Part 1 of a series on the Englewood Four case.
Part 1 of a series on the Englewood Four case.
Wrongful conviction activists and lawyers and their media lap dogs often point out that many detectives take the fifth when facing accusations of abuse against a suspect in criminal investigations.
This taking of the fifth is, they claim, a suspicious sign of the cops’ guilt. Why else wouldn’t they testify?
The answer to that question is fairly simple. Cops have watched law firms like the People’s Law Office, headed by G. Flint Taylor, chip away at the criminal justice system for four decades, so much so that no cop can be sure he will get a fair deal in the justice system. So a lot of cops follow the advice of their attorneys and remain silent.
Not all do. Taylor and his ilk never mention some key cases, like the Anthony Porter and Madison Hobley, in which the detectives fought to go to civil trial in the hopes of proving to the public once again that a vicious killer set free from prison was truly guilty. In the Porter case, the detectives won. In the Hobley case, the city settled before going to trial, infuriating the detectives. It was a devastating blow to the reputation of the police department that lingers to this day.
But it’s not just the cops who are electing to remain silent. Now it’s the Chicago media machine, and, in many ways, their silence says a lot more than the cops’.
Let’s go back to the winter of 1970.
A married couple owned a toy shop called Wee Folks on the 1700 block of East 79th Street. A man named Darrell Cannon entered the store. Outside, a friend of his was waiting in a car. The woman answered a few questions by Cannon, who said he was looking for a toy for his nephew. But when he asked to look around some more, the woman became suspicious and pushed the holdup alarm. The husband, Emanuel Lazar, came out and approached Cannon. Cannon raised his pistol and fired five rounds, then ran out of the store into a Cadillac being driven by Cannon’s accomplice.
Cannon was caught five days later. It was a solid case, with numerous witnesses and corroborating evidence. Cannon was convicted and sentenced to between 100 to 200 years in prison.
Cannon appealed the conviction for a host of reasons, one of them being his claim that his sentence was excessive. He lost the appeal. Here is what the court ruled about his lengthy sentence.
Finally, defendant contends that his sentence is excessive. We note that he was convicted of ruthlessly shooting down the elderly owner of a toy shop. The record reveals that at the hearing in aggravation and mitigation defendant, when given the opportunity to speak on his own behalf, manifested absolutely no remorse for his actions. The trial court, which of course had the opportunity to study the conduct and demeanor of defendant throughout the trial and sentencing hearing, carefully weighed his potential for rehabilitation against such factors as the nature of the crime and his character and history. In light of this record we believe that the imposition of a sentence of from 100 to 200 years was neither violative of statute nor an abuse of the trial court's discretion, and consequently we hold that it should remain undisturbed.
Well, Cannon never did much of the 100 years. In fact, he only served about ten percent of it. After eleven years, he was paroled. And, well, you know the rest of the story. In 1983 he was arrested for the murder of a drug dealer. Only this time, he was convicted in an era when offenders were claiming they were tortured into confessing by corrupt Chicago cops, in particular former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and his men.
The claims were taken up by Taylor and his law firm.
Under these claims that he was tortured, Cannon’s lawyers got the courts to toss his conviction, and prosecutors declined to try him again. He went free, the vicious murder of Emanuel Lazar at the toy store all but forgotten in the magical transformation of a killer into a folk hero.
He didn’t just get his freedom. Darrell Cannon became Flint Taylor’s poster child in Taylor’s crusade to get so-called torture victims reparations from the city, a crusade Taylor won recently when the city approved a total of $5.5 million to be paid out to fifty-seven convicted felons, often killers, claiming Burge and his men abused them.
Cannon reportedly received a part of that reparations settlement.
Taylor’s strong-arming of the city council for the reparations agreement came even amid a mounting body of evidence that there is as much corruption in the wrongful conviction movement as there ever was in any police district. But it is a mark of the political power Taylor has garnered in the city that he prevailed despite this evidence.
In an exclusive interview with Crooked City, Jon Burge assailed the torture reparations to Cannon, claiming that Cannon had committed three murders, including the murder of Lazar, and that he was a high-ranking member of the El Rukns, one of the most vicious gangs ever formed in an American city.
The chief spokesmen for G. Flint Taylor's reparations campaign are Darryl Cannon and Anthony Holmes. Cannon is a former El Rukn General who has been convicted of three separate murders in his long career, pleading guilty to the last one after cutting a deal for "time served." His first murder conviction was as a juvenile, so the police can't mention it, but I can. He still stands convicted of all three murders.
