In 2009, a judge found T.J. was wrongfully convicted of murder and ordered him released. T.J. was free to go skydiving. He visited Wrigley Field. He settled down with a girlfriend and they had two kids. But there was no fairytale ending for T.J. He blew through a multimillion-dollar legal award, buying a fleet of fancy cars and showering money on a gang. And he created a war.
Or did he? A mysterious source tries to set the record straight.
Motive extra features
Get a look at the real-life people and places covered in this episode of “Motive.” Meet T.J., his mother Victoria and the family members, friends and lawyers who tell his story.
Hill Correctional Center
Steven Drizin is the co-director of the Northwestern University Center on Wrongful Convictions and led a legal team that researched T.J.’s murder case. The team concluded that T.J. was innocent and persuaded the Cook County state’s attorney’s office to seek his from prison in 2009.
The Exoneration of Thaddeus Jimenez
This video from Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions shows clips of T.J. walking out of prison on May 1, 2009, and hugging Victoria later at her home. Co-director Steven Drizin and his legal team discuss their work to overturn T.J.’s conviction and what it was like to see him walk out of prison a free man.
Brian Nelson was the leader of the Simon City Royals in prison. He spent the last 12 years of his sentence in solitary confinement in Tamms, a super-max prison in southern Illinois. For 23 hours a day in isolation, he copied the Bible. Tamms is now closed, and Nelson now works as a a law clerk at Uptown People’s Law Center.
An email from “Brian Nelson”
In October 2018, Chicago Sun-Times reporter Frank Main started receiving emails from ‘Brian Nelson.’