Man seeks to prove innocence after Will County murder-for-hire case dropped

Robert Gold-Smith

A former attorney is seeking a certificate of innocence after Will County prosecutors dropped a 2012 murder-for-hire case against him on March 1.

Prosecutors are nevertheless objecting to Robert Gold-Smith, 60, receiving that certificate. A status hearing on whether Gold-Smith should receive the certificate is set for May 31.

Under Illinois law, a person convicted and imprisoned for a felony they did not commit may, under certain conditions, file a petition for a certificate of innocence in the circuit court where the conviction occurred.

Gold-Smith decided to petition for that certificate after prosecutors dropped charges of solicitation of murder for hire and solicitation of murder on March 1. The case was dismissed because prosecutors were unable to meet their burden of proof, according to Will County Assistant State’s Attorney Laura Byrne.

Gold-Smith was accused of trying to hire former Will County jail inmate, Brian McDaniel, to kill his ex-wife in 2011.

Gold-Smith said the case against him was a “true miscarriage of justice” and that he lost his law license and family as a result.

“Everything I accomplished in life went down the drain, all because of the word of one person, an unreliable jailhouse informant,” Gold-Smith said.

On May 4, Gold-Smith’s attorney, Stephen Richards, filed the petition for certificate of innocence that noted Gold-Smith spent more than eight years in prison after former Judge Dan Rozak found him guilty of the charges. Gold-Smith’s conviction was overturned after a successful appeal in 2019.

Richards’ petition asserted Gold-Smith is “innocent of the offenses charged in the indictment.”

“[Gold-Smith] did not by his own conduct voluntarily cause or bring about his conviction. [Gold-Smith] is likely to succeed at trial in proving that he is innocent of the offenses charged in the indictment,” Richards’ petition said.

Will County Assistant State’s Attorney Colleen Griffin filed an objection that said Gold-Smith offers “simply no evidence of his innocence” save for the fact that prosecutors dismissed the charges after the 2019 appeal.

Griffin’s objection contended the evidence at trial for Gold-Smith was “sufficient to support a conviction.”

“[Gold-Smith] offers absolutely nothing to show he is innocent, [besides a] bare statement to that effect,” she said.

Griffin’s objection also stated that an appellate court found a “reasonable finder of fact could have found defendant guilty of solicitation of murder beyond a reasonable doubt.”