CHICAGO, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Northwestern University's Medill Innocence Project arranged a visit from a female student as a "treat" for a prisoner, prosecutors allege.
Illinois prosecutors say the visit and a possible offer of unspecified promises were made before the prisoner recanted his testimony in a 1993 murder and armed robbery case, the Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday.
Authorities produced three memos and an e-mail sent by students of Northwestern journalism professor David Protess to an attorney representing convicted murderer Armando Serrano, who is seeking a new trial.
The memos include suggestions that Francisco Vicente, who testified against Serrano but later recanted to the students, was upset that a private detective who works with Protess failed to make good on unspecified "considerations."
The e-mail, sent by a student investigating the Serrano case, said a female former student agreed to join a visit to Vicente in prison after he requested her presence.
"(The woman), a previous student of David's who worked on the case and formed a good relationship with (Vicente), will accompany us as a 'treat' for him, since he has requested to see her again," the student wrote in an e-mail to Serrano's lawyer.
The state is arguing it is entitled to all memos compiled by students during the investigation, not just those turned over to attorneys from the university's Center on Wrongful Convictions.
Protess said he was unaware of the e-mail describing the female former student as a "treat."
"If I did see it, I would have told the student that that was inappropriate," said Protess, who accused the state of trying to divert attention from questions about Serrano's conviction.