May 25, 2017
By: Brian J. Vickers
It has been more than 16 years since Edward Shealy, along with 11 other jury members, voted to convict Jonathan Tolliver for the murder of Chicago Police Officer Michael Ceriale. Through Shealy’s Christian faith, over the years he’s found conviction in his heart, that he helped perpetuate a gross miscarriage of justice; thus, sending an innocent man to prison for a crime he did not commit.
During jury deliberations, Shealy looked out the window, and kept thinking, “with the evidence presented, how can I vote to convict Tolliver for the murder of Ceriale?” In Shealy’s opinion, the prosecution was intent on making sure someone was convicted of shooting the Officer. Moreover, Shealy wishes he could have been able to keep his notes. Which would have allowed him to go back and see, there was no real proof presented by the prosecution, that Tolliver killed the Officer.
Shealy vividly recalls, during deliberations, all of the white jury members seemingly wanted to render a guilty verdict against Tolliver. The verdict of guilty from all of the white jury members, was based solely on the fact that Tolliver was a poor-black-kid from Robert Taylor housing complex, a/k/a “the projects,” who also was involved in gang activity.
After five-and-a-half-hours of deliberating, Shealy gave in, and the Jury convicted Jonathan Tolliver for the murder of Officer Michael Ceriale. Shealy knew in his heart he had not done the right thing by saying “yes” to the guilty verdict. As Shealy looks back on the Tolliver re-trial, he wishes he would have had the courage to vote to acquit Tolliver, despite the immense pressure put on him by his peers.
Shealy plans to write Tolliver and ask for his forgiveness. Shealy knows, because of his lack of gumption, he helped wrongfully convict Tolliver. If Tolliver chooses not to forgive Shealy, he would understand. If Tolliver does find it in his heart to forgive Shealy, it would show the growth and character of a great man Tolliver has become since his incarceration.