Terry L. Nelson

Terry Nelson was wrongfully convicted of a murder based on contradictory testimony of three informants

Terry L. Nelson was convicted and sentenced to 40 years in prison in 1989 in St. Clair County, Illinois, for the execution-style shooting of a reputed drug dealer, Marvin Butler, outside a nightclub in the town of Centreville.

The conviction rested on the testimony of three informants who claimed that, while they were jailed with Nelson, he had confessed to the crime.

The Fifth District Illinois Appellate Court ordered a new trial, finding that the testimony of one of the informants had been inconsistent and that another had recanted. The St. Clair County State's Attorney's Office dropped all charges in 1994.

One of Nelson's key supporters was St. Clair County Sheriff Mearl J. Justus, who had steadfastly maintained that Nelson was innocent.

Two other men subsequently were convicted of the murder.