Eric Kittler

On March 9, 1997, Abdel Khalil, a candy salesman, was shot to death during an armed robbery at a grocery store in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago.   Shortly after the crime, police arrested Thomas Harvey, 17, who admitted participating in the armed robbery, but attributed the murder to 17-year-old Eric Orr.
 
Police searched for Orr for 18 days before they wound up at the house of 15-year-old Eric Kittler, who lived a block away from Orr.  Kittler was taken to police headquarters for questioning.  By the next day, when it should have been apparent that they had picked up the wrong youth, Kittler had signed a confession and had been charged with the murder.
 
Two years later, after the trial judge denied a motion to suppress the confession, Kittler was tried as an adult, convicted by a jury, and sentenced to 35 years in prison.  In March 2001, the Illinois Appellate Court held that police had lacked probable cause to arrest Kittler, vacated his conviction, and remanded his case for a new trial.  Upon retrial in March 2002, Kittler was acquitted.
 
In October 2003, Kittler filed a federal civil rights suit against, among others, Police Detectives Steven Buglio and Thomas Coughlin and Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Kent Sinson, alleging that they had coerced his confession, concealed exculpatory evidence, and fabricated evidence to put him behind bars for five years for a crime he did not commit.  In October 2006, the Chicago City Council Finance Committee approved a $2 million settlement in the case.
 
Center on Wrongful Convictions

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Posting Date:  Before June 2012

 

State:Illinois
County:Cook
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:Robbery
Reported Crime Date:1997
Convicted:1999
Exonerated:2002
Sentence:35 years
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age:15
Contributing Factors:False Confession, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No