13 years later: Man released from prison after conviction vacated for murder of infant son

Local News

A Coal Valley man serving 60 years in prison for killing his son is now free.

Rock Island County’s State’s Attorney today asked a judge to vacate the conviction.

Nathaniel Onsrud pleaded guilty to killing his four month old son in 2008. That was more than a year after the boy died. He was 21 years old at the time.

The State’s Attorney took another look at the case at the request of the Illinois’ Innocence Project.

Rock Island State’s Attorney Dora Villareal says Onsrud attempted to withdraw his guilty plea before he was sentenced to 60 years by now-retired judge “Casey” Stengel, but his motion was denied.

She says recently the Illinois’ Innocence Project reached out to her office to review the case.

Villareal says during that process, they found many documents missing. They reached out to other agencies who assisted in the initial case, and retrieved more information they believe was not presented to Onsrud’s attorney back in 2008.

The prosecutor who handled that case is no longer with the office.

Local 4 News reached out to Laura Kaeseberg the Chicago’s Office Legal Director of the Illinois Innocence Project

His four month son just tragically died in 2007 after suffering from medical complications throughout his short life. Nathaniel his father loved his son and grieved with his son, but immediately upon the child’s death certain investigators, and people with the investigation sort of had a gut feeling that maybe something was a miss,” says Kaeseberg.

Villareal says, “It is our duty every time a person is charged to ensure that a case has probable cause that we prove it beyond a reasonable doubt in trial. Most importantly the defense is given the opportunity to review any and all evidence against them. So no we are very sad, actually quite devastated that occurred.”

The Rock Island State Attorney’s Office also plans to audit other cases handled by that prosecutor.

Onsrud makes the 15th person who has been released or exonerated by the IIP.

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