2 men wrongfully convicted in 1993 murder released from prison

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CHICAGO  — Two men who were imprisoned for more than 20 years for a 1993 murder have been released after charges against them were dropped.

43-year-old Armando Serrano was released Wednesday from Dixon Correctional Center west of Chicago and 48-year-old Jose Montanez from Danville Correctional Center in central Illinois. A weeping Montanez said his release was “a long time in coming.”

Serrano’s family and friends greeted him upon his return to the Belmont-Cragin neighborhood in Chicago.
“I’m feeling good. Happy to be home,” Serrano said. “It feels so small after 23 years being incarcerated.”
Serrano’s son, Armando, Jr., was just 5-months-old when Serrano was locked up. Armando, Jr., only knows visiting his father at a maximum security prison.
The Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago took up the case and reveled the men were framed. They found evidence that witness testimony was coerced and fabricated by a notorious former Chicago detective.

“It’s been torture. It’s been hell. I couldn’t explain it in words,” Serrano said.

Cook County prosecutors on Wednesday announced their decision not to retry the men. Prosecutors’ decision came after an appeals court ruling last month found “profoundly alarming acts of misconduct” led to the men’s convictions in the death of Rodrigo Vargas.

The men were convicted on testimony from a man who later recanted. They both have long said they are innocent.

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