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Aldermen Approve $10M Settlement For Burge Case

Eric Caine

Eric Caine was set free from prison on March 17, 2011, after 25 years in prison. Prosecutors dropped the case against him, due to a questionable confession that he claims was the result of police torture. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – The Chicago City Council on Wednesday agreed to pay $10 million to compensate a man imprisoned 25 years for a double murder he did not commit.

The settlement is the latest tied to detectives working under fired Pullman Area Police Commander Jon Burge.

Eric Caine and Aaron Patterson were jailed for the 1986 murders of two elderly south side residents, Vincent and Rafaela Sanchez. Paterson was sent to death row, but was one of those freed outright when then-Gov. George Ryan emptied Illinois’ Death Row by executive order in January 2003.

Caine spent eight more years behind bars, when a judge tossed out his confession and prosecutors dropped the charges.

“I had hope because every time I saw someone else being released, that told me that somebody is listening, and not just listening, but actually acting,” he said.

Attorneys for Caine said that police had evidence that pointed to others but did not act on it.

Caine could prove his claim of torture, because of a shattered eardrum, and the fact that the doctor who treated him afterward was still alive. His settlement is the second-largest paid out because of the actions taken by detectives working for Burge.

Settlement negotiations continue in three other wrongful imprisonment and/or torture cases tied to Burge.

Burge himself is imprisoned. He was convicted in 2010 on federal perjury and obstruction of justice charges for lying in a civil court case when asked if he knew of the alleged torture that went on under his watch and was sentenced to 4-1/2 years.

Caine said faith kept him going in prison, but said readjustment to everyday life has been difficult. He said the money is not as important to him as a commitment to reviewing the cases of all who claim to be wrongfully imprisoned, whether because of Burge-led detectives or others. He said the system still fights those who make such claims.