People who try to clear the names of the wrongfully convicted are bringing the case of Grover Thompson to the forefront. The Downstate Illinois Innocence Project is bringing attention to Thompson, who died in prison in 1996. The Prisoner Review Board is considering whether to recommend a posthumous clemency for Thompson, who was convicted of killing Ida White in Mount Vernon in 1981. Petitioners argued their case before the Prisoner Review Board Wednesday in Springfield.
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Retired Carbondale police investigator Paul Echols connected another man to the White murder. Echols was investigating a cold case – that of Southern Illinois University student Deborah Shepard – when he came across Timothy Krajcir. Eventually, Krajcir confessed to nine murders and numerous other crimes in Illinois, Missouri, and Kentucky. Echols says Krajcir confessed to killing White. “There’s certainly a whole series of things that ultimately led to a conviction with no physical evidence, and based upon what I certainly believe was a faulty eyewitness testimony,” Echols said. Thompson died in prison in 1996. His nephew, S.T. Jamison Jr., was also at the clemency hearing Wednesday. Jamison said his uncle’s conviction destroyed his trust in the judicial system but the work of people like Echols is restoring his faith. “There are people out there who are watching. There are people out there who are concerned that all people no matter who they are their economic background, their gender, class, what have you… will get justice,” Jamison said. Echols collaborated with several third-year SIU Carbondale law students and the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project to help get Thompson a clemency hearing. Larry Golden of the Innocence Project said he doesn’t expect the governor’s decision for a few months.