A third man had his murder charges dropped in the killing of two teenage girls in a 1995 gang-related attack on the Southwest Side.
After the Illinois Appellate Court ordered Wayne Antusas’ 54-year prison sentence be vacated Thursday, Cook County prosecutors dropped the charges against him, court records show.
Antusas had initially been sentenced to life in prison for the murders of Carrie Hovel and Helena Martin, both 13. But that sentence was reduced following a U.S. Supreme Court decision that banned life sentences for defendants who were sentenced as minors.
Antusas Thursday was ordered released from prison after prosecutors dropped the charges, according to court records.
His attorneys could not be reached for comment and a spokeswoman from the state’s attorney’s office said she could not comment on the matter due to ongoing civil litigation.
Last year, Cook County Judge Timothy Joyce denied Antusas’ request to vacate his conviction, even though prosecutors said they would drop the charges against him if his conviction were overturned because they lacked confidence in the case. Antusas’ attorneys appealed Joyce’s decision.
The teenage victims were killed when 15-year-old Eric Anderson — the son of a Chicago police officer — fired at a rival gang member’s van.
Anderson said he fired his weapon because Matt Sopron — who Anderson claimed was a leader in the Almighty Popes street gang — ordered him to do so.
Sopron was was cleared of the double murder and released from prison two years ago after it was revealed that several witnesses admitted to lying and recanted their testimonies.
Based on those revelations, both Antusas, now 41, and Nicholas Morfin, 45, who were accused of being involved in the planning of the attack, also sought to have their convictions tossed out.
Last month, charges were dropped against Morfin after Cook County Judge Arthur Hill Jr. vacated Morfin’s conviction on the basis that prosecutors had withheld evidence that could have exonerated him. However, Hill also stated he did not believe Morfin had proven his innocence.
Antusas, Sopron and Morfin each spent at least two decades in prison.