There is something to be learned daily in Chicago with its vast history, and sure enough, driving around Chicago in a white limo with red lettering is a very important public figure when it comes to crime in not only Chicago, but across America. He is important to those who want to abolish the death penalty, but he is also important because of the senseless crime that is happening across America.
On the streets of Chicago, you may stumble upon a white, vintage limo that is scripted with red letters that read “thou shalt not kill,” “love your brother,” and “stop killing one another.” Driving this beast is a man that was granted life after facing death. While the story of Darby Tillis has made it to the history books, his story is still relevant today.
The story of Darby Tillis
Darby Tillis was the only man to be tried five times for a crime, and also one of the first men to be exonerated from the death penalty. In 1977, two white men were shot to death during an armed robbery. Phyllis Santini went to the police three weeks later and claimed Darby Tillis and Perry Cobb committed the crime. After two hung juries, a third jury convicted Tillis and Cobb, sending them to death row. With the lack of evidence, the case was built around Santini’s story. Years later, newly graduated law student Michael Falconer recalled working with Santini and said that she admitted she and her boyfriend Johnny Brown robbed a restaurant and shot someone. It was Falconer’s testimony that led to the acquittal of Tillis and Cobb in 1987.
The judicial error was recognized when Judge Maloney denied a defense witness to testify. Patricia Usmani said that she heard Santini admit that Brown fired the fatal shots, but prosecutors objected to the testimony and the judge granted the request to withhold it from the jurors.
In 2000, Governor George Ryan pardoned Tillis and Cobb, giving them permission to sue for compensation for the nine years they spent behind bars unfairly.
Tillis continues to fight crime
Tillis was not only a victim of crime, he was accused of a crime, and he spends his days educating people on the subject. He has helped Illinois abolish the death penalty, but his work is far from over. Racism, murder, and set-ups are still occurring and Darby’s story continues to carry significance for that reason. His limo is an inspiring reminder to not commit crimes just by seeing his limo preaching against murder, but his presence also reminds people of the issues surrounding crime in America when they hear his story and see him walking the streets. Tillis has dedicated his life to helping others in his situation on death row, and he continues to use his talents as a blues singer to educate audiences on the injustices that occur in the judicial system.