A federal jury awarded Thaddeus Jimenez a record $25 million in damages on Tuesday following his exoneration on a 1993 murder conviction when he was just 13 years old, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The verdict could be one of the biggest of its kind for the city of Chicago if it makes it through the appeals process, attorney Jon Loevy told the paper.
As a young teen, Jimenez was arrested for the murder of an older teenager, Eric Morro. According to Loevy, police detectives coerced witnesses into naming Jimenez as the killer.
After he was charged with the murder, the actual killer confessed on audiotape, however, prosecutors at the time disregarded the new evidence, Loevy told the paper.
Lawyers and students at Northwestern University began investigating Jimenez’s case years after his conviction and found that two key witnesses had recanted their statements, the paper reported. Prosecutors agreed to reopen the case following those findings.
Jimenez was eventually released from prison after serving 16 years. The new suspect, Juan Carlos Torres, has yet to go to trial.
"The state's attorney's office … recognized an injustice had occurred and they corrected it," Loevy told the Tribune. "They deserve a ton of credit for reopening the case … taking an honest look at it and correcting an injustice."