CHICAGO (CBS) — A lawyer for seven Chicago cops told a federal jury on Wednesday that Deon Patrick’s certificate of innocence is “not even worth the paper that it’s printed on.”
The document exonerating Patrick, a former Vice Lord who spent 21 years behind bars for a 1992 double murder he says he didn’t commit, was based on provably false statements, attorney Timothy Scahill told jurors. He suggested Patrick is now a “double-murderer who is seeking to profit off killing two people.”
But that claim is undermined by records that show one of Patrick’s alleged accomplices was actually in a police lock-up at the time of the killings, according to Patrick’s lawyer.
The comments came during opening statements in a civil trial that kicked off in earnest Wednesday. Patrick has accused seven mostly retired Chicago police officers and two Cook County prosecutors of coercing his confession and framing him for the slayings of Jeffrey Lassiter and Sharon Haugabook, who were shot and killed in Lassiter’s Uptown apartment on Nov. 16, 1992.
The contentious trial playing out in front of U.S. District Judge Ronald A. Guzman could last weeks. The judge has pointed out that “the truly undisputed facts” of the case “are relatively few.”
Patrick claims authorities also railroaded six of his seven alleged accomplices, who ranged in age from 15 to 22 at the time. Patrick was 20. He is now 45. He filed a lawsuit against the city, the officers and the prosecutors in May 2014, months after the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office dismissed murder charges against him and a judge issued his certificate of innocence.
Nicole Auerbach, Patrick’s attorney, told the jurors her client is not “a saint,” but she said he was elsewhere watching Monday Night Football at the time of the murders. Weeks after Lassiter and Haugabook were killed, police claim they picked up three people for drug possession, and two of them voluntarily implicated themselves, along with Patrick and others, in the killings.
Patrick confessed later but he says he did so only after police handcuffed him to a ring on a wall in an interrogation room and kicked a chair away so he couldn’t sit down. His attorneys say he was handcuffed to that wall “for the vast majority of the 28 hours that he was interrogated.”
Daniel Taylor also confessed to his role in the killings and implicated Patrick. But Auerbach pointed to records that show Taylor was in a police lock-up from 6:45 p.m. until 10 p.m. the night of the murders. Lassiter and Haugabook were killed at 8:43 p.m.
Taylor would also be convicted, but a Cook County judge dismissed the charges against him in 2013. Still, Scahill said there is a “mountain of evidence” suggesting Taylor may have never been in a lock-up that night. For example, Scahill said Taylor’s brother was known to use Taylor’s name when he got into trouble with police.
“Daniel Taylor’s lock-up alibi is not what it appears to be,” Scahill said.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2017. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)