CHICAGO (CBS) — The Illinois Supreme Court has ordered a hearing for a convicted rapist who claims he was tortured into a false confession by detectives working for Cmdr. Jon Burge.
But Wrice has long claimed he only confessed after he was in the face and groin with a flashlight and rubber hose by detectives working for Burge.
In their ruling, the Supreme Court justices disagreed with the prosecutors’ contention that the alleged torture in the case is the legal equivalent of “harmless error,” because Wrice would have been convicted anyway.
Prosecutors had argued that the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that a coerced confession can constitute “harmless error” in the 1991 case Arizona v. Fulminante. But in that case, defendant Oreste Fulminante confessed to a prison informant that he had murdered his stepdaughter because the informant had agreed to protect him in prison.
By contrast, Wrice alleges that his confession involved torture at the hands of police, and the state Supreme Court agreed that physical coercion cannot constitute harmless error.
But Wrice is still responsible for proving that he confessed to the crime after being tortured, the state Supreme Court said.
Although Wrice confessed, he was not identified by the victim, and one of two witnesses recanted, also alleging torture.
The ruling did not address the wider issue of similar cases alleging coerced confession. Defense attorneys for Wrice had asked for an order that all inmates with credible torture claims get new hearings.
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