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The People of the State of Illinois v. Stanley Wrice

December 2, 2010


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 82 C 8655 Honorable Evelyn B. Clay,

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice O'brien


Judge Presiding.

JUSTICE O'BRIEN delivered the opinion of the court: Defendant, Stanley Wrice, appeals the order of the circuit court denying him leave to file a second successive post-conviction petition alleging his confession was the product of torture perpetrated by police officers at Area 2 Police Headquarters (Area 2). The petition referenced the Report of the Special State's Attorney released in 2006 that found proof beyond a reasonable doubt that police officers under the command of Jon Burge at Area 2 and Area 3 had engaged in the torture of criminal suspects. Defendant contends the Report of the Special State's Attorney satisfies the cause-and-prejudice test allowing for the filing of the second successive post-conviction petition. We reverse and remand for a third-stage evidentiary hearing on defendant's second successive post-conviction petition.

In the early morning hours on September 9, 1982, police arrested defendant at his home along with Charles Wrice, Bobbie Joe Williams, and Rodney Benson. Defendant was a suspect in the sexual assault of K.B. (the victim), which occurred on September 8, 1982, at defendant's home in Chicago. Before trial, the court held a hearing on defendant's motion to suppress his confession to police. Defendant alleged his confession was involuntary because Sergeant John Byrne and Detective Peter Dignan severely beat him in the basement of Area 2 to coerce the confession.

At the hearing, defendant testified that after police arrested him, they brought him to a room on the second floor of Area 2. Approximately 45 minutes later, Sergeant Byrne and Detective Dignan came into the room and asked defendant to tell them what had happened at his home earlier that morning. Defendant responded that he, Bobby Williams, and Rodney Benson had gone to a store and then returned home. Not satisfied with that answer, Detective Dignan asked defendant to stand up, "unhandcuffed" his hand from the ring on the wall, and told him he was "fixing to do some police brutality."

Defendant testified Sergeant Byrne and Detective Dignan took him to a basement room at Area 2. Detective Dignan told defendant that if he confessed, he would not be in the room long. Sergeant Byrne again asked defendant about what had occurred at his home earlier that morning, and defendant repeated what he had told the officers earlier. Sergeant Byrne told defendant he was lying and hit him on the forehead with a flashlight that was approximately 15 or 16 inches long. Detective Dignan struck defendant on the leg with a solid piece of rubber and told him to tell the truth. Defendant repeated he already had told them everything he knew.

Defendant testified Sergeant Byrne and Detective Dignan took him upstairs and placed him in a room with a camera. Approximately an hour and a half later, they took him back to the basement room and told him Rodney Benson had implicated him in the offenses. Detective Dignan struck defendant on the leg with the piece of rubber. Sergeant Byrne struck defendant on the right arm with the flashlight, while Detective Dignan struck him on the left arm. Sergeant Byrne then told defendant to stand up. He did so. Sergeant Byrne turned defendant around so his back was facing them, put his hands over his head, and kicked his legs apart. Then Sergeant Byrne hit defendant multiple times in the groin with the flashlight. Detective Dignan also hit defendant in the groin with the piece of rubber.

Defendant testified they took him upstairs to speak with Assistant State's Attorney (ASA) McCurry. Detective Dignan never left the room during his discussion with ASA McCurry.

ASA McCurry testified defendant made a statement at approximately 1 p.m. and again at approximately 1:30 p.m. and that Detective Dignan was present during both interviews.

Karem Ali I. Abdal-Aziz, a Cook County paramedic, examined defendant on September 10, 1982, after his arrest. Defendant told Mr. Abdal-Aziz he had an injury on the left side of his head and other injuries resulting from blunt trauma. Defendant stated he had an injury to his groin, thighs or kneecaps, right and left biceps, left shoulder, right hand, and his breastbone or sternum. Mr. AbdalAziz asked defendant how long he had suffered from those injuries, and defendant replied, "one day." Mr. Abdal-Aziz testified he did not personally observe the injuries to defendant's groin or to his thighs or kneecaps because defendant only took his clothes off from the waist up. Mr. Abdal-Aziz filled out a form indicating he observed defendant's injuries from the waist up; however, Mr. Abdal-Aziz also testified he had no independent recollection of viewing those injuries.

Doctor Stanley Harper, a physician with Cermak Health Services, examined defendant on September 15, 1982. Defendant told Doctor Harper that one week earlier, Chicago police officers had beaten him with a flashlight and billy club. Defendant complained of pain in his groin, blood in his urine 24 to 48 hours after the attack, and scrotal tenderness. Doctor Harper found no lacerations or masses of the scrotum. Doctor Harper noted multiple healing bruises on defendant's left anterior leg. Doctor Harper concluded defendant had a history of multiple blunt trauma.

Sergeant Byrne and Detective Dignan testified they did not beat defendant, nor did they see anyone else beat defendant.

The circuit court denied defendant's motion to suppress, finding the officers to be credible. The cause proceeded to a jury trial. Testimony at trial established that on September 9, 1982, the victim, who had been drinking all day, was walking to a liquor store when several men in a car approached her. One of the men later was identified as defendant. The victim agreed to ride with them to the liquor store. When she realized the men were not driving her to the liquor store, she requested they let her out of the car. Instead, they drove her to defendant's residence on South Chappel Avenue, in Chicago. While at defendant's residence, she was beaten, burned, and raped.

Kenneth Lewis testified he was on the first floor of defendant's house while the defendant and others were upstairs with the victim. At some point, Mr. Lewis went upstairs and saw several men have sexual intercourse with the victim and he saw defendant hit the victim. Mr. Lewis also stated he tried to pull defendant off the victim. After defendant stopped hitting her, Mr. Lewis went downstairs. Later, defendant came downstairs and picked up an iron from the stove. Mr. Lewis took the iron from him and defendant went back upstairs. Mr. Lewis heard slapping sounds so he went upstairs and saw defendant beating the victim.

Mr. Lewis stated he later left the house. When he returned, he went upstairs and found the victim lying on the bed. There were burn marks in the shape of an iron on her breast and legs and she was burned from her head to her toe. Mr. Lewis returned downstairs. Shortly thereafter, defendant came downstairs and took a hot spoon off the stove. Defendant returned upstairs, at which point Mr. Lewis heard the victim ask, ...

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