Another step in Steven Linscott’s quest for permanent freedom is complete. In July, the Illinois Appellate Court ruled two-to-one that the case be retried. Prosecutors, however, have appealed that ruling to the Illinois Supreme Court.
In 1982, the 33-year-old former Bible college student was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the 1980 murder of Karen Phillips, a 24-year-old nursing student (CT, Feb. 4, 1983, p. 42). A jury found Linscott guilty largely because he had told police about a dream that bore similarities to the actual crime. Linscott had the dream the same night Phillips was murdered just a few blocks from his apartment in Oak Park, Illinois. A few days after police combed the neighborhood looking for leads, Linscott went forward to tell investigators about his dream. They concluded he was the killer.
In a two-to-one decision in 1985, the Illinois Appellate Court overturned Linscott’s conviction, the majority concluding there was insufficient evidence to establish guilt. Linscott was released on bond and has been free for almost two years.
Last October, the Illinois Supreme Court overruled the appellate court’s ruling of insufficient evidence. It returned the case to the appellate court for consideration of issues related to the fairness of the trial. In what Linscott’s supporters regard as a favorable sign, the Supreme Court allowed Linscott to remain free on bond despite prosecutors’ efforts to return him to prison.
In remanding the case to a lower court for retrial, the appellate court’s majority stated essentially that prosecutors had lied to the jury during closing arguments in the original trial. According to the opinion, “[t]he prosecutor’s choice of words was ...1
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