Man released from prison after murder charges dropped 29 years later

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CHICAGO — A man who was exonerated for a murder that happened 29 years ago was released from prison.

Demond Weston has been a prisoner for years, but walked out from the Dixon Correctional Center a free man Thursday. He embraced his loved ones just moments after getting out.

"It's much better on this side," he said. "I promise you."

Weston was 17 when he confessed after several hours of questioning by detectives under former disgraced Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge. Weston said the detectives tortured him into falsely confessing. Burge is now deceased.

Special prosecutors agreed the evidence against him did not prove him guilty and vacated his conviction. After an in-depth review of the case, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Angela Petrone made the ruling Wednesday.

Rita Srivastava was one of multiple attorneys from Chicago's Morgan, Lewis & Bockius and paralegal Sarah Watson worked to gain his release.

Weston now sees that the outside world has changed in immeasurable ways. However, he said there is one thing that hasn't changed: "I'm not the first and I'm definitely not the last," he said. Hopefully the other guys' day is coming too."

The Better Government Association said Burge's wrongful conviction settlements have cost the City of Chicago about $551 million.

Weston's first meal as a free man consisted of pizza, fries and Italian beef.

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