Jackie Wilson declared innocent of killing 2 Chicago police officers

Judge William Hooks also requested the appointment of special prosecutors to look into allegations of wrongdoing by prosecutors in Wilson’s case.

SHARE Jackie Wilson declared innocent of killing 2 Chicago police officers
Jackie Wilson, his wife Sandra and niece Candace walk outside the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on Oct. 2 a day after charges were dropped against him during his third trial for the 1982 murder of Chicago Police Officer Richard O’Brien.

Jackie Wilson, his wife Sandra and niece Candace walk outside the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on Oct. 2 a day after charges were dropped against him during his third trial for the 1982 murder of Chicago Police Officer Richard O’Brien.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

A man tortured by Chicago police into confessing to the 1982 murders of two officers has finally heard the word he has doggedly sought for nearly four decades — innocent.

After three trials and 36 years of incarceration, Jackie Wilson said he felt mixed emotions after his petition for a certificate of innocence was granted by Cook County Judge William Hooks on Friday.

“It’s a long time coming,” Wilson said. “I’m not mad ... but I’m still suffering. This will remain with me for the rest of my life.”

A week before, Wilson’s attorneys argued he was merely present — and shocked — when his brother, Andrew Wilson, grabbed the gun of Officer William Fahey and fatally shot him and then Officer Richard O’Brien during a traffic stop in Gresham.

Special prosecutors appointed to try Wilson at his latest trial had argued the Wilson brothers were involved in a scheme to break their friend out of custody at a local hospital at the time of the murders, making Jackie Wilson also responsible.

Hooks said the evidence special prosecutors offered didn’t support that.

“Andrew Wilson shot and killed Officers Fahey and O’Brien and took their firearms from their person. Jackie Wilson did none of those things,” Hooks said.

The Wilson brothers were convicted the following year after they were tortured by Jon Burge’s “midnight crew” into giving confessions. Jackie Wilson won a second trial in 1989 and was convicted solely of Officer O’Brien’s murder.

In 2015, the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission recommended another new trial.

That trial came to a shocking conclusion in October when special prosecutors appointed to try Jackie Wilson for a third time for O’Brien’s murder suddenly announced they were dropping the charges after several days of testimony.

Assistant State’s Attorney Nicholas Trutenko, who prosecuted Wilson’s second trial, had lied on the stand, special prosecutors said, when he testified he had never discussed William Coleman — a key witness in Wilson’s second trial — with them.

Both sides had long sought Coleman’s testimony, but he couldn’t be located and was believed by many to be dead.

Trutenko testified not only did he have a close relationship with Coleman for decades, he had also spoken with him recently.

Wilson’s attorney’s asked for sanctions against the state’s attorney’s office, which they accused of trying to cover up Trutenko’s wrongdoing in the cases.

Hooks declined to grant that motion Friday but said he would be requesting that special prosecutors be appointed to investigate the allegations.

The matter will go before Presiding Judge LeRoy Martin Jr. on Monday.

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