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Anthony Townsend

Other Cook County, Illinois exonerations
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On April 3, 1997, Chicago police arrested 19-year-old Anthony Townsend and charged him with aggravated unlawful use of a firearm.

On June 11, 1997, Townsend pled guilty to the charge in Cook County Circuit Court. He was sentenced to one year in prison.

In September 2013, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in People v. Aguilar that the portion of the statute under which Townsend had been convicted was unconstitutional. The statute said that a person committed the offense of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon when a person “carries on or about his person or in any vehicle or concealed on or about his person except when on his land or in his abode or fixed place of business any pistol, revolver, stun gun or taser or other firearm and the firearm is uncased, loaded and immediately accessible.”

The court held that portion of the statute violated the right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment.

In 2010, Townsend was charged with a murder during an armed robbery. He was convicted and sentenced to 40 years in prison.

In 2019, Townsend filed a pro se petition seeking to vacate his firearm conviction. On June 1, 2019, the petition was granted, his conviction was vacated, and the charge was dismissed.

On October 8, 2020, Cook County Circuit Court Criminal Division Presiding Judge Leroy Martin Jr. granted Townsend a certificate of innocence. Townsend then filed a claim with the Illinois Court of Claims seeking compensation. In February 2021, Townsend was awarded $30,000.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 12/17/2021
Last Updated: 12/17/2021
State:Illinois
County:Cook
Most Serious Crime:Weapon Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1997
Convicted:1997
Exonerated:2020
Sentence:1 year
Race/Ethnicity:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of reported crime:19
Contributing Factors:
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No