On Friday, a different judge in the same courthouse — citing “staggering” and “damning” new evidence — overturned Brown’s murder conviction and ordered a new trial.Cheers erupted in the courtroom, and Brown clenched his fists as Judge Clayton Crane sided with Brown’s attorneys, who said their client confessed to murder in 1990 only after being beaten by detectives working under former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge.In making his ruling, Crane said he was at a disadvantage because all three of the detectives who originally interrogated Brown took the stand this week, only to invoke their Fifth Amendment right not to testify.“My advantage is I have some additional evidence as to the behavior of some, if not all, of the detectives in this case,” Crane said. “That evidence is staggering. That evidence is damning.”Crane did not cite specific evidence and declined to elaborate after his ruling. Brown’s attorneys referred to “massive, massive documentation that these particular detectives were corrupt.”“This is a wonderful victory, not only for [Brown], but for the entire human rights movement and the entire movement against police torture in this city,” said Flint Taylor, one of Brown’s attorneys.
Victoria Safforld, Brown’s 18-year-old daughter, said, “I’m just real happy because I ain’t never had the chance to be with my father. ... I stay with a positive attitude because my daddy always stays with a positive attitude.”It was unclear Friday if Brown will be retried. He remains in the Cook County Jail. Illinois State Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office is handling several cases that include allegations of police brutality overseen by Burge.“Our goal all along has been, and continues to be, to ensure that justice is served by carefully reviewing the merits of each of these [Burge-related] cases,” said Robyn Ziegler, a Madigan spokeswoman. Ziegler said Madigan’s office has not yet made a decision about the next step in the Brown case.Brown says he is innocent. He contends detectives beat him with their fists and a metal flashlight, forcing him to confess to the 1990 gang-related murders of Delvin Botler and Curtis Sims. Brown was initially sentenced to 35 years for Botler’s murder.He was later convicted and sentenced in 1992 to death for Sims’ murder.Former Gov. George Ryan commuted Brown’s death sentence to life in prison.
During this week’s hearing, prosecutors told Crane that if Brown was truly beaten, he would have had marks on his body and he would have reported the abuse much earlier. Prosecutors described Brown as an admitted gang banger who can’t keep his stories straight.On Friday, Crane said Brown — who testified about the alleged abuse this week — was “not a good witness,” and said he has changed his stories about how he was allegedly beaten.But Crane also said he paid particular attention to the fact that none of the detectives who interrogated Brown would answer questions on the witness stand.