Man freed after 17 years sues city over wrongful conviction - Dallas News |

Man freed after 17 years in prison sues city over wrongful conviction

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

A man exonerated after serving 17 years in prison for a 1995 robbery and murder is suing the city and a number of Chicago police officers.

Alprentiss Nash filed the nine-count lawsuit in federal court Tuesday, alleging Chicago police violated the Civil Rights Act and denied him his constitutional rights.

On April 30, 1995 about 1:45 p.m., three masked men entered the home of Leon Stroud, a known bootlegger, in the 11000 block of Wentworth Avenue and robbed him, according to the lawsuit. One of the masked men fatally shot Stroud in the chest.

One of the robbers' masks was left at the scene, but it was never tested for DNA, fingerprints or any other forensic evidence, the lawsuit alleges.

Nash, who was a drug dealer at the time, claims in the lawsuit he had an "airtight" alibi.

He was selling drugs between 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., according to the lawsuit, and two different people confirmed he was shopping for clothes between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.

But a man arrested for the crime, who owed Nash $350 at the time, was bullied into identifying Nash as the murderer, according to the lawsuit. A Chicago Police officer allegedly told the man he would not be charged and would not go to jail if he named Nash as the shooter.

"Seeing an opportunity to quickly resolve a case involving the death of a bootlegger in a poor neighborhood by arresting Nash, a drug dealer from the neighborhood … Defendants conspired to frame Nash," the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit alleges that, although people confirmed Nash was at a clothing store at the time of Stroud's murder, officers coerced witnesses to identify him out of a police lineup.

No physical evidence connected Nash to the crime in any way, but he was sentenced to 80 years in prison, the lawsuit claims.

In 2012, DNA testing on the mask found at the scene exonerated Nash and the Cook County State's Attorney's office overturned the murder conviction, according to the lawsuit and previous Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Nash was wrongfully incarcerated from April 30, 1995 to August 30, 2012, the lawsuit said.

Tuesday's lawsuit alleges Nash's constitutional rights were violated when officers concealed or destroyed evidence, and used coercive and abusive investigative techniques that yielded false information.

The nine-count lawsuit claims fabrication of evidence, malicious prosecution, failure to intervene, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, among other things. It also seeks to hold the city responsible for the officers' actions.

Nash has filed four other previous lawsuits in connection with his wrongful conviction, court records show.

The most recent lawsuit, filed in federal court in August 2013 and voluntarily withdrawn about a month later, was nearly identical to Tuesday's.

The city has not yet been served with the suit, said city Department of Law spokesman Shannon Breymaier, who declined to comment on it Tuesday evening.

Nash is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.

-- Contact: Atty. Kathleen Zellner, (630) 955-1212.

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