Steven Shores

Steven Shores was convicted primarily on the testimony of the probable perpetrators of the crime

Steven Shores was convicted and sentenced to 35 years in prison in 1984 for the murder of Garrison Hester, an off-duty security guard, on the south side of Chicago in 1982. The conviction rested primarily on testimony by two El Rukn gang members who had been alternative suspects in the crime.

The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the conviction by a two-one vote, but, in dissent, Justice R. Eugene Pincham branded the prosecution case "ludicrous, farfetched, unreasonable, and unworthy of belief."

After the Illinois Supreme Court declined to hear the case and Shores's post-conviction was denied, he filed a petition for a federal writ of habeas corpus. U.S. District Court Judge Paul Plunkett denied the petition in 1987, but wrote that, had he been the trial judge, he probably would not have convicted Shores based on the evidence.

After the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed Plunkett, Shores filed a post-conviction petition in the trial court. It was denied, but during its pendency new evidence surfaced further discrediting the El Rukns' trial testimony. Shores continued his appeals. In 1989, he brought a second habeas petition, which Judge Plunkett granted in 1990, only to be reversed the following year by the Seventh Circuit.

Subsequently additional exculpatory evidence came to light as a result of a federal investigation of the El Rukns, and Shores brought a third habeas petition, raising substantial issues relating to his actual innocence. Judge Plunkett found that Shores made a sufficient showing to warrant an evidentiary hearing and to take the depositions of the El Rukn witnesses.

When discovery was completed, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office agreed to drop the case and free Shores, but only if he would agree to enter into an Alford plea on a related charge.

Shores accepted the offer and was released in 1996.