Stanley Wrice is expected to be released from prison Wednesday as he waits for a new trial on rape charges. He says he was coerced into confessing back in the early 1980s.
Tuesday may be the last night that Wrice spends in a prison cell. He has already spent more than half his 59 years locked up, and nearly all of that time he, and others on his behalf, have attempted to make the case that his was a wrongful conviction.
The wheels of justice have moved slowly for Wrice. In 1982, he was sentenced to 100 years in prison for a rape in a South Shore home. For three decades, Wrice has insisted that his confession was coerced, and on Tuesday a judge agreed, granting Wrice a new trial.
"It's taken 31 years, about what everyone has known for decades. People at Area 2 were - black men at Area 2 were tortured by white cops," said Heidi Linn Lambros, Wrice's attorney.
The Wrice conviction is another of the Jon Burge cases - the disgraced police commander now in prison for lying about coerced confessions.
Two detectives under Burge took the fifth when asked questions Monday about the Wrice case. Judge Richard Walsh said it's clear police long ago lied about how they handled the investigation.
"The evidence was weak in the first place, and it's non-existent now," said Jennifer Bonjean, Wrice's attorney.
There was never any physical evidence against Wrice. His chief accuser has recanted. The victim and a co-defendant are dead, and three courts have now concluded that his confession was coerced. Attorneys for the special prosecutor handling the case wouldn't comment, but the absence of evidence makes a retrial appear unlikely.
"Why are private lawyers pad at taxpayer expense to keep men like Stanley Wrice behind bars? The county board and Toni Preckwinkle have to look at it," said David Protess, Chicago Innocence Project.
After 31 years in prison, Stanley Wrice will be released on bond.
Gail Lewis, Wrice's daughter, was 1-year-old when he went to prison. Tuesday in court, Lewis was able to hug her father, and she will again Wednesday when he is released on bond from the state prison at Pontiac.
A court hearing Thursday may reveal whether the special prosecutor pursues a new trial against Wrice or moves to dismiss charges. Wrice will no doubt be suing the city for wrongful prosecution. So far, Chicago has paid out roughly $85 million for Burge-related cases.