Wrongly convicted of murder, Wayne Washington’s odyssey to clear his name still isn’t over

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CHICAGO (TAUT) — Wayne Washington lived in limbo.

He was released from prison in 2007. A few years later, his murder conviction was overturned – a conviction he had been fighting for more than two decades.

His slate was finally wiped clean.

Or so he thought.

“They say, well, yeah, he’s not guilty, but he’s just not innocent,” Washington said.

“It was a harsh reality when I tried to get a job. They fired him and I didn’t pass the background check.”

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Let’s go back to May 17, 1993.

The body of a man matching the description of a missing student was found in the back seat of a car at 57th Street and Michigan Avenue.

Marshall Morgan, Jr., 20, an outstanding basketball player from the Illinois Institute of Technology, had been shot.

TAUT 2 Vault: Mike Parker reports the murder of Marshall Morgan Jr.:


TAUT 2 Vault: Honor Student Marshall Morgan Jr. Found Dead in Car

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TAUT 2 Vault: John Davis reports on the investigation the next day:


TAUT 2 Vault: Investigation into the 1993 murder of Marshall Morgan Jr.

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Investigators ended up focusing on two people.

Tyrone Hood, 29, whose TAUT was found on a bottle inside Morgan’s car, and Wayne Washington, 20.

Washington’s only connection to the case was that he offered Hood an alibi. He said investigators didn’t listen to him.

“They never asked me about an alibi,” Washington said. “Did I see him last night?”

The police considered him a suspect and not a witness.

Washington was questioned by two detectives who have since been repeatedly accused of extracting confessions from suspects. Both deny beating anyone.

He said he was beaten into signing a confession statement drawn up by detectives.

Washington said he was branded a “murderer, car thief, armed robber, drug dealer, drug user, gang member, gang leader, you know, overnight.”

In reality, he was none of that. The jurors in his trial didn’t see it that way either.

His trial ended in a hung jury and he only went to jail because of a decision he made afterwards.

His co-defendant was found guilty and sentenced to 75 years in prison for Morgan’s murder.

So Washington, fearing that kind of punishment if convicted in a new trial, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 25 years.

“I calculated how long I would have to do in the penitentiary,” he said. “I would have been 32. So it wouldn’t be the life I wanted to live. But I still have a chance to live, unlike 50-60-75 years later.”

Washington served his sentence and was released when his sentence ended in 2007.

And it was only after his release that his innocence became much more apparent.

In 2013, TAUT 2 investigators began investigating Marshall Morgan Sr.

That’s right, the father of Marshall Morgan Jr.

Morgan Sr. took out a life insurance policy on his girlfriend months before her murder in 1995.

When she was killed, he collected $107,000.

He had done the same for his son two years earlier.

Morgan Sr. took out a $50,000 life insurance policy on Morgan Jr. just before he died.

What about the bottle with the fingerprints of Washington and co-defendant Hood?

Well, there was a lot of random junk in the car.

And Hood’s attorneys said it was likely because Morgan Sr. was a janitor at the nearby high school — where he had access to a lot of public trash.

TAUT 2 Vault: Investigator Dave Savini reports what we learned about Marshall Morgan Sr. in 2013:


TAUT 2 Vault: Families say poor work by authorities allowed man to keep killing

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“From any objective view, it was clear that the father had killed his son for the insurance money,” Washington attorney Steve Greenberg said.

Washington’s condemnation was therefore erased, as if nothing had happened.

“When they overturned a conviction and said I was not guilty of this crime, that seemed like a major achievement,” Washington said. “But that’s only half the accomplishment when you punch me in the computer or google me, and that’s what comes out.”

Washington’s background check still shows his conviction because he does not have a certificate of innocence.

Basically, it’s one more step – it indicates that you should never have had a folder to begin with.

Hood has one.

But Washington did not. After appealing that decision, the First District Court of Appeals said it was because in 1993 he pleaded guilty.

“I don’t have the certificate,” Washington said. “It’s a local hurdle right now. If you run a background check on me a few days ago just to be a chaperone at my daughter’s school for a field trip. And I can’t do that because I can’t pass a background check because it’s still in my file.”

It’s hard to imagine – fighting for your innocence, your life, your reputation and going as far as Washington has in the last 29 years to hit the biggest roadblock yet.

He wants to work. He wants a good job.

But can you blame the recruiters for doing a double take when they see a murder on his record?

“I just don’t understand that you’re not guilty, but in our eyes you’re not innocent,” Washington said.

Washington and his legal team took the issue all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Because he is not alone.

In recent years, Illinois has consistently led the nation in wrongful convictions.

According to a 2020 case, 18% of all exonerated pleaded guilty.

TAUT 2 has learned that the Illinois Supreme Court has agreed to take up Washington’s case. His request for a certificate of innocence – and the decision in this case could have implications for the cases of other exonerated people here in Illinois.

Of course, we will follow this case closely.

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