CHICAGO (CBS) — A man who has long claimed he was tortured by Chicago police detectives into confessing to two murders will be getting out of prison after nearly 25 years behind bars.
Cook County Judge William H. Hooks ordered Eric Caine, 45, to be released during a hearing Wednesday. Caine will go free from Menard Correctional Facility on Thursday.
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Caine has been behind bars since 1986, when he was charged with the murders of a South Chicago couple. He was convicted in 1989 and sentenced to life in prison, but has long maintained that he was tortured into confessing.
“When I first was informed, or told, that I had been implicated in this murder, I was shocked beyond belief,” Caine said last year in a phone interview from prison.
Hooks ruled in January that Caine was entitled to a post-conviction hearing based on his allegations of torture.
Former Judge Stuart Nudelman is acting as special prosecutor in Caine’s case. He said that prosecutors decided they didn’t have enough evidence to convict Caine in a retrial.
Russell Ainsworth, the lead attorney at The Exoneration Project at University of Chicago Law School, said last year that “(Caine’s) claims of innocence are the most powerful we’ve ever had in our clinic.”
Caine’s co-defendant, Aaron Patterson, was also convicted in the case and sentenced to death. But in 2003, then-Gov. George Ryan pardoned Patterson.
When Patterson was beaten by police, he said Caine was also involved in the murders.
Both Caine and Patterson have always said they were tortured into signing confessions given to them by detectives under the command of Jon Burge. Caine said he was beaten so badly, his eardrum ruptured.
In 2003, Ryan pardoned four Death Row inmates, including Patterson. All were tortured by Burge and his men, but because Caine was sentenced to life, he wasn’t pardoned.
When asked if he feels as if he was left behind, Caine said, “That’s an understatement. I feel, honestly, I’m going to tell you, I feel offended, I feel disrespected and I’m extremely hurt by it.”
While incarcerated, his mother, father and grandmother all died.
Last summer, Burge was convicted of federal perjury and obstruction of justice for lying about the torture at Area 2. On Wednesday, he reported to prison in North Carolina.
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