Defense attorneys waiting for final test results in latest Lake County DNA case
Defense attorneys for a man serving 80 years in prison for a grisly murder in North Chicago in January 2000 said they are awaiting final DNA test results before deciding when to file a formal request for a new trial.
David Owens, an attorney for the Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago Law School, said he is specifically waiting for DNA testing to be completed on items of clothing worn by Delwin Foxworth of North Chicago the night he was attacked during a home invasion.
Owens said those test results could be the final piece of the puzzle to help prove Marvin Williford has been wrongfully imprisoned and was not involved in the attack.
"Nothing tested includes DNA from (Williford)," Owens said Tuesday. "But we are still waiting for final test results on the clothes the victim was wearing to be completed."
Williford, 43, of Chicago, was convicted of murder for breaking into Foxworth's residence, beating him with a 2x4, binding him with duct tape, then setting him on fire, officials said.
Before he died, Foxworth told police three men held him at gunpoint and beat him in an effort to get money. The men poured gasoline on him and set him on fire when he failed to meet their demands, police said. Foxworth was able to extinguish the flames and walk to a neighbor's house for help.
He survived for two years but died from his injuries in August 2002 at Loyola University Medical Center.
Williford was arrested in February 2003 and convicted of murdering Foxworth in 2004.
However, Williford's DNA was not on the 2X4, the duct tape or the gas can that were tested, Owens said. Touch samples of DNA recovered from the 2x4 tested this year matched 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 Rivera, 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, Owens said
Owens, along with attorney Jennifer Blagg, said DNA tests done before Williford's trial in 2004 showed Foxworth's shirt contained the DNA of Foxworth and an unknown person. The testing the defense attorneys are waiting for should determine if the unknown DNA matches the same person whose DNA was found on the 2x4, Williford, or a third, unknown person.
"We will have the complete testing soon and go from there," Owens said.
The two sides are due back in front of Judge George Bridges on Jan. 22.