(Photo: AP Photo/Illinois Department of Corrections)
A man who claims police forced him to confess to a brutal rape that he did not commit is seeking a new trial on Thursday from the Illinois Supreme Court.
Stanley Wrice, who has been imprisoned for over 30 years of his 100-year sentence, says that Chicago police officers beat him with a flashlight and rubber hose in the face and groin until he confessed to a crime that he never committed: the brutal rape of a woman in 1982 at his home.
The officers involved in the beating worked for the notorious Chicago police Lt. Jon Burge, who is serving a 4 1/2-year sentence for lying in a civil suit that he had never witnessed or participated in the torture of suspects.
The outcome of Wrice’s case, based on the actions of Burge’s officers, is not just important to Wrice; it could also serve as an example to as many as 20 other men, almost all of whom are young and Black, who have claimed that since the 1970s, Burge and his officers have tortured suspects into confessing to crimes that they did not commit, ranging from armed robbery to murder.
Wrice's case will provide the Illinois Supreme Court with an opportunity “to clarify the situation and create a road map for these victims to have their cases heard in a meaningful way, up or down, and move toward putting this all behind us,” Locke Bowman, legal director of the MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern University, told the Associated Press.
Although prosecutors are arguing that torture was the legal equivalent of “harmless error” and did not affect the outcome of the case, the defense insists that the victim did not identify Wrice as one of her attackers and that there was no evidence, such as fingerprints, to link him to the crime. Additionally, one of the eyewitnesses recanted his statement, saying that he too was beaten by the police to implicate Wrice.
New hearings have been requested by more than 60 current and former prosecutors, judges and lawmakers, asking for new evidentiary hearings for inmates who say their convictions were based on coerced confessions.
Wrice’s re-trial could be history in the making for many inmates who are in prison and don’t deserve to be there.
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