White Sox groundskeeper Nevest Coleman has recently been the topic of many national news stories. His is an all-too-common story with the twist of a happy ending that includes exoneration. Coleman was working for the White Sox in 1994 as a respected member of the grounds crew.

Coleman was one of three men charged in the death of a woman he found in the basement of the building he lived at in Chicago’s South Side. Coleman, who had no criminal record, was interrogated for 12 hours by police and repeatedly claimed his innocence. Coleman initially went to the police to report the death; nevertheless, he was charged and sentenced for 30 years.

According to attorneys at The Innocence Project, the police told him that he could go free if he answered their questions. Coleman then signed a statement that implicated himself and two others in first-degree murder and aggravated criminal sexual assault. One of the other two went free, but Coleman and the other man were convicted even though there was no forensic evidence.

The police deny they coerced a confession, despite claims by Coleman of getting punched in the face. The same team of interrogating officers is now known for coercing false confessions in a number of cases.

Saved by modern science

Fortunately, modern DNA testing of semen from the crime scene exonerated Coleman and the other man, who were released in November of 2017. There are many other cases of wrongful convictions coming to light now that science is sometimes able to clear them up.

A strong legal defense can make a difference

Coleman has returned to work at Guaranteed Rate Field, but not every employer would be so understanding about hiring someone back even if they were proved innocent. This is a glaring example of why it is important to insure that those facing charges consult with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.

Even with DNA testing, it’s quite possible that Coleman would still be in jail today if it wasn’t for the hard work of The Innocence Project. It’s further proof that the right attorney can make a difference in your criminal case.