Breaking News: Devine offers deals to Death Row 10
- 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
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!"
>From the Chicago TribuneDevine 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
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
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
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
"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
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