ANTOINE DAY was a budding musician when his life forever changed. On September 1, 1990, Thomas Peters and James Coleman were shot while shooting craps outside a liquor store on Chicago’s west side at about 1:30 a.mt. The men were taken to a hospital, where Peters died and Coleman was treated and released for a gunshot wound in the back. Day and a codefendant were arrested eight days later after Darrell Gurley, a nephew of Peters and witness to the crime, told police they were the shooters. Both were found guilty and sentenced to concurrent prison terms of 60 years for murder and 25 years for attempted murder.
In 2001 the Illinois Appellate Court granted Day a new trial based on ineffective assistance of counsel. Day’s trial court lawyer, Gay-Lloyd Lott, had failed to present numerous eyewitnesses and alibi witnesses who could have exonerated Day. Also, Lott had failed to effectively cross examine the surviving victim, Coleman, who had told prosecutors before the trial that Day was not involved. On May 8, 2002, the prosecution dropped all charges against Day. In September 2010, Judge Paul Biebel, Jr., presiding judge of the Criminal Division of the Circuit Court, granted Day a certificate of innocence.
While some exonerees stand in the limelight upon release, Day quietly picked up the pieces of his life. He initially took employment in the construction field, and today he is the Outreach Coordinator of Prison Reentry at the Howard Area Community Center Employment Resource Center. In this position, Day mentors at-risk teens and parolees, implements job training and placement programs, and runs neighborhood stabilization and anti-violence programs.
Antoine, along with Jarrett Adams (a fellow LAI exoneree), recently started the Life After Justice Center. The Center’s mission statement is: “To assist exonerees and parolees successfully reenter society. To provide clean, stable housing that acts as a transitional platform through a structured, mentored living environment. To facilitate job training, employment, counseling and other services through the use of outside providers. To connect with the local community and to be a positive contribution to improving the community’s image.” Currently the Center is raising funds and looking for a building in the near-West Chicago neighborhoods. The Center hopes to open its doors in the fall of 2012. For more information about the Center or to find out how you can help, please email the Center at: firstname.lastname@example.org