Another $14 million settlement tied to Burge torture era

Corey Batchelor and Kevin Bailey were teenagers when they were beaten into confessing to a murder they did not commit after being tortured by detectives trained by disgraced Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge.

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Jon Burge.

Jon Burge in 2010. Burge died in 2018.

Associated Press

Chicago taxpayers will spend $14 million to compensate two men who confessed as teenagers to a murder they did not commit after being interrogated for hours and severely beaten by detectives trained by disgraced Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge.

Corey Batchelor was sentenced to 30 years in prison after being convicted in June 1991 for the murder of Lula Mae Woods. Woods, wife of a retired Chicago Police officer, who was found dead inside her South Side garage in 1989.

His co-defendant, Kevin Bailey, was convicted by a jury in 1990 and sentenced to 80 years.

Batchelor was released in 2004.

Bailey was released from Stateville Prison in 2018 after a Cook County special prosecutor dropped the charges, stating the evidence in the case did not meet the burden of proof to sustain the charges, but making no public statement about the abuse allegations.

The $14 million settlement on the agenda for Monday’s meeting of the City Council’s Finance Committee just adds to the mountain of legal settlements, judgments and reparations stemming from the Burge torture era. The two men will split the settlement evenly, Batchelor’s attorney, Jon Loevy, said Thursday. Bailey is represented by the Peoples Law Office.

Batchelor and Bailey were teenagers and close friends when they landed at the Area 2 headquarters in 1989 as suspects in the Woods murder.

Though by that time, Burge already had moved on to work in Area 3, both men maintained they were beaten by detectives until they confessed to Woods’ murder.

Batchelor was punched, kicked and slammed against a wall during a 27-hour interrogation that ended with his confession.

Bailey confessed after 12 hours of questioning and similar abuse.

DNA on a hat found under Woods’ body and a bloody towel at the scene was analyzed years later; it did not belong to either of Bailey or Batchelor.

On the day the two men were exonerated in 2018, Special Prosecutor Robert Milan’s statements in court made no mention of the abuse allegations. A Cook County judge had already ruled that the DNA evidence alone was not compelling enough to overturn the convictions.

Corey Batchelor, left, hugs Kevin Bailey during Bailey’s release from Statesville Correctional Center on Tuesday, January 30, 2018.

Corey Batchelor, left, hugs Kevin Bailey during Bailey’s release from Statesville Correctional Center on Tuesday, January 30, 2018.

Paul J. Bergstrom/For the Sun-Times

Lawyers for the two men said Bailey and Batchelor maintained their innocence and had claimed they were beaten.

Hearing his record had been cleared and his friend, Bailey, was coming home, was enough for Batchelor on that fateful day.

“To finally just hear those words that I always knew in that same exact building behind us in 1989, that no matter what happens, before I leave this earth, I will leave an innocent man, or at least I will die trying,” he said then.

Batchelor, his eyes brimming with tears, whispered to Bailey as Bailey was led from the courtroom.

“I told him, ‘Aren’t you glad I didn’t give up?’” Batchelor told reporters in the lobby of the Leighton Criminal Court Building after the hearing.

Milan began his review of the infamous case in June 2018.

The special prosecutor maintained that a seven month-long review of thousands of pages of court records, police reports, and dozen of interviews, did not yield evidence that could prove the two men’s guilt.

However, their deal with Milan barred Bailey and Batchelor from seeking a certificate of innocence, which would potentially entitle the two men to counseling and a payout from the state of $200,000 or less.

The two men were further prohibited from claiming a piece of the $5.5 million reparations fund that former Mayor Rahm Emanuel created to compensate victims of the Burge torture era. That’s because Burge had transferred out of Area 2 by the time of their interrogation.

Burge was fired from CPD in 1993. More than a decade later, he was sentenced to 4 1/2 years for lying under oath about police torture, but he got time off for good behavior.

He was released in 2015 from a halfway house near his home in Florida.

He died in 2018, at age 70.

As of 2019, the mountain of settlements, judgments, reparations and legal fees had already cost Chicago and Cook County taxpayers nearly $140 million. If, as expected, the Finance Committee approves the settlement, it will grow again.

Police Cmdr. Jon Burge, accused of condoning the torture of a murder suspect, waves to supporters at a 1992 benefit to raise funds for his legal fees.

Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge, accused of condoning the torture of a murder suspect, waves to supporters at a 1992 benefit to raise funds for his legal fees.

Sun-Times file

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