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Do Convictions Require More Than Confessions?

They do in the 1st District Appellate Court, where a three-member panel of judges cited witness testimony and physical evidence as the reason for keeping a Chicago man behind bars for weapons offenses. Cops said Anthony Jones admitted owning the gun he’d tossed as they approached him in response to reports of a man matching his description toting a pistol on a busy city street in 2015. Following a bench trial in Cook County Circuit Court, he received seven years as an armed habitual offender.

Jones denied making the statement and appealed the conviction under rules governing corpus delecti — the necessary elements for a case to proceed to trial — claiming that cops had no proof the gun the recovered was his. The appeals panel disagreed, saying the determination of credibility of witness testimony remained a matter of the presiding judge and that absent proof of abuse of that discretion they were powerless to reverse the sentence. They added that while the would-be confession didn’t seal the conviction, police testimony and the presence of a gun at the scene were enough to lead a trier of fact to determine that Jones had jettisoned the weapon as he fled.