Chicago man suing for a wrongful murder conviction is charged with attempted murder

Ten years ago, William Dukes was convicted of murdering a woman and her 8-year-old granddaughter in suburban Chicago. But the conviction was overturned in 2014, and he was acquitted after a new trial in 2019. Now, Dukes is suing for wrongful conviction and he’s trying to secure a “certificate of innocence” from a Cook County judge.

Dukes has a new legal issue, too. Prosecutors on Friday accused him of raping and trying to kill a woman he recently allowed to live in his spare bedroom after she lost housing.

During a prolonged sexual assault last Thursday, Dukes held a knife to the victim’s throat and threatened to “cut her into little pieces so that she would never be found,” Assistant State’s Attorney Sara Whitecotton said Friday.

William Dukes in an archived sheriff’s office mugshot and his current mugshot from Chicago police. | CCSO; CPD

She said the woman eventually bit Dukes’ penis in an effort to end the attack, but he became enraged and choked her until she passed out. When she regained consciousness, Dukes’ hands were still on her throat, and he told her she was “lucky” that she woke up, Whitecotton said.

The victim slipped out of the house and flagged down a passing Chicago police sergeant after Dukes fell asleep on the couch.

1993 murders

In August 1993, someone suffocated Marilyn Williams and raped and strangled her 8-year-old granddaughter, Bridget Cannady, in Williams’ Cicero apartment. Williams had been babysitting Bridget, and the girl’s mother discovered their bodies in the apartment bathtub.

A man named Marko Tomazovich rented a downstairs apartment from Williams. Dukes rented a room from Williams, too. For a short time, he dated Bridget’s mother, Lucy Rhynes, the Chicago Tribune reported in 1998. Both men had growing criminal records. From the Tribune report:

In the ensuing months [Bridget’s 2-year-old brother] Dustin … told his mother … that Dukes hurt Bridget, that he made Bridget cry, that he put a pillow over Grandma’s face, the reports show.

One day, Rhynes found Dustin choking his teddy bear. She was so horrified she couldn’t move.

“This is what happened to Bridget,” he said.

Prosecutors charged Tomazovich with murder, sexual assault, and other charges that year. They charged Dukes in 2004, and Tomazovich soon cut a plea deal, agreeing to testify against Dukes and plead guilty to home invasion.

Eight years later, in 2012, Dukes was sentenced to life in prison.

But an Illinois appellate court overturned Dukes’ conviction in 2014, saying the judge should not have allowed the jury to hear admissions Dukes allegedly made while negotiating a plea deal, according to a contemporaneous Tribune report.

Dukes received a new trial and was acquitted in 2019, according to federal court records. He filed a petition for a certificate of innocence in July 2021. That matter is still pending, with a hearing scheduled for December 15 before Judge Erica Reddick.

Also in July 2021, Dukes filed a federal lawsuit against the cities of Chicago and Cicero, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, a state’s attorney investigator, and detectives from the Chicago and Cicero police departments. The suit claims investigators fabricated a police report, falsified statements, created a false confession, failed to advise Dukes of his right to remain silent, and ignored Dukes’ demands for an attorney.

He is currently being held without bail on the new attempted murder and sexual assault allegations.

In an especially tragic side note, Dustin Rhynes, was fatally shot in downstate Centralia in 2015. He was 24.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com