Chicago men who spent combined 45 years in prison get murder charges vacated
CHICAGO — Prosecutors in Chicago on Monday threw out first-degree murder charges against a man who spent more than 22 years in prison, and moved to vacate a murder sentence in a separate case against another man who spent 23 years in prison in the face of fierce scrutiny of two Chicago Police Department officers whose work has come under a dark cloud.
In the first case, Anthony Jakes, 41, was 15 when he said he was beaten by Chicago Detective Michael Kill and coerced by Detective Kenneth Boudreau, both who worked for Commander Jon Burge, to confess to the 1991 murder of Rafael Garcia outside a sandwich shop on Chicago’s southwest side.
Chicago has already spent about $100 million in paying out settlements to victims of Burge or Chicago cops connected to him. Burge and cops under his command have faced dozens of allegations of torturing and beating mostly African-American suspects.
The statute of limitations ran out on his alleged crimes, but Burge was convicted in 2010 of perjury in civil proceedings for lying about mistreatment of suspects he oversaw. The ex-cop spent less than four years in prison.
In 2015, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a $5.5 million reparations package to alleged victims of Burge.
In a brief hearing Monday, special prosecutor Robert Milan said that after conducting a three-month review of the Jakes’ prosecution, he came to the conclusion that the evidence that was used to convict the teen at a trial in 1993 fell short of meeting the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt and asked the case to be dismissed.
In the second case, a Cook County judge agreed to vacate the conviction of Robert Bouto, 42, for a 1993 shooting death outside a Chicago high school after prosecutors agreed that Bouto deserved a new trial. Bouto, 42, spent nearly 23 years in prison before he was paroled in 2016. Bouto, 17 when he was arrested, was sentenced to 45 years in prison.
Bouto’s case is the 18th conviction to fall apart because of claims of false evidence presented by former Chicago Detective Reynaldo Guevara. Guevara has been accused of misconduct in almost 100 other cases, refused to testify as to whether he framed Bouto for murder, and asserted his Fifth Amendment right not incriminate himself in this case as well as several others.
“Both have been framed by corrupt, notorious Chicago police officers,” said Rusell Ainsworth, an attorney with the University of Chicago Exoneration Project, who is representing Bouto and Jakes.
“It is time to turn the tables. It is time to criminally investigate these detectives for all the harm they have done to so many families, to so many young men of color who were convicted of crimes they did not commit, simply because these detectives wanted to close the case rather than get to the truth.”
Ainsworth said two witnesses who identified Bouto in a police lineup both acknowledged they were swayed by Guevara. Bouto’s girlfriend at the time and another friend also told authorities that they were with Bouto at the time of the killing and that he could not have committed the murder.
Guevara, who retired more than a decade ago, has faced dozens of allegations of framing or beating confessions out of suspects during his time as a detective in a predominantly Latino neighborhood on the city’s Northwest Side.
A hearing is set for May 29, when prosecutors are expected to dismiss the charges against Bouto and formally abandon their bid for a retrial.
Bouto, who has been working as a parking valet since getting out of prison, said that the lost years weigh on him. He said that he hopes getting the conviction tossed will make him more employable. Many prospective employers have refused to give him a chance after learning of his conviction, he said.
“I feel anger, I’m mad,” Bouto said. “I lost my youth. This is something I can move forward with. Once this is gone, I can build.”
Jakes said the moment was a bit bittersweet, because his two closest relatives and supporters had passed away before he could get closure.
“I wish my grandmother and my mother were here to celebrate this victory,” said Jakes, who wore a t-shirt with is mother’s image emblazoned on it to the court hearing. “They were my biggest supporters.”
Meanwhile, another man who served 22 years in prison for a 1995 murder that was investigated by Guevara filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the Chicago Police Department over his conviction.
Murder charges against Thomas Sierra were dismissed earlier this year for the killing of Noel Andujar after prosecutors said they couldn’t meet the burden proof after a review of the investigation.
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