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updated: 4/30/2014 10:20 PM

Judge frees woman convicted in toddler's death

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Associated Press

A woman who's spent nearly a decade in a prison for the death of a 14-month-old girl in Will County has been freed by a federal judge.

Jennifer Del Prete was convicted in 2005 for the murder of Isabella Zielinski. Prosecutors contended Del Prete violently shook the little girl at a Romeoville day care center. She was given a 20-year sentence.

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On orders from U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly, the 43-year-old Del Prete was released Wednesday from Logan Correctional Center.

Kennelly wrote the woman's case was "exceptional and deserving of special treatment" because she has "substantial" evidence of innocence. He said it could take years for her to clear her name.

Will County State's Attorney spokesman Charles Pelkie said last week prosecutors remain confident in their case against Del Prete.

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