- Associated Press - Monday, February 9, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) - A Cook County judge on Monday set aside the murder conviction of a Chicago man who continuously proclaimed his innocence and whose sentence former Gov. Pat Quinn commuted last month.

Tyrone Hood wept and hugged relatives after Judge Neera Walsh acted on a request by prosecutors to void his conviction for the 1993 shooting death of Illinois Institute of Technology basketball player Marshall Morgan Jr. The 51-year-old Hood spent nearly 22 years in prison after his conviction.

“I can’t even describe how I feel right now,” he said after the judge made her ruling.

Walsh also dismissed the conviction of co-defendant Wayne Washington Jr. He had been released from prison several years ago. Prosecutors had alleged Hood and Washington committed the murder during a holdup.

The decision to vacate Hood’s and Washington’s conviction came after more than two years of investigation by the Conviction Integrity Unit of the Cook County state’s attorney’s office. The unit began looking into the case in 2012 after the University of Chicago’s Exoneration Project championed Hood’s innocence.

The men were convicted on witness testimony that was later recanted on claims they were coerced.

“We’re so appreciative of the state for taking the time to reinvestigate the case and reach the right resolution,” said Gayle Horn, Hood’s attorney.

Washington heard about the news from his attorney Monday morning while he was at work two hours away from Chicago.

“He was gleeful, almost crying,” said Washington defense attorney Steve Greenberg. It’s an albatross, a murder conviction around your neck, especially one you didn’t do.”

Attorneys for Hood contend Morgan’s father was a more likely suspect. Marshall Morgan Sr. was struggling financially and took out an insurance policy on his son’s life before he was murdered.

Authorities never charged the elder Morgan in the death of his son, nor for the 1995 murder of a fiancée, whose life he also insured. However, Morgan Sr. was charged and convicted in the 2001 shooting death of a girlfriend and is serving a 75-year sentence.

Cook County state’s attorney’s office spokeswoman Sally Daly says the investigation into Morgan’s death continues and no new charges are pending.

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