Larry Gillard was convicted of the rape and armed robbery of a 25-year-old woman in her Chicago apartment on May 19, 1981.
Gillard was arrested a week after the crime four blocks from the crime scene by an off-duty police officer who testified that he saw Gillard run from a home that the officer thought might have been burglarized. Due to the proximity of the rape victim’s apartment to the scene of the purported burglary, Gillard was put into a police lineup from which the rape victim identified him as her assailant.
Gillard was not charged with any offense related to his arrest. At his trial for the rape, in January 1982, the only evidence purportedly linking him to the crime was the victim’s identification and the testimony of a Chicago Police Crime Laboratory analyst, Christine Kokocinski, who claimed that Gillard was among only 4.4 percent of the African American population who could have been the source of semen recovered from the victim. The jury deliberated only an hour before returning a guilty verdict, and Gillard was sentenced to 24 years in prison. His appeals were denied.
In 2008 the Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago Law School obtained DNA testing that excluded Gillard as the perpetrator and identified the actual rapist. Gillard’s conviction was dismissed and he was released on May 26, 2009.
On August 27, 2009, Judge Paul Biebel, Jr., presiding judge of the Criminal Division of the Cook County Circuit Court, granted Gillard a certificate of innocence, qualifying him for $170,000 in compensation for his wrongful conviction.
Gillard filed a civil rights lawsuit against the City of Chicago. During the litigation of the lawsuit, Gillard secured additional forensic testing. Based on that testing, his forensic experts opined that even the more basic testing methods available at the time of trial would have excluded Gillard as a contributor of the biological found in the victim's rape kit. Whether the testimony otherwise at Gillard's trial was the result of a deliberate misstatement or institutional incompetence was unclear, though Gillard’s lawyers also discovered an audit of the Chicago Crime Lab from the relevant time period suggesting that similar errors were prevalent. In January 2014, the City of Chicago agreed to pay $6.375 million to settle the lawsuit.
— Center on Wrongful Convictions