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Old 01-10-2003, 01:13 PM
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Default 4 Death Row Inmates Pardoned in Illinois

By JAMES WEBB, Associated Press Writer

CHICAGO - Gov. George Ryan said Friday he is pardoning four death row inmates who insist their confessions were tortured out of them by Chicago police.

Ryan, whose term in office ends Monday, made the announcement in the text of a speech he planned to deliver Friday afternoon.


Ryan said he was pardoning Madison Hobley, Stanley Howard, Aaron Patterson and Leroy Orange.

"Today, I am pardoning them of the crimes for which they were wrongfully prosecuted and sentenced to die," Ryan said.
"I have reviewed these cases and I believe a manifest injustice has occurred. I have reviewed these cases and I believe these men are innocent. I still have some faith in the system that eventually these men would have received justice in our courts but the old adage is true: Justice delayed is justice denied."

All but Howard, who was convicted of a separate crime, were expected to be released from prison Friday, Ryan said.

Ryan's speech at DePaul University was the first of two that cap the Republican governor's three-year campaign to highlight flaws in the state's capital punishment system.
Hobley's sister, Robin, burst into tears Friday morning as she read an advance copy of the speech handed out by the governor's aides as she and other guests waited for him to arrive at DePaul.

"I've read so many horrible transcripts in the last 15 years, I can't believe what I'm reading," she said. "I'm speechless right now."

DePaul is home to an anti-death penalty center founded by Andrea Lyon, a lawyer who represents Hobley.

Ryan has said he will announce before he leaves office Monday whether he will grant clemency to any or all the state's 160 death row inmates.

His other speech is scheduled for Saturday afternoon at Northwestern University law school. The school has led the attack on the state's capital punishment system and Northwestern journalism students have conducted investigations that freed several inmates. Northwestern
professors and lawyers have called for Ryan to issue a blanket clemency commuting the sentences of most death row inmates to life in prison.

Ryan declared a moratorium on capital punishment after 13 men were freed from Illinois' death row because new evidence exonerated them or there were flaws in the way they were convicted.

The most recent precedent for a blanket clemency came 16 years ago when the governor of New Mexico commuted the death sentences of the state's five death row inmates.

Patterson claims he was tortured into falsely confessing to murder after police threatened him with a gun, beat him and tried to suffocate him in 1986. He previously turned down a deal to admit guilt and drop his claim of police torture in exchange for freedom.

Hobley was convicted of murder and aggravated arson in the deaths of seven people, including his wife and infant son. He contended he made a false confession after he was beaten and nearly suffocated.

Orange was sentenced to die for taking part in the stabbing of his former girlfriend, her 10-year-old son and two others. The conviction came despite Orange's description of torture and testimony that his half brother, Leonard Kidd, was the one who stabbed the victims. Kidd, also on death row, claims he too was tortured into confessing.

Howard was convicted of murder, armed robbery and rape, among other crimes. He claims he is innocent of the crimes, but said he confessed after he was handcuffed to a wall ring, beaten and choked by police in November 1984.
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Old 01-10-2003, 01:16 PM
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MSNBC just announced that Governor George Ryan of Illinois will commute the death sentence of at least 120 people (3/4 of Illinois' death row). Maybe more commutations to come.
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