Champaign, IL – Illinois Governor George Ryan used an appearance at the University of Illinois Law School yesterday to pardoned three men wrongfully convicted of murder in the Chicago area.
Pardons for Rolando Cruz, Gary Gauger and Steven Linscott have been widely expected. Cruz was sentenced to die for the murder and rape of a little girl but was later exonerated.
DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett issued a tough response to the news. In his words, "At best, Rolando Cruz is a man who committed multiple acts of perjury before a grand jury and intentionally
obstructed the investigation of the abduction, rape and murder of a ten-year-old child."
Ryan bristled at suggestions that he timed the pardons to deflect attention from a federal probe into corruption in his office when he was secretary of state.
He says he's been working on the pardons for a long time.
Rolando Cruz says he'll always consider Governor George Ryan a hero for pardoning him today of the wrongful conviction that has plagued him for many years.
He tells WGN TV in Chicago tonight that Ryan's decision to pardon him along with two other men sets an example for other
He says he hopes other leaders realize the importance of having questionable convictions reviewed by several parties before determining a just conclusion.
Cruz says the pardon will be a blessing because he'll no longer have to tell prospective employers that he's been convicted of a crime.