Special prosecutor says he’ll get conviction if man retried in 1990 double murder

Even with Gerald Reed’s confession thrown out by a Cook County judge, “no prosecutor in his right mind could ever walk away from this case,” Robert Milan said.

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Robert Milan talks to reporters at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.

Special Prosecutor Robert Milan talks to reporters Friday, July 12, in the lobby of the Leighton Criminal Courthouse after a hearing in the case of Gerald Reed, who last year won a new trial in a 1990 double-murder after serving 28 years in prison.

Andy Grimm for the Sun-Times

Special prosecutor Robert Milan said Friday he can win a conviction in a nearly 30-year-old murder case, even after a Cook County judge threw out the man’s confession and ordered a new trial.

Gerald Reed’s lawyers have argued that charges against Reed for the murders of Willie Williams and Pamela Powers should be dismissed since Judge Thomas Gainer ruled in December that Reed should get a new trial. The judge based the decision on Reed’s claims that he only confessed after being beaten by detectives under the command of the late disgrace Cmdr. Jon Burge.

At a hearing earlier this week, Reed’s attorneys also asked the chief criminal courts judge to remove Milan, a former prosecutor turned private lawyer, as the special prosecutor in Reed’s case.

Judge Thomas Hennelly on Friday said he would rule on the motion to dismiss Reed’s case on Aug. 9. If Hennelly decides to let the case move forward, Reed could request bond.

Milan is the latest private attorney appointed to serve as special prosecutor in cases tainted by allegations of torture by Burge or his subordinates, based on a 2002 ruling that then State’s Attorney Richard Devine and his office had a conflict of interest because before his election, Devine has represented Burge as a private attorney. Milan, Reed’s lawyers argued, had been Devine’s top deputy, and had an incentive to press Reed’s case so he could continue collecting fees from the county for his work as special prosecutor.

At Friday’s hearing, Milan recited the remaining evidence against Reed, which no longer includes the confession Reed long maintained he gave only after a beating by Detectives Victor Breska and Michael Kill that dislodged a titanium rod implanted in his leg.

Milan pointed out that since taking over as special prosecutor in 2017, he had signed off on dismissing charges or reducing sentences for multiple Burge defendants. Reed’s case, buttressed by physical evidence linking the him to the murder weapon, was different, he said.

“It’s my opinion that we have overwhelming evidence against Mr. Reed and no prosecutor in his right mind would ever walk away from this case,” Milan said.

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