The Jacksonville Correctional Center was the site yesterday of a man being released from prison after being sentenced for murdering two people over 30 years ago.
A Cook County Judge ordered the immediate release of Alstory Simon. He confessed in 1999 to shooting two people to death at a South Side park in Chicago in 1982. Simon had confessed to the crime, but there are serious questions about whether he was coerced into doing so.
“I feel wonderful, man,” Simon told reporters. “I was so happy, man. I was speechless.”
Simon was the second person convicted of the crime. The man who had originally been convicted, Anthony Porter, was spared the death penalty and released from custody, even though witnesses say they saw him pull the trigger.
That was the case that led former Governor George Ryan to impose a moratorium on the death penalty in Illinois.
Terry Ekl, Simon’s attorney, says Simon’s own confession was coerced by anti-death penalty advocates who claim Porter was tortured by police.
“They needed a poster boy for the anti-death penalty movement,” Ekk claims.
After Simon confessed, Porter was released and can’t be tried again.
Simon says he’s missed a lot while he was behind bars, but there’s one thing that hurts more than anything.
“I miss my family, and my mom. She died when I was here,” he says.
Simon was serving a 37-year sentence when he was released yesterday.