After more than 36 years in custody, an accused cop killer who alleges notorious ex-Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge tortured him into confessing was ordered freed Friday while awaiting his third trial on the charges.
Jackie Wilson, 57, was granted a recognizance bond by Cook County Circuit Judge William Hooks, who last week tossed out Wilson’s murder conviction after finding that Burge and detectives under his command had physically coerced his confession to the 1982 slaying of two Chicago officers.
The judge said special prosecutors “utterly failed” in their arguments to keep Wilson in prison, adding that they appeared to want him to view the case “through the lens of a court sitting in 1982 or 1988 without considering the revelations that have come to light over the last three decades.”
Wilson is likely to walk out of Cook County Jail as soon as later Friday.
The ruling to free Wilson comes as special prosecutors filed paperwork earlier this week indicating they will ask an appeals court to reverse Hooks’ decision to toss the conviction and order a retrial.
Wilson has twice been convicted of teaming up with his now-dead brother, Andrew, who prosecutors say fatally shot Officers Richard O’Brien and William Fahey during a traffic stop in 1982. His first conviction was tossed out after an appeals court ruled that he should not have been tried simultaneously with his brother. At the retrial in 1989, a jury acquitted him of Fahey’s murder but convicted him of O’Brien’s. He was sentenced to life in prison.
Hooks held a lengthy hearing Thursday at which a team of special prosecutors laid out their case for keeping Wilson in custody pending a third trial. Prosecutors summarized the expected testimony of several witnesses, including eyewitnesses who implicated Wilson as well as correctional officers who allegedly heard him take credit for the slayings while in custody.
Thanks to Megan Crepeau.
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