Jennifer Del Prete said she spent nine years, one month and 26 days in prison after being wrongfully convicted in 2005 of killing a 14-month-old girl in Will County.
She was released from prison on April 30, 2014, and her conviction was overturned in August 2016, but she will appear again in Will County’s state attorney’s office in November for a retrial. .
Wednesday morning, 51-year-old Del Prete was by his father’s side to find out if the trial actually begins Nov. 29, or if the state needs more time to do so. I was in county court. Build that case. Neither she nor her attorney could have predicted what would happen next.Her criminal case, according to the court order and all the charges against her, is that the state is no longer suing her in a new expert opinion. was dismissed on Wednesday after being unable to wake up.
“We both burst into tears,” Del Prete said of her and her father’s immediate reaction. .”
“People have received and submitted Dr. Thomas Bennett’s final expert report,” the dismissal order said. “After careful consideration of the newly obtained expert opinion in this case, together with all other material and opinion evidence, I find that people cannot bear the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. I no longer believe.”
“The matter has been dismissed,” Will County State Attorney’s Office spokesperson Carol Chaney said in an email.
Del Prete was convicted of first-degree murder in the 2003 death of 14-month-old Isabella Zielinski. Authorities have accused Del Prete of shaking a 4-month-old baby at the day care facility where she worked as a caretaker. The baby died about 10 months later.
During her trial, state medical experts testified that Isabella’s injuries may have been inflicted only on the day she became unresponsive, saying the baby had suffered an unexplained brain injury days earlier. Ignored the evidence.
Del Prete is released from prison rear new evidence Among them were notes discovered by journalism students in the Medill Justice Project at Northwestern University. The memo was written by Romeoville’s chief detective who was concerned that pathologists who performed the autopsy disagreed with the theory of shaken baby syndrome.
New evidence led a judge to release her in 2014 and her conviction was overturned in an appeals court in August 2016. The judge ordered a retrial. The Will County state attorney’s office said it would appeal the ruling.
Pat Blegen, lead attorney at local law firm Blegen & Garvey, said Wednesday’s hearing was supposed to be an update on the situation. Bregen said he received the dismissal order and news 10 minutes before the hearing began, he said no one expected something like that to happen that day, but it was “a long time coming.” I was waiting,” he said.
“She literally said ‘Hallelujah!'” Breggen said. “Good. She was overwhelmed with her excitement and happiness.”
He said she cried, Will County Judge Carmen Goodman handed her a tissue in court, and Del Prete heard the judge say “Congratulations and good luck” to her.
“The criminal case is over — it’s over. …She’s been innocent for a long time and is now unindicted,” Bregen said.
“She’s ecstatic,” Joel Murphy, one of her attorneys, said Thursday afternoon. .”
Del Prete said he had not spoken to Isabella’s family for nearly 20 years, but said: “Our hearts go out to the Zielinski family and we wish them peace.” .
After she was released from prison, Del Prete filed a lawsuit against several investigators in her case, including officers from the Romeoville Police Department and the Plainfield Police Department, accusing them of: Conceal evidence and fabricate scientific findings. The case was put on hold when her retrial was scheduled. Now Del Prete said he is ready to “fight to the end no matter what”.
“I’ve been through hell in Will County and I’ll say it 100 times,” she said.
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Chicago-based law firm Loevy & Loevy is handling the Del Prete civil litigation.
Del Prete said the lawsuit was “not about money at the moment” but about the time she lost.
“They can’t replace anything,” she said. “They took away all three brothers’ weddings from me. They took away all but two of my niece’s and nephew’s births. Grandpa’s death, Grandma’s death.” I’ve missed so many milestones with my kids and nothing can make up for what I’ve won.”
She said it was a “blessing” to be out “just in time” to help her daughter’s wedding, now 33, and her son, now 25, “formally come of age.”
Del Prete currently lives in Hanover, Illinois and works as a nighttime auditor for a hotel in Galena. She had planned to travel with her family before her trial next month, but she says she now wants to plan a bigger, longer trip to really celebrate. .
She also said she wants to continue sharing her story and educate people about shaken baby syndrome and what happened to her during her trial.
“It’s been a tough journey that no one realizes because it affected all of us, my whole family, my friends, and so many other people,” she said. You’ve raised me to be a very strong person and I’ve always spoken up and fought for what’s right.Now I’m a free woman.”
https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/breaking/ct-jennifer-del-prete-will-county-case-dismissed-20221007-f4teti36wfg7bdqy6pvysp3awa-story.html#ed=rss_www.chicagotribune.com/arcio/rss/category/news/ Jennifer del Prete released after Will County retrial denied