A judge agreed Thursday to release a man serving a 20-year sentence for a 1992 rape that DNA tests showed he didn’t commit.
“That’s not justice,” Cook County Circuit Judge Stanley Sacks said of Marlon Pendleton’s imprisonment. “It’s an injustice.”
Sacks vacated Pendleton’s sentence and ordered him released on a personal recognizance bond for a separate sexual assault for which he’s already served the full prison term.
Pendleton appeared stunned by the judge’s ruling, dropping his head and covering his face with his hands — the moment, his attorney said, when it hit him he was going to leave prison.
“He’s been in prison for over a dozen years,” attorney Karen Daniel said. “He’s lost a huge chunk of his life, he’s lost his family. He doesn’t have any money, he doesn’t have a job. It’s not a happy day for Marlon Pendleton.”
Pendleton, 49, must return to Dixon Correctional Center to process paperwork, but, Sacks promised, “It’s your last trip back and forth.”
The judge’s ruling follows an announcement last week that DNA tests ruled out Pendleton as the source of genetic evidence left by the person who attacked and robbed a woman on Chicago’s South Side in 1992.
Pendleton had claimed innocence from the outset. But he was convicted after a police crime lab analyst, whose work has been linked to several wrongful convictions, said there was not enough evidence for DNA testing.
A forensic serologist chosen to analyze evidence by prosecutors and Pendleton’s attorneys was able to develop a profile.
Sacks set another hearing for Dec. 8, when the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office will likely drop the case, spokesman John Gorman said.