Judge tosses murder convictions for 2 men who allege police torture

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Two men have been exonerated of murdering the wife of a retired Chicago police officer.

A Cook County judge tossed out convictions for Corey Batchelor and Kevin Bailey, both 48, on Tuesday.

Batchelor and Bailey claim they were beaten by police which led to their false confessions. Bailey was released Tuesday afternoon from Stateville Correctional Center after serving nearly 28 years of an 80-year sentence. Batchelor was paroled in 2004.

"Throughout the years even during my incarceration, I never, ever wanted to give up," Batchelor said.

"I never thought it would come. Not today, not this soon," said Keith Bailey, Kevin Bailey's brother.

Supporters and relatives of the men applauded as Judge Alfredo Maldonado vacated their convictions for the 1989 murder of Lula Mae Woods, the wife of a retired Chicago police officer. The victim was found stabbed to death in her South Side garage. Both men were 19 years old at the time of their arrests and neither had a criminal history.

In court, special prosecutor Robert Milan told the judge after taking seven months to re-investigate the case, "the evidence in this case does not meet the burden of beyond a reasonable doubt."

Both Bailey and Batchelor say they were beaten into making false confessions by detectives associated with former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge. Burge was fired in 1993 for torturing a suspect and convicted of lying in federal court.

"He testified under oath, and he testified that those officers kicked him and beat him," said Steve Drizin, Northwestern University Center for Wrongful Convictions.

Lawyers for the men also said new DNA tests on a hair and a bloody towel at the crime scene prove their clients are innocent.

"Today is a great day. Today is a just day. It's a day that I thought I would never see," Batchelor said.

Bailey and Batchelor wasted no time getting reacquainted over lunch. As a part of their release agreement, both men have waived their right to seek a certificate of innocence.

Their attorneys said that's not an admission of guilt.
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