Riviera. One of the witnesses incorrectly identified Brown as one of the men in the Riviera, and the other two incorrectly identified Houston. Brown was convicted at a bench trial and sentenced to 35 years in prison. Houston's first trial ended with a hung jury, but he was convicted at his second jury trial and, like Brown, sentenced to 35 years.

In 1985, after the Illinois Appellate Court unanimously affirmed the convictions, a prisoner cooperating in a federal investigation of the El Rukn street gang identified the three men who actually committed the crime. Brown and Houston were exonerated and released in 1989 based on confessions of two of the men whom the federal cooperating witness had identified.

Brown and Houston filed civil rights claims alleging that the Chicago Police and Cook County State's Attorney's Office had failed to act after learning the identifies of the actual killers. Cook County settled those claims for $1.1 million in 1993. The police and prosecutorial misconduct did not impinge on the wrongful convictions because it occurred after the fact.