ERIC CAINE, and Aaron Patterson, 25, were tried together in 1989 and convicted by separate juries of stabbing an elderly couple to death on the south side of Chicago. Caine and Patterson were arrested 11 days later after a 15-year-old girl claimed that Patterson had admitted the murders and a neighbor claimed to have seen Caine across the street from the Sanchez home around the time of the crime.
Detectives later alleged to have routinely tortured African American criminal suspects promptly obtained confessions from both men. Before their joint trial, Caine and Patterson moved to dismiss the confessions on the ground that they had been tortured. Judge John E. Morrissey denied the motion to suppress the confessions, and the defendants’ separate juries found both guilty. Patterson was sentenced to death and Caine to life in prison.
In 2000, the Illinois Supreme Court belatedly recognized in Patterson’s case that “substantial new evidence supports defendant’s claim that his confession was the result of police brutality,” and ordered the evidentiary hearing on Patterson’s torture allegations. At that point, the young woman who, at age 15, had implicated Patterson in the murders, admitted that she had lied to protect her cousin, who had been an alternative suspect in the case.
Patterson’s attorney, G. Flint Taylor, Jr., filed a petition seeking a gubernatorial pardon based on innocence, which Gov. George H. Ryan granted on January 10, 2003. In 2007, a federal civil rights suit brought against the police by Patterson was settled for $5 million. Caine remained behind bars until March 16, 2011, when prosecutors dismissed all charges against him and Cook County Circuit Court Judge William Hooks ordered his release. Caine was freed from prison the next day.
On March 27, 2012, Caine was granted a certificate of innocence. The murders were expunged from Caine’s records and he received monetary compensation from the state.
- Ex-inmate freed in Burge torture case struggles to build new life
- Law Students Played a Crucial Role in Man’s Release from Prison (Univ. of Chicago)
- Exonerated man tries to start a new life in Oak Park (Oakpark.com)
- Alleged Burge Torture Victim Going Free After 25 Years (Article and Audio) (CBS Chicago)
- Caine Marks First Week Of Freedom After 25 Years In Prison (CBS Chicago)
- Eric Caine on Windy City Live