Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ill. man gets new trial after 18 years in prison

updated 8:20 p.m. ET, Fri., May 22, 2009

CHICAGO - An inmate who claimed police tortured him into confessing to two murders he didn't commit was granted a new trial Friday after 18 years behind bars.

Circuit Judge Clayton Crane granted the request from Victor Safforld, 38, following a hearing this week that included evidence Safforld was tortured. Based on his confession, Safforld was sentenced to death for murder. The sentence was later commuted to life.

Safforld, who was listed in police records under his alias Cortez Brown, said he was tortured by Chicago detectives working under Commander Jon Burge. Burge, 60, has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of lying under oath about the torture of African-American suspects by his police unit during the 1970s and 80s.
Safforld was convicted of two gang-related shootings in May and August 1990. He said he signed a confession only after three detectives assigned to Burge's unit beat him, deprived him of food and ignored his requests to see a lawyer.

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