Activists demand release of John Horton
The case of John Horton, of Rockford, IL has been the focus of several activists in recent time. In her petition of November 2014, Melissa Pearson writes a heartfelt letter to Governor Quinn. Excerps of the letter can be seen below,
Dear Governor Quinn,
I am writing to you regarding a gross injustice in the Illinois judicial system. In 1993, there was a murder in Rockford, IL, that ended with the sad loss of life of a young man named Arthur Castenada. He was gunned down at a McDonalds restaurant as a result of a burglary. The man who confessed to this crime was a 17 year old child at the time, who after numerous hours of unrecorded, unrepresented, interrogation, was told if he confessed to the murder, he would be able to go home. He did that, and as you can guess, 21 years later, has never gone home. His name is John W. Horton. He not only is innocent, his cousin, Clifton English, has confessed numerous times to the murder and John remains locked up.
John's head juror wrote a full page article in the local newspaper immediately after John's conviction, stating that we have the wrong man. John's cousin was picked out of a photo line up numerous times by investigator Paul Hackerson, who still fully believes in John's innocence. John has won the support of attorney Josh Tepfer through Northwestern Law School, Center on Wrongful Convictions, but remains in custody at Menard Correctional Center.
John had no prior recored and his attorney describes his case in an email to Dateline NBC, "John is not only innocent, he is not only a victim of a variety of blatant constitutional violations, we have not only identified with certainty the true assailant (although no one seems to care), but on top of that, John is one of the most lovely, warm, kind and talented people I know." This is not only an injustice to the victim and his family, but a waste of tax payers money. I pray you respond to this petition with action of freeing John Horton immediately."
Students at the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth at Northwestern University School of Law have also taken an interest in the case, and filed to overturn the conviction.