Jason Gray - Wrongly incarcerated for 20 years

On November 7, 1986, there was a party of approximately 50 people in the basement of the Bodencak home in Chicago. At approximately midnight, a shooter pushed open the door of the basement and open fired into the room. The shooter fired multiple times killing three people, two of which were gang members.

The case relied on one 13-year old witness, Joann “Holly” McGuire Campbell. The night of the incident, Holly initially told the police she did not see anything happen. After speaking with a friend the same night, she told police she saw Jason Gray shoot into the party. Holly later identified Gray, a white male, in a line-up composed of nine other Hispanics boys.

Holly made conflicting statements in court about whether she saw Gray’s face that night or whether she identified him because of a neighborhood rumor. Since Gray was convicted, two men who testified against him have recanted. In addition, another individual, Manuel Bobe, charged with the same crime, signed a statement implicating himself as the shooter. Bobe has since signed an affidavit stating Grey was not involved.

The jury that convicted Gray did not hear from any of his alibi witnesses, or from witnesses who pointed to a group of Hispanic youths as suspects. Judge Fred Suria, who had long expressed reservations about the Gray case, vacated the conviction in 2004, saying there was “a reasonable possibility that a jury today would, based on the facts as I know them … enter a different verdict.” Judge Suria granted Gray a new hearing. The Illinois Supreme Court granted his release on bail in March of 2006.

Since his release from Stateville Correctional Center, Gray has found a job in the IT department of a commodities trading firm and has married his childhood sweetheart.