Man wrongfully convicted of 1999 murder sues Lake County officers

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Sun-Times file photo

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A man who spent 15 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of a 1999 murder filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against the Lake County officers who sent him to prison.

Jason Strong filed the suit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago against the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force, Lake County, and several north suburban jurisdictions and officers.

Strong served 15 years in the Menard Correctional Center for the death of an unidentified woman found beaten in a Lake County forest preserve on Dec. 9, 1999, according to the Bluhm Legal Clinic’s Center on Wrongful Convictions. She remained unidentified until 2006, when she was found to be Mary Kate Sunderlin.

Strong, then 24, was arrested 11 days after the body was discovered and gave a confession using information given to him by the investigating officers, according to the suit.

All charges against Strong were dropped on May 28, 2015, after it was found that the confession was inconsistent with the physical evidence and he was released. The Circuit Court of Lake County issued Strong a certificate of innocence last month.

The 11-count lawsuit claims the officers conspired to send him to prison. It seeks an unspecified amount in damages.

A spokesman for the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force said they had not received the lawsuit Tuesday afternoon and declined to comment.

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