Alleged victim testifies in torture trial

May 28, 2010 9:26:27 AM PDT
A second alleged victim of police torture took the witness stand Thursday in the trial of former Chicago police lieutenant Jon Burge, who is charged with perjury and obstruction of justice.

Prosecutors say Burge lied about the torture of suspects in the 1970s and 1980s.

Melvin Jones was the second witness to testify for the government in the trial. He said that in 1982 Burge shocked him and tortured him for four days trying to get him to confess to a murder he did not commit. Jones testified that he did not admit to that crime. Under cross examination, attorneys got Jones to admit that he suffered a brain aneurysm and it did affect his memory, although he added he does remember the truth.

Anthony Holmes, another man who alleges he was tortured in 1973 and forced to sign a false confession to a murder, completed his testimony Thursday.

Under cross examination, attorney Rick Beuke pummeled Holmes with questions about why Holmes didn't tell more people about the abuse while he was in jail for the murder. "You spent 1973 to 2004 and told no one about being tortured?" Holmes responded, "I told the parole board but they didn't believe me."

Holmes went on to testify, "this happened to me. I can't speak about anybody else, but this man and his crew tortured me. They didn't have to, but they did. They tried to kill me."

One of Holmes' attorneys in the 1973 murder trial was now Cook County commissioner Larry Sufferdin. He testified that Holmes was one of his first cases and stands out in his memory because Holmes told him about the torture. "What I remember is this powerful man welling up and telling this story," said Sufferdin. Under cross-examination, Sufferdin testified that he didn't remember some details of his trial and he didn't make a motion to strike the alleged false confession.

"He told me the story in 2004, and it was very painful for him to tell it at that time so many years later. It was obviously very hard for him to tell it in 1973, and it was hard for him to tell it today," said Flynt Taylor, Holmes' attorney.

Prosecutors also called a longtime friend of Holmes to testify. Louwella Woods testified that Holmes told her about the abuse and she saw Holmes at the police station with a swollen face and bleeding lip looking disheveled.

Holmes left court in tears.

The trial resumes on Tuesday.


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