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‘Send my baby home’: Family questions conviction that featured legally blind witness

Nakesha Harris held a framed portrait of her son Darien Harris outside Kim Foxx's office Monday. | John L. Alexander/For the Sun-Times

Nakesha Harris stood on the street outside Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office Monday, with tears in her eyes and her arms wrapped around a framed portrait of her son.

“We are asking, we’re begging, we’re pleading for Kim Foxx and her office to really review this case with unbiased eyes,” said Harris, 41. “Please send my baby home. Do not let me spend another Mother’s Day without my firstborn.”

Harris, who lives on the South Side, said she got the “Greatest Mother’s Day gift of all” when she awoke Sunday to see her son, Darien Harris, on the front page of the Chicago Sun-Times. The story, by Injustice Watch, detailed how Darien Harris, now 26, is attempting to get his conviction in a 2011 murder case overturned based on new evidence that the eyewitness to the shooting was legally blind when he testified.

“My family stands before you this morning, humiliated, heart-broken and hoping for justice,” Nakesha Harris said.

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Dexter Saffold took the witness stand more than five years ago and described the chaos he saw at a South Side gas station in 2011.

Saffold told Cook County Circuit Judge Nicholas Ford that he watched a man shoot and kill one man there and badly wound another.

And he pointed out who did it: Darien Harris, the man in the courtroom wearing the jail jumpsuit.

There was no physical evidence linking Harris to the shooting that left Rondell Moore dead and Quincy Woulard badly hurt.

Still, the judge, hearing the case without a jury, found Saffold persuasive. Ford called him an “honest witness” and said he’d given “unblemished” testimony. Largely based on that testimony, he found Harris guilty and sent him to prison for 76 years for murder.

But what the judge — and the accused — didn’t know was that Saffold had been deemed legally blind years earlier by his doctors and the U.S. government, the result of advanced glaucoma.

The state’s attorney’s office has told Injustice Watch that the case is under review. The office had no additional comment Monday.

Contributing: Emily Hoerner/Injustice Watch