On the same day former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge went to prison for lying about torture, a judge Wednesday ordered the release of a man serving a life sentence because Burge’s detectives allegedly beat a confession from him in a 1986 double murder.
An attorney for Eric Caine, 45, presented Judge William Hooks with evidence that Caine had entered the Cook County Jail in 1986 with a ruptured eardrum that was a result of trauma and not an infection. The injury was caused by a detective who hit him in the ear with a cupped hand, the attorney said.
The evidence showed Caine’s confession was coerced, said his lawyer, Russell Ainsworth. Prosecutors agreed that Caine’s civil-rights were violated, said Assistant Special Cook County State’s Attorney Andrew Levine.
Hooks dismissed the case Wednesday and Caine is expected to be freed today from Menard Correctional Center, where he had served 21 years of a life sentence.
Caine was a co-defendant of Aaron Patter-son, who was sentenced to death in the fatal stabbings of Vincent Sanchez, 73, and his wife, Rafaela Sanchez, 62, in their home in the 8800 block of South Burley in the South Chicago neighborhood. In 2003, Gov. George Ryan decided the state’s capital punishment system was “bro-ken” and pardoned Patterson along with three other Death Row inmates. But Caine was not affected by the action and remained in prison to serve his life sentence.
“It’s sad,” Ainsworth said. “Be-cause Eric Caine was sentenced to life and not death, he was left behind.” Civil rights attorney Flint Taylor, who represented Patterson, hailed the decision to release Caine.
“I am glad to hear it because I think Eric was innocent and he was tortured by guys under Burge’s command,” Taylor said. “There was another likely suspect unrelated to either Patterson or Caine. It was an injustice, but at least it’s been remedied.” Ainsworth accused police in 1986 of fail-ing to investigate another possible suspect in the murders. The man was convicted of other South Side home invasions in the 1980s.