- Associated Press - Saturday, May 31, 2014

ELGIN, Ill. (AP) - An Illinois appeals court has ordered a new trial for a man convicted of fatally shooting a suburban Chicago boy as he slept in his grandparents’ home.

The Second District Appellate Court on Friday vacated the conviction of Mark Downs in the 1996 slaying of 6-year-old Nicholas “Nico” Contreras of Aurora.

The (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald reports (http://bit.ly/1ru928M ) that attorneys for Downs convinced the court that the trial judge erred while answering a question from the jury about the definition of reasonable doubt.

Downs has been serving a 70-year prison sentence. He was convicted in 2009 of first-degree murder.

Downs maintains he is innocent and that a witness who testified against him pulled the trigger.

Prosecutors say Downs and two other men were intending to target the boy’s uncle.


Information from: Daily Herald, http://www.dailyherald.com