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Breaking News: Devine offers deals to Death Row 10

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  • Noreen McNulty
    Breaking News: Devine offers Deals to Death Row 10 (see Chicago Tribune article below) Illinois State s Attorney Dick Devine has offered deals to several
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 2, 2001
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      Breaking News: Devine offers Deals to Death Row 10
      (see Chicago Tribune article below)

      Illinois State's Attorney Dick Devine has offered deals to several
      members of the Death Row 10 if they drop their torture claims.
      (The Death Row 10 are victims of police torture on Illinois'
      Death Row.) At this time, the specifics of the deals are unclear.
      The deals could mean that some of the Death Row 10 would eventually
      go free, but this freedom would come with a big price. In addition
      to dropping their torture claims, inmates who have maintained
      their innocence may have to "admit" guilt to crimes they did
      not commit.

      It's apparent that Devine is feeling the heat, and he's trying
      to keep the lid on the issue of police torture in Chicago. The
      only reason Devine is now offering deals is because of the growing
      public campaign to win justice for the Death Row 10.

      We have always demanded new trials for the Death Row 10. Although
      the deals fall far short of this, they mean that one or more
      of the Death Row 10 could get off Illinois' Death Row in the
      coming years. Even though they may have to serve time in general
      population, the deals would mean that they would no longer be
      awaiting a death sentence. For inmates who have been anticipating
      lethal injection to end their lives, these deals mean no more
      Death Row and the potential for a life outside of prison. Undoubtedly,
      this would represent a victory for our side.

      We need to keep up the pressure and win justice for all of the
      Death Row 10!

      "To err is human; to cover up is Devine!"

      ************************************************************

      http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-0109270184sep27.story

      >From the Chicago Tribune

      Devine offers Death Row deal
      Inmates who drop cop torture claims may gain freedom

      By Steve Mills
      Tribune staff reporter

      September 27, 2001

      In a stunning turnabout, Cook County State's Atty. Richard Devine
      has begun to discuss deals with a handful of Death Row inmates
      who have long-standing claims
      they were tortured to confess by Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge
      and his detectives, according to sources close to the cases.

      The deals, the sources said, would give the convicted murderers
      who once faced execution a chance at freedom. But in exchange,
      the inmates would have to drop
      their claims of torture and plead guilty--even though some insist
      they are innocent.

      Among the inmates who either have received an offer or had some
      discussion about a plea agreement are Derrick King, Stanley Howard,
      Andrew Maxwell and
      Aaron Patterson, according to several sources familiar with the
      negotiations.

      In other cases, Devine's prosecutors have approached defense
      lawyers and, as one lawyer who is involved said, "talked about
      talking." Lawyers for some of the
      inmates, such as Madison Hobley, have not been contacted.

      Maxwell, according to sources, is closest to reaching a deal.
      But it would call for him to still serve a significant number
      of years, in large part because he has other
      convictions. Some of the other deals under discussion could result
      in release much sooner, the sources said.

      John Gorman, Devine's spokesman, declined to comment, saying
      the office does not discuss ongoing plea bargain negotiations.

      Devine's effort seems to have a dual purpose--heading off the
      possibility of additional legal victories by the defendants and
      putting aside a controversial matter that
      stubbornly remains in Cook County courts.

      Guilty plea a problem

      The offers present problems for the defendants and their
      families--particularly
      those who have maintained their innocence. Though they want to
      win their freedom,
      they do not want to admit guilt to something they insist they
      did not do.

      "It just hurts my heart--that the state would give us a decision
      like this when my son is innocent," said the mother of one defendant.
      "They don't want to hear the
      innocent part. They just want it to go away. I don't know if
      it's worth it.

      "I'm totally insulted and hurt. There are other ways of being
      free."

      The allegations against Burge and his detectives are some of
      the most explosive in Chicago police history. For close to a
      decade, defendants in those cases have
      sought new trials and evidentiary hearings to present evidence
      showing their confessions were tainted by torture.

      For just as long, prosecutors have vigorously opposed the efforts,
      arguing the defendants did not have convincing evidence of torture.
      Prosecutors also have
      disputed the defendants' innocence claims.

      But over the past couple of years, several of the defendants
      have begun to make significant gains and win some key legal challenges.

      The Illinois Supreme Court last year granted King and Patterson
      hearings to present evidence of their allegations.

      The state's highest court also has granted Howard a hearing,
      in part based on documents that show his torture claims were
      reinvestigated by the Police Department
      and determined to have merit.

      Police said those internal cases were later closed by top officials
      and the defendants were not told of the findings until much later.

      Maxwell has a hearing pending before U.S. District Judge Milton
      Shadur, who has used unusually strong language to describe allegations
      of torture.

      "It is now common knowledge," Shadur wrote when he granted Maxwell
      a hearing, "that in the early- to mid-1980s, Chicago Police Cmdr.
      Jon Burge and many
      officers working under him regularly engaged in the physical
      abuse and torture of prisoners to extract confessions."

      Finally, in January, Cook County prosecutors struck a deal with
      convicted murderer Darrell Cannon. In exchange for dropping his
      claim, Cannon pleaded guilty to
      a lesser charge that calls for him to be set free in 2003.

      That deal was brokered as Cannon's hearing was under way--and
      after he had won some key rulings--but before prosecutors had
      put on their case, which would
      have involved Chicago police detectives testifying.

      Lawyers in some of the cases also are being allowed to conduct
      depositions of some detectives and other investigative work that
      may shed more light on what
      happened in the South Side violent crime squad that Burge led.

      Beatings, shocks alleged

      Among the claims by the defendants are that they confessed only
      after they were beaten, had guns pointed at them, were subjected
      to electric shocks or nearly
      suffocated by Burge or his detectives placing typewriter covers
      over their heads.

      Burge was fired by the Chicago Police Board in 1993 for his role
      in the torture of Andrew Wilson while Wilson was being questioned
      in the murders of two police
      officers. Wilson was convicted and sentenced to death, but his
      conviction was overturned. He was convicted again and got a life
      sentence.

      Devine's efforts to reach deals also come as defense attorneys
      and others are seeking to have a special prosecutor appointed
      to investigate the Burge-related
      cases. They argue that Devine, who once appeared in court with
      Burge because his law firm was defending him, has a conflict.

      Moreover, they say the issue needs to be thoroughly investigated
      and publicly aired with an eye toward criminal charges against
      some of the key players.

      Devine, in court papers, has argued that statutes of limitations
      make any prosecution impossible. He says, too, that the torture
      charges have not been proved.

      Copyright © 2001, Chicago Tribune
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