As in the rest of the country, in Chicago criminal defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This is meant to be a high standard of proof that is supposed to avoid convictions based on ambiguous or dubious evidence.
Earlier this month, a murder trial ended in a not guilty verdict for a Chicago man charged in the death of a 16-year-old male in 2014. Despite the prosecutions’ claims, the court was not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was the person who shot the victim to death.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the defendant and victim were guests at a party in an apartment in the South Side Woodlawn neighborhood in January 2014. The defendant was there with his girlfriend, who was friends with the victim. At one point, the defendant and his girlfriend got into an argument and the victim intervened.
The defendant left the party, but prosecutors claimed that he returned with a handgun and shot the victim in the chest. The defendant later left Illinois, and was arrested in Iowa several months after the incident. He was held in Cook County Jail since his arrest.
The Sun-Times article does not mention much of the evidence against the defendant, besides the argument, so we do not know the entirety of the prosecution’s case. Nor do we know why it was insufficient to convict him. But this case does show that the fact that there is some evidence against a defendant is not enough to secure a conviction.