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Brothers exonerated for 1994 murder still await certificate of innocence

By Shardaa Gray,

2023-03-14

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Brothers exonerated for 1994 murder still waiting for certificate of innocence 02:48

CHICAGO (CBS) – Two brothers were expected to get a certificate of innocence on Monday after being exonerated for a murder they did not commit, only to find out they'll have to wait even longer.

The pair said they were tortured into confessing to a murder by Chicago police officers overseen by Commander Jon Burge.

CBS 2's Shardaa Gray went to the Leighton Criminal Courthouse with the brothers' reaction.

The two brothers waited two hours in the courtroom, patiently waiting to be called to finally clear their names. But when they were called, their hearts sank to their stomach after hearing their case was pushed back.

There was confusion and frustration for brothers Reginald Henderson and Sean Tyler.

"I don't see how you can be innocent and still somehow be guilty," Tyler said. "I'm at a loss."

They said they were tortured into admitting a murder they had nothing to do with.

"This is our life," Henderson said. "You have no right to hold us up like this. We're trying to get on."

Nearly 30 years after their conviction, they were exonerated and released from prison.

Now, they're fighting for that certificate of innocence to expunge their record and get some closure.

"Enough is enough," Henderson said. "You know what I mean? It's been 29 years come next month. Enough is enough."

The judge indicated there were some matters she wants to explore further.

"I want to re-emphasize that irrespective of how she rules, it's not a denial of a certificate of innocence," said attorney Jennifer Bonjean. "The question just merely is whether we're going to have to proceed to a hearing."

In 1994, the then 17- and 18-year-old brothers were arrested and tortured by Chicago police officers under the watch of disgraced former CPD Commander Jon Burge, who himself was convicted in 2010 of lying about the torture of suspects. He served more than three years in prison and died in 2018.

Tyler was released in 2019 and his brother in 2020.

While in prison, Tyler wrote six books and designed a clothing line, which highlights the strength of their fight for innocence.

"Going into prison at 17 wasn't what I came out with at 42," said Tyler. "I truly did have a new vision and I have a new vision."

Henderson earned his college degree, but by the time the brothers were out of prison, their sister had died. Their mother also died not long after they came home.

"How am I doing?" he said. "You tell me."

The brothers said they'll be back in court with their lawyers and family on Thursday morning.

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