With a detective, a prosecutor and a stenographer in the room, Taylor said he and seven other gang members met at Clarendon Park to plot the murders.
SPECIAL REPORTThe Chicago Tribune's coverage of criminal justice and the death penalty
Chapter 1: Trial & Error
Chapter 2: Death Penalty in Illinois
Chapter 3: Death Penalty in America
Chapter 4: The Roscetti Case
Chapter 5: Cops and Confessions
Chapter 6: The trials of Dick Cunningham
Chapter 7: The road to clemency
Chapter 8: Cook County jail beatings
Chapter 9: The legacy of wrongful convictions
2002 Tribune Editorials
- Juvenile Delinquency
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They broke down the door and demanded money from one of the tenants. When he refused, a gang member "shot the guy on the left side of his head, around the temple area," Taylor said in his confession. Then they turned their attention to a woman who lived in the apartment, grabbing her arms.
"Please don't, please don't," she pleaded, according to Taylor's confession.
Twenty-nine minutes after Taylor had begun, prosecutors had the evidence they would need to send him to prison for the rest of his life.
But the case built upon Taylor's confession, like others examined in a Tribune investigation, was not as airtight as it seemed.
Just as he was going to be formally charged with two counts of murder, Taylor protested to detectives that he could not have committed the crimes because he had been in police custody when they occurred.
Within days, police found an arrest report that showed Taylor was locked up for disorderly conduct at 6:45 p.m. on Nov. 16, the night of the murders. A copy of a bond slip showed he had not been released from the Town Hall District lockup until 10 p.m.
The murders occurred at 8:43 p.m., according to police.
But instead of releasing Taylor and questioning how he came to confess, detectives gathered evidence putting Taylor on the street when the murders occurred and casting doubt on his arrest records.
They found a witness--a drug dealer and rival gang member--who said he saw Taylor in Clarendon Park at 7:30 p.m. They found two police officers, Michael Berti and Sean Glinski, who then filed a report saying they emerged from an apartment a half-block from the murders after making a drug arrest and saw Taylor at 9:30 p.m.
The fact that a jury chose to believe Taylor's confession over the police records that documented his arrest and his time in the lockup illustrates the remarkable potency of confessions in the criminal justice system. Taylor's conviction also shows just how difficult it can be for a defendant to disavow his confession, even when he has an alibi supported not by relatives or friends, but by police records.
A Tribune investigation of Taylor's case has uncovered new evidence that supports Taylor's version of events and his contention that his confession was false.
The witness who put Taylor in the park now says he lied at the request of detectives, and later was rewarded with leniency on a narcotics charge.
Key portions of the chronology laid out by Berti and Glinski are undermined by recent interviews and records obtained by the Tribune.
And, the Tribune found that four months before Berti and Glinski wrote their report, a Cook County Circuit judge ordered Berti off the witness stand in an unrelated case and branded him a "liar."
"I didn't do this and they know it," Taylor, now 26, said in one of several interviews at Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet. "I was in jail when this happened. No way I could have committed those murders."
Police and prosecutors involved in Taylor's case declined to comment.