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7 July 2009 – Mayer Brown, a leading global law firm, today secured dismissal of the case against Marvin Reeves, who was convicted and sentenced to five life terms without parole for the alleged murder of five people in a drug-related crime that occurred 19 years ago.  Also dismissed was the case against his co-defendant, Ronald Kitchen, who was represented by attorneys from the Bluhm Legal Clinic at Northwestern University School of Law.

While there was no physical evidence linking them to the crime, Mr. Reeves and Mr. Kitchen were found guilty in 1988 of murdering two women and three children and setting their house on fire.   The conviction came partially as a result of unsubstantiated testimony of a convict, who was incarcerated at the time of the killings, that Reeves and Kitchen were drug dealers and that Mr. Kitchen admitted in a phone call with him in prison to killing the victims over a drug debt.   No independent evidence was offered at trial that Mr. Reeves ever dealt drugs. 

Mr. Kitchen was sentenced to death for the crime, partially due to the confession he gave after being beaten by Detective Michael Kill, a subordinate of former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge. Commander Burge has been indicted by the US Attorney’s Office in Chicago for perjury related to alleged torture under his command. In addition to this abuse, the defense argued that prosecutors failed to turn over exculpatory evidence during their trials, specifically that, in exchange for his testimony, the witness had been put in work release and his girlfriend was given cash to move into a larger apartment where she could live with the witness.  

Mr. Reeves’ attorney, Mayer Brown partner Michael J. Gill said, “Marvin Reeves lost 20 years of his life because a witness sold false testimony against him for a get out of jail free card and 30 pieces of silver.  Despite that false testimony, Marvin would have had a fighting chances at a trial if the State had disclosed, as it was required, the price it had paid for that testimony.”

Mr. Gill added, “Although no one can give back to Marvin those 20 years, the Attorney General’s decision today is a principled one that gives Marvin the rest of his life.”

Mayer Brown associate David D. Pope also served as counsel to Mr. Reeves.   Mr. Kitchen was represented by Thomas F. Geraghty and Carolyn E. Frazier of the Bluhm Legal Clinic at Northwestern University School of Law.