----- Original Message -----
From: Taoss - Sherry Swiney
To: PATRICK Crusade
Cc: Prison Action List
Sent: Friday, January 10, 2003 10:35 PM
Subject: [patrickcrusade] Aaron Patterson and others to receive pardon
January 10, 2003
Illinois Expected to Free 4 Inmates on Death Row
By JODI WILGOREN
CHICAGO, Jan. 9, 2003 - Gov. George Ryan plans to pardon at least four death row inmates on Friday in a last-minute exercise of executive power, a participant in the discussions about the decision said today. He is also expected on Saturday to commute many of the state's remaining 150 death sentences to life in prison.
The 4 men whose freedom is expected are among 10 who say they had been wrongfully convicted, in part because of false confessions beaten out of them by detectives at the Chicago Police Department's Area 2, under the direction of Cmdr. Jon Burge. Mr. Burge was fired in 1993 after being accused of torturing men suspected of murder.
The pardons will come three days before Governor Ryan's term expires on Monday and nearly three years after he became an international hero among opponents of capital punishment by declaring a moratorium on executions. Mr. Ryan, a Republican, was elected as a supporter of the death penalty. But with 13 death row inmates exonerated and only 12 executed since Illinois reinstated the death penalty in 1977, he said the system could not be trusted.
Mr. Ryan's spokesman, Dennis Culloton, declined to discuss details of the twin speeches the governor has planned, for Friday at the DePaul University College of Law and for Saturday at Northwestern University Law School, whose Center on Wrongful Convictions has led the call for clemency.
"The governor wants to talk about some specific cases tomorrow where there was manifest injustice," Mr. Culloton said this evening. "As for what action he will take, I would encourage everyone to stay tuned."
But the participant in the clemency process, as well as lawyers for some of the men to be pardoned, confirmed tonight that Governor Ryan planned to exonerate Madison Hobley, Stanley Howard, Leroy Orange and Aaron Patterson, who together have served nearly 40 years in prison. All but Mr. Howard, who was convicted of other crimes, are expected to be released soon.
Mr. Hobley, 42, was convicted of killing seven people, including his wife and infant son, in a 1987 arson at an apartment building. Mr. Howard, a 40-year-old father of three, has long maintained his innocence in a 1984 South Side murder. His father read a statement from him to that effect at a clemency hearing in October.
Mr. Orange, 52, and his half-brother were convicted of stabbing two adults and two children to death in 1984. Mr. Patterson, 38, carved a statement that he was lying into a table in an Area 2 interview room even as he confessed to a double murder in 1986.
The person involved in the clemency process said inmates who were not on death row might be pardoned as well. In addition, Mario Flores, who was sentenced to death after he was convicted in a 1984 killing in a reputed gang fight, and who also said he had been beaten by Mr. Burge, is likely to have his death sentence lifted but not to be freed, the participant said.
As for Saturday's announcement, several people who have been involved in the death penalty debate here said the choice of Northwestern as its site suggested that Mr. Ryan would commute most, if not all, of the death sentences. Mr. Culloton would not respond to such suggestions, but several lawyers said they had received hints from the governor's office that the announcement would please them.
Governor Ryan appointed a blue-ribbon commission that in April recommended 85 measures to overhaul capital punishment, but the Legislature has been reluctant to pass them. The governor insisted that he would review each death row case individually, looking for unfair treatment, but primarily focusing on claims of actual innocence.
Late this afternoon about 50 people gathered outside the governor's office and chanted against the death penalty. In the crowd was Mr. Howard's sister, Tiffany Johnson, 22, as yet unaware of his fate.
"I was young when my brother was locked up," Ms. Johnson said. "I only see him once a month. I just want him out. He needs to be with his kids."
Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company