Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

Michael Saunders

First Name Michael
Last NameSaunders
Year of Conviction1997
Year of Exoneration2012
Testing inculpated culpritCold Hit
State of ConvictionIllinois
Trial, Bench Trial, or Guilty PleaBench Trial
Type of CrimeRape and Murder
Death SentenceNo
Gender of ExonereeMale
Race of exonereeBlack
Types of evidence at trial
  • Confession
  • DNA excluded
  • Forensic Evidence
Were non-public facts alleged?Yes
Type of Forensic Evidence
  • DNA
Types of Flawed Forensics
  • Excluded
  • Valid
Examples of Non-Public or Corroborated Facts and Inconsistencies

● Description of victim’s clothing ● Victim’s injuries ● Presence of a shovel ● Location of the murder BUT DNA did not match the defendants. Did not mention that shovel was used to hit victim. Initially described victim’s jacket as red, then yellow; it was red with yellow lettering.

Quotes from law enforcement testimony

Q. Is any of that information there incorporated from what the detectives or assistant state’s attorney told you or is that what the defendant told you? A. That’s what he told me other than the words that I say after being advised, things like that, this statement is a summary of what he told me, Michael Saunders.”

Quotes from prosecution arguments

“Counsel suggests to you that [the prosecutor who took Saunders’ statement] gets the information he knows from the defendant and all the other people. All these evil people and detectives and state’s attorney… [H]e put it down just the way the defendant told it."

Interrogation RecordedWritten and signed confession statement
Highest level reachedAppeal
Claims Raised During All Appeals and Postconviction
  • Coerced Confession
Citations to judicial opinions

People v. Saunders, 723 N.E.2d 1168 (Ill., December 01, 1999)
People v. Saunders, 718 N.E.2d 531 (Ill.App. 1 Dist., August 23, 1999)

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