Judge toss conviction in officers’ murders, cites torture
CHICAGO (AP) — The conviction of a man for the murder of two Chicago police officers 40 years ago was overturned Thursday by a Cook County judge who cited alleged police torture in the case.
Judge William Hooks tossed out the confession of Jackie Wilson that he fatally shot officers Richard O’Brien and William Fahey in 1982 and order a new trial. Wilson, 57, alleged former police Cmdr. Jon Burge and his subordinates tortured him into confessing to the shootings.
Wilson had been serving a life sentence in prison.
“Your life matters, and yes, even a guilty person’s life matters,” the judge said in his ruling. “All rights matter, the rights of the good, bad and ugly all count.”
Special Prosecutor Michael O’Rourke has said he would try Wilson again. It would be the third time Wilson is tried in the case.
Hooks’ decision means prosecutors would be unable to use Jackie Wilson’s confession as evidence in a new trial.
A team of special prosecutors opposed Wilson’s bid for a new trial, saying the evidence didn’t show he was beaten as was proven in the case of his brother, Andrew Wilson. A member of the team noted photographs taken after his interrogation show Jackie Wilson smiling, with no visible injuries. However, Wilson’s lawyers say he smiled because one of his interrogators ordered him to and he was terrified to disobey.
During the hearings, Hooks asserted the special prosecutors were acting more like defense lawyers for police than prosecutors. A former lawyer on the special prosecutors’ team moved on to represent Burge in a civil suit brought by another alleged torture victim.
Burge has never faced criminal charges for abuse. He was fired from the police department in 1993 over the 1982 beating and burning of Andrew Wilson. Andrew Wilson died in prison in 2007, having been tried and convicted twice in the deaths of O’Brien and Fahey.
Burge was convicted in 2010 of lying about whether he ever witnessed or participated in the torture of suspects and served a term in federal prison.