6 – Joseph Burrows (Convicted in 1989)
Burrows almost suffered the ultimate penalty for his alleged crime of murdering William Dulin. The body of the 88-year old retired farmer was found at his home near Kankakee, Illinois on November 8, 1988. Several hours after the murder, a man named Chuck Gullion was arrested in a car with Gayle Potter who was a cocaine addict. Gullion tried to cash a check worth over $4,000 in Dulin’s name at the Iroquois Farmer’s State Bank. Potter admitted to the crime of forging the check and said she was involved in the crime with Joseph Burrows and Ralph Frye. Potter then claimed that Burrows was Dulin’s killer.
Not only was Potter’s blood found on the scene after she suffered a gash during a struggle with Dulin, but she also owned the murder weapon. There was no physical evidence to link her two so-called accomplices to the crime, and there were four witnesses who said that Burrows was 60 miles away at the time of the murder. So why was Burrows convicted? First of all, Frye lied and agreed with Potter’s story and the two of them elected to testify against Burrows in exchange for lighter sentences. As it happened, Potter received 30 years in prison and Frye was given a 23-year sentence.
Although he forged the check, Gullion was never prosecuted. Meanwhile, Burrows’ first trial ended with a hung jury. In the second trial, he was convicted and sentenced to death. In 1992, the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and death penalty, but Frye recanted his testimony to a reporter. Frye, who had an IQ of 75, claimed that the police coerced him into testifying against Burrows. The lawyers who represented Burrows found a letter from Potter to a friend where she asked the person to lie and testify that Burrows was in a blue pickup truck; this is the story Potter had told at the time.
When faced with the letter, Potter admitted that she falsely accused the other two men to save her own skin and wanted Burrows to take the fall because she mistakenly believed he had stolen goods from her trailer. She admitted to the murder of Dulin during a robbery. Burrows received a new trial and the prosecution’s attempts to appeal failed. On September 8, 1994, Burrows was released from prison. He later received $100,000 in a settled civil suit. In 2005, he was convicted of another crime and spent 3 years in prison. Burrows died on October 15, 2009; he was 56 years of age.