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posted: 5/30/2012 12:01 AM

James Edwards officially cleared in 1994 Waukegan murder case

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  • James Edwards

    James Edwards

  • Hezekiah D. Whitfield

    Hezekiah D. Whitfield


James Edwards had his name cleared Tuesday in the 1994 slaying of a Waukegan business owner.

Lake County Deputy State's Attorney Jeff Pavletic said his request was granted at a hearing to have the murder charge dismissed. Lake County Circuit Judge John Phillips presided over the hearing, which was continued from last Friday.

Edwards was imprisoned in 1996 after he was convicted of slaying Waukegan business owner Fred Reckling, 71. Edwards was convicted of beating Reckling to death based on a signed confession.

But the murder charge dismissal won't lead to freedom for Edwards, 63. He'll remain in Menard Correctional Center in downstate Chester, convicted in unrelated crimes including a 1996 armed robbery for which Edwards was jailed when he was charged in the Reckling slaying.

Authorities recently announced DNA evidence led them to Hezekiah D. Whitfield, 42, of Chicago, who's been charged with six counts of first-degree murder in the beating death of Reckling in his Grand Appliance store in 1994.

Last year, Edwards filed a federal lawsuit alleging Waukegan police officers physically and psychologically abused him during the 26 hours between his arrest and signature on a typed confession.

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