Senior Chicago Policeman Who Tortured Suspects Into Confessions Faces Up to 30 Years
A decorated Chicago police lieutenant who apparently put plastic bags over suspects heads and stuck guns in their mouths to extract confessions should face 30 years in jail, prosecutors have said.
Dozens of alleged victims have claimed Jon Burge, 63, and his officers tortured them into confessions to serious crimes including robbery and murder.
But his defence lawyers will argue the former commander should be allowed out in less than two years.
Some of the victims were given electric shocks as they were forced to confess, they claimed.
Burge was convicted of perjury for lying to a jury in 2003 when he claimed he had no knowledge of violent methods being used to extract confessions.
He was not put on trial for torture because the statute of limitations had expired.
One victim, Madison Hobley, who was sentenced to death for a 1987 fire that killed seven people including his wife and son, claimed he had a plastic typewriter cover put over his head so he couldn't breathe.
Burge denied knowing anything about the ‘bagging' or taking part in it.
However, Mr Hobley was later pardoned.
Ronald Kitchen, who was freed from prison after 21 years when it was proven that the senior officer had coerced him into falsely confessing to murder, said the officer deserved a long spell in jail.
‘He was our Al Qaeda, he was our bin Laden in our neighbourhood,' he said.
'I would love for him to do 21 years of hard time and to feel the loss that I felt and other people have felt.'
U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow will hear two days of evidence before deciding what sentence to pass on the 63-year-old.
Colleagues have queued up to praise the officer - and defence lawyers said he is in ill health with prostate cancer and a host of other maladies including congestive heart failure and chronic bronchitis.
They say the judge should take into account his military service and decades fighting crime.
Prosecutors presented testimony at trial from Anthony Holmes, Melvin Jones, Andrew Wilson, Gregory Banks and Shadeed Mu'min at the trial.
Burge has been free on bond since his five-week trial that finished in June.
The allegations against the 63-year-old and his men even helped shape the state's debate over the death penalty.
Former Illinois Governor George Ryan released four condemned men from death row in 2003 after Ryan said Burge extracted confessions from them using torture.
The allegations of torture and coerced confessions eventually led to a still-standing moratorium on Illinois' death penalty.
This month, legislators voted to abolish capital punishment in Illinois. The bill is awaiting the signature of Governor Pat Quinn.
Prosecutors will argue that the nature of the violent acts the defendant was convicted of lying about should lengthen his sentence, as should the cost his conduct has had on the city, his fellow officers and his victims.
More than 30 people, many of them police officers, have sent letters to Lefkow asking for leniency, with one calling Burge a ‘policeman's policeman.'
The same man added: ‘If my soul was on the way to heaven and Satan made one last attempt for my soul, Jon Burge would be the person I would want covering my back.'