Kevin Allen | April 13, 2019
On March 15, Donald Whalen walked out of the county jail in Bloomington, Illinois, and embraced his family members. After more than 27 years in prison, he was free to enjoy a simple pleasure — dinner at his mother’s house.
Whalen always insisted that he was innocent of murdering his father in 1991, and the Exoneration Project is giving the 52-year-old an opportunity to prove his innocence.
A judge vacated Whalen’s murder conviction in February. Exoneration Project attorneys Elliot Slosar and Tara Thompson successfully argued that DNA and fingerprint evidence discovered since Whalen’s first trial could have helped clear him of the charges.
Whalen was released on bond on March 15 and is awaiting a possible second trial.
Two Notre Dame Law students — Molly Campbell and Alyssa Slaimen — have worked extensively on the case during this academic year. Campbell and Slaimen, both third-year law students, researched complex legal issues, assisted in drafting responses to the state’s motions to dismiss, prepared witnesses to testify, and ultimately conducted their first-ever witness examinations.
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