ROCKFORD – A northern Illinois man who spent 23 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit is suing the city of Rockford and more than 20 current and former police officers.
John Horton, 42, filed a wrongful conviction lawsuit Thursday in U.S. District Court in Rockford, the Rockford Register Star reported. The lawsuit alleges that Horton was convicted after police "manipulated witnesses, fabricated evidence and withheld evidence that would have demonstrated Horton's innocence."
Rockford's legal director, Nick Meyer, didn't immediately respond to the newspaper's request for comment. All but one of the officers named in the lawsuit have retired from the department. Two officers named in the suit are dead.
Horton was imprisoned for the 1993 armed robbery and slaying of Arthur Castaneda at a Rockford restaurant. Horton was 17 when he was convicted in 1995 and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
The lawsuit, which doesn't specify the damages it is seeking, alleges that police officers coerced Horton into an involuntary false confession "after hours of illegal interrogation." It alleges that such practices were "widespread" because of a lack of training and supervision.
The Illinois Appellate Court ruled in 2016 that Horton could have a new trial because authorities didn't disclose some information to his defense attorney. Prosecutors dropped the charges against Horton last year.
Clifton English Jr. has confessed to committing the crime. English hasn't been charged in the Castaneda case, but he's serving a more than 60-year sentence for a separate killing.
Information from: Rockford Register Star, http://www.rrstar.com