November 13, 2012

Julie Rea to discuss the battle to clear her name

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- When Julie Rea was convicted of the brutal 1997 murder of her 10-year-old son, Joel, and sentenced to 65 years in prison, she fought to clear her name.

With help from the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project she was able to do just that.  Rea will share her story at noon on Thursday, Nov. 15, in the courtroom of the Hiram H. Lesar Law Building on the Southern Illinois University Carbondale campus.  The public is welcome to attend the free presentation.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and news crews are welcome to attend Julie Rea’s presentation at noon, Nov. 15, in the Lesar Law Building courtroom.  Although Rea will not be available for interviews, Erica Nichols Cook, staff attorney for the Wrongful Conviction Grant, Illinois Innocence Project, will be on hand to speak with media.  For additional information, contact Cook at or 217/206-8548.

Rea’s story was aired on ABC’s 20/20 shortly after she was sentenced.  Dianne Fanning, author of “Through the Window,” watched.  Her book details the confession of serial killer Tommy Lynn Sells to Joel’s murder and her work led to efforts to exonerate Rea. 

The Downstate Innocence Project worked extensively to corroborate Sells’ confession.  The efforts by those affiliated with the project caused the appellate court to vacate Rea’s conviction and release her from prison.  A second jury acquitted Rea and she subsequently received a Certificate of Innocence. 

The Illinois Innocence Project, as it is now known, is pairing with the SIU School of Law to sponsor Rea’s discussion of her experience.  SIU law Professor William Schroeder and Associate Professor Chris Behan, as well as law students, work with the Illinois Innocence Project.