WAUKEGAN, Ill. — Oct 12, 2017, 5:57 PM ET

$9M settlement completed in case of man exonerated of murder

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A man exonerated in a killing for which he spent 15 years in prison has reached a $9 million settlement with investigators in northern Illinois.

Libertyville Village Administrator Chris Clark told the town's board on Tuesday that its insurance cooperative agreed to the settlement with Jason Strong.

"(T)his settlement is made to avoid the uncertainty of the outcome of litigation, the expense in time and money of further litigation and for the purpose of judicial economy," according to the agreement.

Strong was convicted in 2000 of killing Carpentersville resident Mary Kate Sunderlin. Her badly beaten body was found in a forest preserve near North Chicago in 1999. Lake County prosecutors dropped charges in 2015, citing evidence contradicting trial testimony.

Strong was cleared in 2015 after new pathologists' reports undermined crucial elements of authorities' account of the murder, including when the victim died and the nature of her wounds.

Strong received a certificate of innocence from the Lake County court in June 2016.

The lawsuit alleged that law enforcement officials from Waukegan and other members of the Lake County Major Crime Task Force conspired to wrongfully convict him, violating his due process rights and coercing a false confession through an "unconstitutional interrogation."

Strong now lives in Tennessee. He'll get $6 million from the city of Waukegan, a suburb of Chicago, while the remaining $3 million will be come from nine agencies that were part of the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force, which investigated the killing

"Jason is remarkably strong, remarkably resilient and very determined ... about putting this behind him and moving on," said Locke Bowman, the executive director of the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center, which handled Strong's lawsuit.

News - $9M settlement completed in case of man exonerated of murder

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  • siriusthecat

    Did they beat a confession from him? They do carry that reputation in IL. I hope he was at least targeted because he was a bad guy. It's a messed up world when cops can do that to people. They always claim they know the guy did it and then these stories come out. Stop keeping score and meeting quotas and solve crimes. Protect and serve. It's not a competitive sport.

  • USAF Retired

    I hope he spends his money wisely. If so, it will last him a lifetime and far beyond.

  • brickmette

    This case highlights one of the reasons for which the death penalty should be abolished.

  • helicohunter

    Seems fair. I hope he doesn't blow it in a few years.

  • katerant

    Of course he got millions! He's white!

  • snake

    No amount of money can compensate for the loss of 15 years of a persons freedom but hopefully the award will make any prosecuter think twice about doing it again to another defendant in the future.

  • Dicazi

    So now it's a cold case and the true killer might never be found.
    And no money can compensate for 15 years of this man's life.
    Plus, some will never be convinced of his innocence.

  • Eteamer

    I hope he uses the money to go after those who imprisoned him. They are the evil ones.

  • linmarco

    The beggars, attorneys, hucksters, manipulators, friends, relatives, charities, and the ne'er do wells are lined up to steal it outright or get it by other means. There is no favor others will not ask of you.

  • StillThatSameGuy

    Glad it was overturned. Money won't bring back those lost years, but at least he'll be comfortable.
    What was the saying? It's better that ten guilty men go free than to have one innocent man be wrongly convicted.

  • John Spartan

    Good for him!