Daniel Andersen, who served 27 years in prison in connection to the 1980 death of Cathy Trunko, will not be retried after his conviction was overturned due to DNA evidence.
The Cook County state’s attorney’s office told Judge Alfredo Maldonado, who had requested a new trial be set for Andersen, that they would not pursue the case.
Trunko, who was aspiring to be an elementary school teacher, was stabbed multiple times in the chest and then left to die on a sidewalk near her home in the summer of 1980.
A knife covered in blood had been recovered about a block away from where Trunko’s body was discovered. Andersen, then 19, was a childhood friend of Trunko and wound up being arrested for disorderly conduct. While spending over 16 hours in custody, Andersen allegedly confessed to the murder and identified the bloody knife as his.
During Andersen’s trial, prosecutors stated that the blood type on the knife was a match to Trunko. Andersen would be found guilty by a jury and received a sentence of 55 years in prison.
However, with the advancement of DNA testing, a recent test was done on the knife after Andersen kept lobbying for a retrial. The DNA test found that the blood on the knife didn’t match Andersen nor Trunko which signified that it couldn’t have been the murder weapon. Additionally, DNA tests were done on skin cells that were found under Trunko’s fingernails – the DNA tests identified two male profiles, however neither matched Andersen.
“I’m relieved I can get on and start living my life without this heaviness on my shoulders,” Andersen, 55, said outside the Leighton Criminal Court Building. “I’m happier, and I just have a better feeling about myself now.”
Andersen’s lawyers are looking to attain a certificate of innocence which would allow Andersen to be eligible to receive a $200,000 payment from Illinois as well as expunge his criminal record from his background.
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