Exoneration Project 

Demetrius Johnson smiled broadly as he walked out of the county’s main criminal courthouse Friday and headed home for a celebratory bubble bath.

It was a pivotal day for Johnson. The 44-year-old, who went to prison for 12 years as a teenager for murder, became the 20th person to be exonerated based on allegations he was framed by retired Chicago Police Detective Reynaldo Guevara.

Earlier this year, it came to light that an eyewitness account implicating another person in the fatal 1991 Wicker Park shooting had been concealed from prosecutors and defense attorneys.

A Cook County judge vacated Johnson’s conviction in November, leaving it up to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office to retry the case — although Johnson had served his sentence and couldn’t be sent back to prison — or drop the case altogether.

A prosecutor with the state’s attorney’s office Friday informed Judge Dennis J. Porter that the state’s attorney’s office had decided to drop all charges.

“It’s an out-of-body experience,” Johnson said after the hearing. “I felt like I had a gorilla on my back.” 

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