Law school client seeks to prove his innocence after pardon

Shane McKeon, Assistant Campus Editor

A client of the School of Law’s Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth is asking a Peoria County judge to dismiss his previous offenses.

Johnnie Lee Savory, convicted for the 1977 murders of Connie Cooper and James Robinson, said results of DNA testing prove he is innocent.

On his final day in office, now-former Gov. Pat Quinn pardoned Savory. The pardon permits Savory to expunge his record of these convictions, but he’s since gone further and tried to prove his innocence.

The prosecution cited a dot of Robinson’s blood on a light switch plate that they argued Savory had left behind after the killings.

Joshua Tepfer, Savory’s attorney from the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth, said in a news release that DNA testing found an unknown person’s blood on the plate.

“There is foreign DNA mixed with James Robinson’s blood on the exact tiny spot that the prosecution has long maintained the perpetrator placed there,” Tepfer said in the release. “The DNA profile is not the female victim’s. It is not anyone else’s living or staying in the home. And it is not Mr. Savory’s. It is the killer’s DNA — and these results prove that killer is not Johnnie Lee Savory.”

Savory and his attorneys had lobbied for testing for years before a Peoria County judge granted the request in August 2013.

Seminal fluid from a rape kit was taken from Cooper after the murder. That testing also excluded Savory as a possible perpetrator.

The court also ordered testing on other physical evidence, much of which has no DNA left to test.

“Time causes DNA to degrade,” Tepfer said in the release. “We’ll never know whether DNA could have identified the true perpetrator had the state simply agreed to do the testing two decades ago when requested.”

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