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updated: 6/18/2014 1:34 PM

Additional DNA tests ordered in 2000 North Chicago murder case

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DNA testing has been approved for more items recovered at the scene of a grisly 2000 murder in North Chicago to help determine if the man convicted of the killing may be innocent, authorities said Wednesday.

During a brief status hearing in front of Judge George Bridges, Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Ari Fisz said prosecutors have been in daily contact with defense attorneys for Marvin Williford, 43, of Chicago, who is serving an 80-year prison sentence after being convicted in 2004 of killing Delwin Foxworth.

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Fisz said the state's attorney's office has agreed to additional DNA testing on items recovered, and he will report the results Aug. 6.

After the brief hearing, Fisz said he was unable to provide details about the items to be tested because he did not want to "compromise the investigation."

Williford was convicted of killing Foxworth during a robbery of the North Chicago man's residence in January, 2000. During the attack, Foxworth was beaten with a 2x4, bound with duct tape and set on fire, officials said.

Foxworth survived the attack, but died in 2002 from his injuries.

Touch samples of DNA recovered from the 2x4 were not from Williford, authorities said, but did match a DNA sample taken from the 1992 murder of Holly Staker in Waukegan.

Staker, 11, was found stabbed, raped and strangled inside a Waukegan apartment where she baby-sat. Juan Rivera, formerly of Waukegan, spent 20 years in prison for Staker's murder after he was convicted by three juries.

DNA evidence eventually exonerated him, and he was released from prison in January 2012. No one else has been charged with the crime since Rivera's release.

Like Rivera, Williford has long maintained his innocence and never confessed to the crime, said defense attorney David Owens of the Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago Law School. Depending on the additional test results, a new trial may be in order, Owens said.

Lake County State's Attorney Michael Nerheim said previously he agreed to the additional DNA testing, and the case will remain under review by the office's new case review team.

Should evidence conclusively show Williford did not kill Foxworth, Nerheim said, he will push to have Williford released.

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