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State Commission Probing Police Torture Withdraws Decision In 1983 Case

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Jerry Mahaffey (Credit: Illinois Department of Corrections)

Jerry Mahaffey (Credit: Illinois Department of Corrections)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – A state commission set up to right the wrongs of police torture has now withdrawn a decision in a high profile case – because the commission left the victims’ family out of the process.

WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller has the exclusive details.

It was 30 years ago when Dean and JoEllen Pueschel were killed in their home. Their 11-year-old son, Ricky, was stabbed and beaten but lived.

Jerry Mahaffey confessed to the murders, but the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission found last week there was credible evidence detectives working under infamous former Police Cmdr. Jon Burge had tortured Mahaffey.

The case was going to be handed to a judge to decide if Mahaffey should get a new trial.

When WBBM contacted the victims’ family, Mahaffey’s new status came as a shock.

Joe Heinrich, JoEllen’s brother, said the family was not contacted by the commission.

“To say Jerry Mahaffey is being reviewed. No clue at all,” he said.

The commission is required to notify victims’ families.

“You know, we sit there, quiet, thinking the system is in our corner, taking care of the victims, taking care of the people, and then this stuff happens, and you just wonder who’s watching out for the good guys in this state any more,” Heinrich said.

After the family contacted the commission, the Mahaffey decision was suddenly withdrawn, most likely delayed until the family can have a say.

The commission’s executive director said: “The Commission did not show due diligence in making the notifications in Mr. Mahaffey’s case. The Commission has also apologized to the family in writing for the notification oversight.”

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