Ronald Kitchen: The Man Who Was Exonerated

Learn about a Ronald Kitchen, who spent the better part of 20 years behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit. Ronald Kitchen was once an Illinois death row inmate for a crime that happened back in 1988. Kitchen was not convicted of the crime until 1990. He was officially exonerated in 2009.

The Death Row Ten

It was not until the Summer of 1998 when the Death Row Ten organized together. They asked for the help of Campaign to End the Death Penalty to be their voice on the outside of the prison.

With the Campaign to End the Death Penalty voice reaching far and wide, finally in January of 2003 former Illinois Governor George Ryan officially pardon four inmates who were a part of the Death Row Ten.

As of late, the Campaign to End the Death Penalty is still campaigning to win justice for those inmates who are still in prison.

Ronald Kitchen Case

Two women bodies along with three children were found in a burning home in the south portion of Chicago on July 27, 1998. Just nine days after the bodies were found Marvin Reeves, 29 and Ronald Kitchen, 22 became the prime suspects for the murders due to a prison informant that went by Willie Williams. Williams contacted the Chicago police and stated that Kitchen and Reeves were the ones who committed this crime.

This suppose tip came through two telephone conversations that Williams allegedly had with Kitchen. Even though the prison telephone records indicated that there were no calls made on the dates that Williams gave. However, the Chicago police did get a court order that would allow them to listen to future calls that Williams would have with Ronald Kitchen.

Then between August 12 through the 22, Williams would end up calling Ronald Kitchen around 36 times. However, during all these phone conversations, there was never any incriminating information spilled along with no physical evidence that would link them to the crime either.

But, then on August 25, the Chicago police would arrest Ronald Kitchen and take him down to the local police station to interrogate him. Ronald Kitchen would be interrogated by Detective Michael Kill, who was working under Commander Jon Burge.

This is when the torture started happening to Ronald Kitchen. Kitchen would go through nearly 16 hours of abuse and torture until he finally gave him and signed a fabricated confession that was provided to him by Mark Lukanich, the Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney.

When Ronald Kitchen first appeared in court for pleading to his charges, he told the judge presiding over the case Jude Richard J Fitzgerald that was tortured during his interrogated. Judge Fitzgerald noted that Ronald had physical injuries and had him transferred to the local hospital to be treated for vis various injuries along with his testicular trauma.

Then on September 19, 1990, based on the fabricated confession that was produced by Detective Kill, the jury found Ronald Kitchen guilty. Judge Vincent Bentivenga sentenced Ronald to death.

While the other person on trial, Reeves was convicted separately on May 28, 1991. However, Reeves was only sentenced to life. But Reeves conviction was revered later in 1995 to only be convicted again in 2000 and be sentenced to life.


It was not until Ronald Kitchen was 43 years old when he was finally freed and exonerated for a crime, he did not commit some 21 years ago. Ronald Kitchen was a free man on July 7, 2009.

Ronald Kitchen was freed by Judge Paul Biebel. Biebel was the judge overseeing some of the cases in the Criminal Division of the Cook County Circuit Court after the Office of Illinois Attorney General teamed up with the attorneys from the Bluhm Legal Clinic.

Biebel was also able to free Marvin Reeves, who was convicted twice for the crime. Reeves was 50 at the time when he was a free man.

Ronald Kitchen’s entire conviction was based on the fabricated confession, along with the unreliable jailhouse informant, Willie Williams.

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