Three men are going back to trial for a murder case that’s had them in and out of prison.

Anthony Ross, Tyjuan Anderson and Lumont Johnson were convicted of firing shots at a Chestnut Street home in April of 2002, killing 8-year-old DeMarcus Hanson.

In 2013, a judge threw out the guilty verdicts upon receiving new evidence that suggested that the men were framed by Hanson’s uncle, Alex Dowthard.

Dowthard and the three defendants were members of rival gangs. The prosecution contended that Ross, Anderson and Johnson had gone to Dowthard’s house on the night of the shooting, in retaliation for an earlier disagreement with Dowthard. 

“There were four shots fired directly into the west-side bedroom where little DeMarcus was sleeping. Those bullets entered the home and one of those bullets entered DeMarcus’ head,” said Marilyn Hite Ross, Chief of the Criminal Bureau for the Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office.

The prosecution hoped to prove that Hanson was killed in the crossfire between the defendants and Dowthard. 

Dowthard was subsequently sent to prison on a parole violation. While in prison, Dowthard allegedly made comments, during recorded phone conversations, purporting that he was not at home on the night in question. 

“Alex Dowthard was desperate to free himself from prison, and would say anything to get out,” said Elliott Slozar, Defense Attorney.

The defense believes Dowthard was coerced by police to fabricate testimony against the three men in exchange for an early release.

“Dowthard was promised significant consideration in exchange for falsely implicating these three men,” said Slozar.

With the original verdict thrown out, the defendants were released from prison in 2013. The case is now being re-tried. Prosecutors say their argument will prove Ross, Anderson, and Johnson are responsible for Hanson’s death.

“We will be asking the court to find them guilty as charged,” said Hite Ross.

Dowthard is expected to take the stand on Tuesday.