Fittest loser
Article updated: 9/25/2013 2:11 PM

Starks officially declared an innocent man in rape case

Bennie Starks

Bennie Starks

 
 1 of 1 
 
text size: AAA

Bennie Starks is now, officially, an innocent man.

Lake County Judge George Bridges approved a letter of innocence for the 53-year-old Starks on Wednesday, the final paperwork in clearing his name.

"It feels great," Starks said after leaving court, clearly relieved to have the issue behind him. "It's a good day."

Thus ends Starks' long criminal legal saga, in which the Chicago man spent 20 years in prison after being found guilty of the 1986 rape of a 69-year-old woman in a Waukegan ravine.

Starks was due to spend 60 years in prison for the crime, but a 2006 appellate court decision threw out his conviction when DNA evidence cleared him.

The rape charges against him were dropped in 2011, but prosecutors refused to drop a charge of aggravated battery until earlier this year.

At that time, Lake County State's Attorney Michael Nerheim said the aggravated battery charge was dropped because of the 20 years Starks spent in prison, and was not a determination of his innocence.

Attorney John Stainthorpe said the letter of innocence is important in case Starks files a wrongful imprisonment lawsuit against the county.

"It's important because it's a formal declaration of innocence for Mr. Starks," Stainthorpe said. "It shows that Bennie is innocent of these charges."

Comments ()
We are now using Facebook comments to offer a more inclusive, social and constructive discussion. Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.

This article filed under

Latest Video

MostViewed

Today
Yesterday
Most Commented
Top Jobs

    View all Top Jobs Place a job ad

    MarketsReport

    DHExtras

       
    • Newspaper next section - Newspaper next section Report card checker - report card checker
    • Dh innovation award 2 - Dh innovation award 2 Zillow /real estate page
    • Discuss refer On Guard series
    • Newspaper archives -- Monday or anyday Mike North

    FacebookActivity

    BusinessDirectory

    Connect with a business or service in your area fast. First select a town, then enter a search term or choose one of the listed popular searches:

    Don't see your town listed? Visit our full directory to begin your search.