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James Eardley

Other Conspiracy Cases
In the fall of 1989, police in Bloomington, Illinois arrested 18-year-old Tony Adkisson and 23-year-old James Eardley on charges of arson and conspiracy to commit criminal damage to property worth more than $300. Police said the two agreed to torch Eardley’s 1986 Camaro Z-28 because the car had mechanical problems and Adkisson wanted to collect on his insurance and buy another vehicle.

Adkisson pled guilty and told police that he had asked Eardley to "steal" the car and get rid of it. Eardley went on trial in January 1990 in McLean County Circuit Court.

Matt Glaser, the son of a woman that Eardley was dating, testified that Eardley told him that he and Adkisson got the car stuck in a ditch near a gravel pit about seven miles from Bloomington, and that Adkisson decided to burn it for the insurance money.

The defense sought to introduce a statement made by Adkisson to Glaser that he burned the car for the insurance, and Eardley was not involved. The judge refused to allow the statement into evidence.

Eardley testified in his own defense that Adkisson was driving the car recklessly and it became lodged in a ditch. He told the jury they walked back to Adkisson’s house and returned to the ditch in Adkisson’s mother’s car. They tried to push the car out of the ditch but were unsuccessful.

Eardley testified that they decided to leave, but at the last minute, Adkisson walked back to the car and leaned inside. Eardley said they drove off and when they got into the Interstate and passed by the pond, he saw a yellow glow in the distance that looked like something was on fire. He denied conspiring with Adkisson to burn the car for the insurance.

On January 19, 1990, the jury acquitted Eardley of the arson charge, but convicted him of the conspiracy to commit criminal damage to property of more than $300.

Before Eardley was sentenced, his attorney filed a motion for a new trial arguing that the judge should have admitted Adkisson’s statements in evidence. In March 1990, the judge granted the motion and vacated Eardley’s conviction.

Eardley went to trial a second time in February 1991 and the evidence of Adkisson’s statements was presented. A jury acquitted Eardley on February 21, 1991.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 10/28/2014
Most Serious Crime:Destruction of Property
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1989
Sentence:Not sentenced
Age at the date of reported crime:23
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No