Murder conviction vacated in 2001 South Side shooting

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Norman McIntosh / Illinois Department of Corrections

Norman McIntosh had just one goal in mind when he and his family sought a place to eat after he was released from prison late Tuesday afternoon after serving 15 years for a gang-related murder he didn’t commit.

“Anything but prison food,” McIntosh said.

The South Sider was released from Stateville Correctional Center after a Cook County judge vacated his 2002 murder conviction earlier in the day, making him the second wrongfully convicted man to be freedfrom the Joliet-area prison in less than a week.

McIntosh’s family wept and hugged one another after Assistant State’s Attorney Celeste Stack asked Judge Evelyn Clay to drop the charges and McIntosh’s 45-year sentence.

McIntosh was found guilty during a bench trial for murder, attempted murder, aggravated discharge of a firearm and aggravated battery, court records show.

Since his conviction, three of the witnesses, including James Hobson — the brother of the dead victim who was also shot — recanted their statements, McIntosh’s attorney Jennifer Blagg said.

Blagg also said she and her defense team had also identified an “alternate” suspect.

“I can’t be mad at the people who identified me because they were forced to by police officers. They didn’t do it on their own,” McIntosh said.

During a brief hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse, Judge Clay apologized to McIntosh’s family for the “errors” tied to the case.

“I’m just so excited today,” McIntosh’s sister Claudette McIntosh, 28, said outside of court, smiling.

Claudette McIntosh said she had packed some clothes for her brother in her car and was ecstatic that he was finally going to see his 14-year-old son.

Norman McIntosh will turn 38 later this month, and the family is planning a party, she said.

More exciting for the family is that Norman McIntosh’s father, who was recently diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer, would be able to get a glimpse of his son as a free man, Blagg said.

“He vowed to hold on until he [Norman McIntosh] got out of jail,” Blagg said.

Norman McIntosh said the first thing he wanted to do was see his father and son.

“It’s unbelievable that I’m free,” he said.“It [prison] works on you because you know you’re innocent and no one is listening. It’s stressful.”

McIntosh is the 16th person whose conviction has been vacated after being reviewed by the Cook County state’s attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit, formed in 2012. Just last week, Mark Maxson — who served 22 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit — was released from Stateville.

According to court filings in the McIntosh case, Devon and James Hobson were shot after they and two others armed with a .22 caliber revolver went to the corner of 71st and Throop to “stick up drug dealers” on Nov. 23, 2001.

James Hobson had initially said they robbed Norman McIntosh after he came up to the group and asked them if they had marijuana. They took $20, some CDs, and a few bags of cocaine, James Hobson had said at trial.

As he was driving away, Norman McIntosh leaned out of the window of the car and said he was aVice Lord and would be right back to kill all of them, James Hobson had originally said.

Later when the pair and two others were walking near the corner of 59th and Honore later that day, Devon Hobson was shot and killed.James Hobson was also wounded in the incident.

The Hobsons’ cousin, Darius Thompson, and Aaron Smith also identified Norman McIntosh as the shooter.

But they now all say they fingered the wrong man because they were pressured by detectives to do so.

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