New trial for Benita Johnson

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Detective Richard Zuley may be most famous for his notorious interrogations at Guantanamo Bay, but he first learned his torture techniques in the interrogation rooms of Chicago. Now, this 30-year veteran of the Chicago PD is under investigation for using illegal methods to coerce confessions that have put several possibly innocent people behind bars. One of his cases has already been overturned, and a man who spent 23 years in prison is now finally free. But while officials slowly make their way through the pages of evidence against this corrupt cop, a woman I know, Benita Johnson -- another of Zuley’s many victims -- still wastes away in prison.  

My name is Robert. From 1998-2001, I was incarcerated in the Illinois Department of Corrections. During this time I met several people who claimed they were innocent and I never knew what to believe. After doing research on this detective, I found one of his victims. Benita's conviction doesn’t add up. And now that I am on the outside, I am doing everything I can to get her a new trial so she can prove her innocence.

I am asking Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office to grant Benita Johnson a new trial, so she can prove her innocence. She shouldn’t spend one more day behind bars while the true criminal is allowed to walk free.

At first, when Zuley didn’t have any suspects, he leaned on a sketchy street informant who received $15,000 reward money from the victim’s family and who had also been used to close previous high profile cases. One of those cases a man lost his freedom for more than 5 years before a Chicago Judge acquitted him, saying this specific informant is worthless. Facing public pressure to find the killer, Zuley closed this case using Johnson, an innocent woman, that didn’t match witness descriptions and has had 3 separate DNA tests that do not match the DNA evidence police recovered. They had no murder weapon or evidence connecting Benita to the crime.

Yet, even with all these legal missteps and the lack of evidence, they still threw Benita behind bars for 50 years. She remains in jail to this day for a crime I am sure she didn’t commit. And I am not the only one: Chicago attorney Kathleen Zellner, who has won more exonerations than any other lawyer in the US, is now taking a closer look at Johnson’ conviction.

It’s time to grant Benita Johnson a new trial and let true justice be served. We cannot continue to keep this woman behind bars while the real killer could be walking the streets. Please sign my petition and help me fight for justice for Benita Johnson.



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Robert Chattler needs your help with “Anita Alvarez: New trial for Benita Johnson”. Join Robert and 8,764 supporters today.