Federal jury awards $27 million in damages to man acquitted in 1993 Chicago fire


Adam Gray was 14 years old when he was arrested in connection with a fatal fire in March 1993, but after being acquitted after serving 24 years in prison, he was awarded $27 million by a federal jury for wrongful imprisonment. awarded compensation.

Gray was found guilty in connection with the fire that killed 74-year-old Margaret Mesa and 54-year-old Peter McGuinness. He was convicted of first-degree murder and aggravated arson, but a series of events forced prosecutors to confess and concluded that physical evidence from the scene did not link him to the fire. He was acquitted in 2017.

Gray was sentenced to life in prison without parole, but was released in 2017 after prosecutors overturned the conviction.

He later filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in connection with the incident.

according to National Not Guilty RegisterA 14-year-old girl told police she had been threatened by Gray before the fire. Another person told police he saw a teenager fleeing the building with a white bag. She identified Gray in the lineup, but she didn’t say she knew him.

A third person reported selling gray gasoline and red gasoline jugs before the fire.

In the early hours of March 25, 1993, McGuinness and Mesa were killed in a fire near the rear steps of an apartment building on Chicago’s South Side.

Police located Gray after the fire and interrogated him for seven hours before confessing. He later recanted his confession, prosecutors said, succumbing to police pressure.

A person who said Gray bought gas and a milk jug before the fire also withdrew his ID, saying he had been under pressure from police. She said she was told by police that she had misidentified someone in the lineup, after which she left her ID when she identified Gray.

Witnesses who told police that Gray threatened her also recanted, saying they were “directed” by police and prosecutors.

Other chemical evidence cited by prosecutors, such as “crocodile char” and “high-boiling petroleum distillates,” were also questioned by further studies, the former being present when chemical accelerators are used. and the latter was dismissed due to its regular presence in the home. Chemicals and ignition difficulties, according to the National Liability Register.

Following new testimony and evidence, the prosecution requested a retrial, which was denied by the judge. In 2017, prosecutors and lawyers agreed to dismiss the case and vacate the conviction.


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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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