Man is one step closer to new trial in North Chicago murder
A Chicago man who claims he was wrongfully convicted of a savage North Chicago murder moved one step closer to getting a new trial Tuesday.
Lake County Judge Daniel Shanes denied prosecutors' motion to dismiss Marvin Williford's request for a new trial in connection with the January 2000 slaying of Delwin Foxworth.
The ruling means Williford's attorneys and prosecutors will head to a hearing to determine if there is evidence to support Williford's claims he should be free from his 80-year prison sentence and granted a new trial. A status hearing is set for May 31 to go over ground rules for that hearing.
"It's exciting," said David Owens, an attorney with the Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago Law School, which is representing Williford. "We agree that the state's motion to dismiss a new trial should have been dismissed."
Williford, 43, was convicted by a jury in 2004 of breaking into Foxworth's residence in North Chicago, beating him with a wooden 2x4, tying him up with duct tape and setting him on fire.
Foxworth, who was 39 when he was attacked, was able to extinguish the flames and walk to a neighbor's house where he called for help, police said.
After the attack, Foxworth told police three men held him at gunpoint and beat him in an effort to get money, authorities said. When he failed to meet their demands, the robbers poured gasoline on him and set him on fire, police said.
Foxworth survived for two years before dying at Loyola University Medical Center in August 2002 from his injuries.
Williford was arrested in February 2003 and convicted a year later. He has maintained his innocence throughout his arrest and trial, Owens said.
The case was reexamined in 2014, and DNA testing was performed on the duct tape, gas can and 2X4 used to beat Foxworth. Owens said tests showed none of the items used in the attack carried any trace of Williford's DNA.