Judge sets June date for ruling on confession in Burge torture case

SHARE Judge sets June date for ruling on confession in Burge torture case

Jackie Wilson at a court hearing earlier this year | Pool photo by Zbigniew Bzdak for the Chicago Tribune

A Cook County judge will rule this summer on whether Jackie Wilson was tortured by Area 2 detectives investigating the 1982 murders of two Chicago Police officers.

Closing out hearings that have spanned four months, Wilson’s attorney, Flint Taylor, argued Thursday that there was a “mountain of evidence” showing that police, under the command of Jon Burge, tortured suspects into confessions, including the statements Wilson and his older brother offered in the murders of Officers William Fahey and Richard O’Brien.

The hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building, where Wilson twice has been tried and convicted in the murders, drew few spectators. A half-dozen relatives of Fahey and O’Brien, some wearing “Police Lives Matter” T-shirts, sat in the tiny gallery. Across the aisle sat Darrell Cannon, who was released from prison after his confession to a 1983 murder — obtained by Burge subordinates who shocked Cannon with a cattle prod — was thrown out by a judge a decade ago.

Former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge. | Sun-Times files

Former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge. | Sun-Times files

In December, Wilson testified that detectives at Area 2 beat him with phone books, shoved a pistol in his mouth, and shocked him with electrodes from a “black box” wielded by Burge himself. Taylor’s co-counsel, Elliot Slosar, noted that Burge and the three officers who obtained the confession, as well as a former prosecutor who took Wilson’s statement, each took the Fifth Amendment when questioned about the interrogation — a point that seemed to deeply trouble Judge William Hooks.

Special State’s Attorney Shane Costelloe pointed out that some elements of Wilson’s story have changed, and that specifically the allegations about the electric shock were not raised at a 1982 hearing on his confession or at either of his subsequent trials.

Medical records that documented evidence of torture of Wilson’s brother, who died in prison in 2007, also don’t exist, though defense lawyers have noted that the jail’s Cermak hospital likely destroyed them.

“He’s lying. He wants to be Andrew. He wants to have you pull the wool over your eyes and for you to believe that he is Andrew and what was perpetrated on his brother … was perpetrated on him as well,” Costelloe said.

The hearings, ordered three years ago by the state Torture Inquiry Relief Commission — a panel created to review cases after evidence of systematic torture overseen by Burge during his decades as a decorated detective and police commander — could help Wilson win a third trial for the Fahey and O’Brien murders.

Burge was fired by CPD in 1993, and was charged in 2008 for perjury for denying knowledge of the abuse. He was convicted and spent four years in federal prison. In lawsuits filed by suspects alleging abuse, the number of suspects tortured by Burge and his crew of detectives totals more than 100 men.

Hooks said he would rule in the case as soon as June 8.

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