EAST ST. LOUIS — Police Chief Michael Floore disputes the story of a 20-year-old man who said he was beaten by police and forced to sign a confession to robbery and rape.
Marlon Miller, of East St. Louis, had been locked up nearly four months, charged with two counts of aggravated robbery and one count of rape. He was released Tuesday from the St. Clair County Jail after DNA test results cleared him.
East St. Louis police had accused and got charges filed against him from the St. Clair County state's attorney's office for allegedly raping a 32 year-old East St. Louis woman when she got off of the MetroLink train at the Emerson Park station at 12:47 a.m. on Feb. 20. Police said he took the woman to a secluded area and raped her.
Miller said that then Detective Orlando Ward hit him and Ward and a person who works for the St. Clair County Sheriff's Department forced him to sign a confession admitting to robbing the unidentified woman. In exchange for his admission, Miller said upon his release, surrounded by family members, that police promised to let him go home, but instead charged him and put him in jail.
"That never happened," Floore said. "We have everything on audio and video tape here. From the time the prisoner is moved from the jail cell to the detective section, we captured it all on tape," Floore said.
Furthermore, Floore said while the video camera is running, prisoners, Miller included, are asked a series of questions and as they respond to them they are checked off.
"We ask them has anyone coerced, promised you anything or threatened you into making this confession? Are you voluntarily making this statement? We ask the prisoner whether anybody put his hands on them. We ask for the prisoner's name, date of birth, address and so on," Floore said.
"All of this is videotaped. I know nobody ever touched this young man. I don't know why he is saying that they did," Floore said.
Floore said Miller admitted to the armed robbery but never admitted to the rape.
Floore also said the St. Clair County jail never would have accepted him into the jail if he had bruises on him. They would have taken him straight to the hospital. "There was nothing wrong with him," Floore said.
Miller said his time behind bars was atrocious. He said he had to fight everyday, and couldn't go on certain blocks in the jail because of what he was charged with. Miller described his ordeal as a bad nightmare. He said his strength came in knowing that he had his family's love and support and knowledge that he never would rape anyone.
His mother, Shelia Young, described her son as very respectful. She criticized Ward, now a former East St. Louis detective who is locked up in a federal holding cell on drug conspiracy charges resulting from a federal investigation.
An uncle, Duane Foster, said his nephew is not the kind of person to rape anyone. So, when he heard what Miller was charged with, he knew the family had to try to get him an attorney to get him out of jail.
St. Clair County State's Attorney, Brendan Kelly, when asked for his reaction to the DNA evidence that cleared Miller of the rape and ultimately the dropping of the aggravated robbery charges against him, said, "As prosecutors, our duty is to get justice, not convictions. Sometimes that duty means dismissing a case, even one as serious as this one, because the evidence demands it."