Another Death Row Exoneration

April 16, 2009

Nathson Fields is the 131st person to be exonerated and freed from death row.

Nathson Fields is also the 13th exonerated death row prisoner in Illinois.

Fields’ case is another typical case in the american justice system, filled with all the usual elements: racism, judicial corruption, prosecutorial misconduct, and on and on.

Nathson Fields is the 131st innocent person to be saved from the american death machine.

How many more lives will it take before the racist, unjust and barbaric death penalty is completely abolished for once and for all in the United States?

Man formerly on Death Row acquitted in retrial


A former high-ranking gang member sent to Death Row by a Cook County judge convicted of fixing murder cases was acquitted Wednesday for the double homicide he was imprisoned for two decades ago.

“I feel like my prayers have been answered,” Nathson Fields, 55, said after Judge Vincent Gaughan issued the not guilty verdict in the retrial. “It’s like a dream.”

The former El Rukn “general” spent 11½ years on Death Row for the 1984 murders of rival gang members Jerome “Fuddy” Smith and Talman Hickman.

Fields was granted a new trial in 1998 when the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that he and his co-defendant Earl Hawkins had been denied a fair trial since Thomas J. Maloney, the judge who heard the initial case in 1986, took a $10,000 bribe from Hawkins’ lawyer to acquit the two men.

Maloney later returned the money, convicted the men and sentenced them to death when he learned he was under federal investigation.

Maloney, who died last year, spent 13 years in prison for fixing murder cases.

Gaughan said Wednesday he found the prosecutors’ witnesses, including their key witness, Hawkins, incredible.

Hawkins, who admitted to killing 15 to 20 people, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of armed violence in exchange for his testimony against Fields.

“If someone has such disregard for life, what regard would they have for the oath?” Gaughan said, questioning Hawkins’ credibility.

Fields’ attorneys, Jean Maclean Snyder and Herschella Conyers, said the state’s attorney’s office should have dropped the murder charges over a decade ago.

“All along they knew these witnesses, to be charitable, were flawed,” Maclean Snyder said.

Fields has been living in the south suburbs since 2003, when he was released on bond. He plans to continue working on rehab construction and speaking to youths about the perils of crime.

Cartoon of the Day

April 1, 2009