No bond for man who claims police torture

February 26, 2010 3:15:30 PM PST
Bond has been denied for a man who is awaiting a new trial for murder. Cortez Brown has been behind bars for almost 20 years for a 1990 double murder that he maintains he did not commit.

Brown was on death row until former Governor George Ryan gave him and others clemency.

Cortez Brown says he was tortured by Chicago Police to make a false confession for the murders. But, Friday, a judge said he cannot be free while he awaits a new trial.

Cortez Brown now goes by the name Victor Safforld. Friday, when the attorneys finished talking, Brown made a personal plea to Judge Clayton Crane. He told the judge the case against him is about police corruption and lies. And then he used an analogy, saying if you have a bad tree, how can the fruit -- in his case the evidence -- be good.

It has been nine months since Judge Crane granted Brown a new murder trial. And since he has completed sentences for other crimes, his attorneys want him free on bond. Friday, Judge Crane denied that request.

"I think the judge easily could have gone the other way and could have said, 'Look, this was a terribly corrupt situation, and indeed, we can't believe any things the attorney general or the district attorney are telling us'," said Rev. Larry Turpin, Brown supporter.

Brown's lawyers contend that police detectives working under the command of former Chicago Police Commander John Burge tortured him until he confessed. Nine months ago, Judge Crane tossed out that conviction after three Chicago Police detectives pleaded the 5th when they took the stand.

Friday, Brown's daughter, who has never seen him outside of prison, was hopeful he would get bond.

"My hopes were a little high, because when you believe in something, most of the time, it happens. But for it not to happen, it brings you back to reality that everything is not going to always go as planned," said Victoria Safforld, Brown's daughter.

"The judge made a right decision today by not giving Cortez Brown a bond today, because I don't believe he deserved one," said Rosemary Sims, murder victim's sister.

The murder victim's sisters were also in court Friday. The slaying happened nearly 20 years ago on South Bishop. It's a vacant lot now, but this is where Curtis Sims was gunned down. His two sisters are bracing for a new trial. For them, the case is starting all over again.

"We're just getting passed the first hurdle. So that's a big blessing for us," said Patricia McMullan, murder victim's sister.

Brown's lawyers expect his new murder trial to begin in four to five months. So, for all those involved, time, again, moves on.

"I believe my father is going to come home. So it's just like a work in progress, step by step. And this is just another step added onto the stairs," said McMullan.

As the trial approaches, lawyers on both sides are expected to argue about the evidence that will be used in this trial, especially the information collected by the Burge's detectives.

The trial won't start for awhile, but the next court date to hear some of these arguments is coming up in April.