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updated: 1/23/2014 9:49 PM

Freed inmates given innocence certificates

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Associated Press

Three people who served lengthy prison sentences in Illinois after confessing to murders they didn't commit received certificates of innocence Thursday from a Cook County judge.

Judge Paul Biebel Jr. issued certificates to Chicago residents Nicole Harris, Daniel Taylor and Deon Patrick, The Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University said.

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Harris served seven years of a 30-year sentence for the 2005 death of her 4-year-old son, Jaquari Dancy, at their northwest Chicago home. A jury found the then-23-year-old Harris guilty of killing her son with elastic from a bedsheet during a fit of rage. Harris said she made the false confession after 27 hours of questioning by police.

In overturning her conviction and ordering her release in February 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Harris' other son should have been allowed to testify that Jaquari strangled himself as he played a "Spider-Man" game while Harris was at a nearby laundry.

Patrick, freed this month, was convicted in 1995 in the deaths of Sharon Haugabook and Jeffrey Lassiter. The 42-year-old Patrick long contended his confession was coerced by police.

Patrick's attorneys argued that the Chicago Police Department's records show Patrick was locked up on a disorderly conduct charge at the time the two were killed in their apartment in 1992. During the trial, prosecutors contended the police lockup records were not accurate.

Daniel Taylor, Patrick's co-defendant, was convicted of the same crime and spent 20 years behind bars before the charges were dismissed last year. Records show he was in police custody at the time of the murders.

The certificates qualify the three for compensation from the state of Illinois.

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