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Killer Freed After 40 Years, But Debate Remains

February 20, 1993

CHESTER, Ill. (AP) _ A man who came within hours of being executed for the 1953 slaying of a security guard walked out of prison Friday, leaving behind a debate over whether he ever deserved parole.

Paul Crump, who told his story in his novel ″Burn, Killer, Burn,″ was met at Menard state prison by two of his sisters, said James K. Williams, chairman of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board.

Crump, 62, was imprisoned for 40 years for killing security guard Ted Zukowski during a 1953 food-plant holdup. He was originally sentenced to death, and some argued he should have never been freed.

″So he’s spent 40 years in prison. So what? Just because everyone else gets out, he should too? That’s pathetic,″ said Wayne Meyer of the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.

But civil rights attorney Elmer Gertz called Crump ″the most rehabilitated prisoner I’ve ever seen.″

The average prison term for murder in Illinois is about 15 years. Crump was the state’s second-longest-serving prisoner, Williams said.

″I think the length of time that he did was a factor″ in his being released, Williams said. ″But it wasn’t the only one.″

He said Crump has a supportive family and has expressed remorse.

Among those who supported Crump’s bid for freedom was filmmaker William Friedkin whose movies include ″The Exorcist″ and ″The French Connection.″

Crump once came within hours of being executed, but after a 1962 documentary by Friedkin his sentence was commuted to life without parole. The no-parole stipulation was dropped in 1976.

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