Freed Death Row Inmate Sues, Alleging Torture

Madison Hobley is one of the four inmates pardoned by former Illinois Governor George Ryan before he left office. Hobley spent 16 years in prison for arson and murder, 13 of them on death row.

Hobley has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Chicago police, alleging that they tortured and framed him.

...detectives were accused of beating Hobley and placing a plastic bag over his head to cut off his air supply in an unsuccessful effort to get him to confess.

Hobley alleges detectives manufactured a confession, though he said he never confessed, planted a gas can at the scene and lied at Hobley's trial.

The prosecutors said Hobley wanted to kill his wife and son so he could be with a girlfriend. But the case had been marked by problems. The Chicago police detective who said Hobley confessed to him later testified he threw away his notes when he spilled coffee on them and they got wet and torn.

An arson investigator's initial report indicated the fire started on the ground level of the building. The alleged confession had Hobley saying he started the fire outside his third-floor apartment. Then, at the trial, the detective said the fire could have started anywhere. In addition, one key witness has recanted, and the Tribune found police reports suggesting another key witness was given help by police.

The Commander of the South Side police precinct, Jon Burge, has since been fired--for the torture of another inmate.

Burge was fired by the Chicago Police Board in 1993 for his role in the torture of Andrew Wilson, who was being questioned in the murders of two police officers. Wilson was convicted and sentenced to death, but his conviction was overturned.

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