What does any of this this have to do with taking the fifth? Well, now another group is exercising their right to remain silent, the Chicago media, this time over the brutal murder of a 76-year-old man on the far south side.
The man’s name was Claude Cannon. According to news reports, he was shot numerous times in his home, gunned down, just like Emanuel Lazar was more than five decades ago.
According to news reports, Claude Cannon has a brother and roommate, none other than Darrell Cannon. Darrell told the media he did not discover the body in his own house until the day after the murder.
Cannon also made another interesting statement to the media.
"To come in and see your brother laying there with a hole in his head in the fetal position as if he was praying... I never seen anything like that before in my life," Cannon said.
Cannon has never seen anything like that before in his life? What about the vicious murder of Emanuel Lazar in 1970?
Such a story in any other city would initiate an intense media investigation. A man with murder convictions already under his belt getting a settlement from the city, and then his brother murdered just a few months later, well, that would be an irony, a twist of fate no decent journalist could resist looking into.
But Chicago is not a city with a free press. Rather, the media is controlled by a collection of ideologically sympathetic editors, reporters, and columnists who dictate what the public will hear and what they won’t.
The absolute silence by the media in the wake of the murder of Claude Cannon is a sign of this media machine. Guided by papers like the Tribune and journalists like Steve Mills, Eric Zorn, John Conroy, Carol Marin, and Mick Dumke, among others, they have carefully constructed a narrative about the police and criminals. Darrell Cannon is a central component of that narrative.
Anything that could tarnish this narrative is strictly out of bounds.
What a contrast. Just a few months ago, when Cannon won his reparations, his story and his image were splashed across every newspaper. He was being interviewed everywhere.
It is this silence by the media throughout the entire city that proves Chicago has no freedom of the press, that the imaginative life of the city follows tyrannical party lines more akin to a place like Cuba than a legitimate democracy.
Else they would all be asking some fervent questions about the vicious execution of an old man on the far south side of the most Crooked City.
Martin Preib is a Chicago Police Officer and writer. His first book, The Wagon and Other Stories From the City, was published by the University of Chicago Press. His second book, Crooked City, is available on Amazon. His articles have appeared in Playboy, The Chicagoan, Virginia Quarterly Review, Tin House, and New City. He is currently working on his third book about former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and the Hobley arson, titled Burn Patterns.
Just a few days after Chicago Police Commander Glenn Evans was acquitted on all charges that he stuck a gun in a suspect’s mouth and threatened his life, the Chicago media began covering their tracks.
The Chicago Tribune, which had been publishing one article after another claiming DNA evidence in the case indicted Evans, published a grudging editorial suggesting that Evans was, after all, falsely accused by a self-admitted street dope dealer.
The Tribune :
But the public ought to defer to the judge's evaluation of the case. Sometimes cops are falsely accused, and there was more than enough reason to think that this was one of those instances.
Not everyone, however, on the Tribune team was back peddling. Columnist Eric Zorn offered no olive branch, though Zorn was all over the case when the story first broke, saying that even the superintendent was part of what Zorn termed a “scandal,” in light of the allegations against Evans.
Rather than apologize for getting yet another story involving the Chicago Police completely wrong, Zorn posted an article on his Facebook page written by his long-time wrongful conviction soulmate Rob Warden, a former top dog of Northwestern University’s Law School.
In this shocking article—one that borders on the deranged in its barely disguised and wholly unjustified fury against the judge in the case, Judge Diane Cannon, Warden hurls one of the most vindictive, ludicrous, and nonsensical attacks on a judge ever published. Claiming that “perhaps Cannon simply is not educable,” Warden states:
Thus, even assuming that the acquittal of Glenn Evans was colorable and rational — a dubious proposition, given the absence of a plausible explanation consistent with innocence for the DNA on his service pistol — Cannon is anything but a credit to the criminal justice system. Her decision in the Evans case exemplifies a double-standard: If acquittals generally were warranted by evidentiary inconsistencies as inconsequential as those that Cannon claimed left her with reasonable doubt about Evans’s guilt — the complaining witness was inconsistent in his description of the weapon involved and told investigators at one point that the officer who assaulted him used his left hand although Evans is right-handed — there would be far, far fewer convictions.
Try reading that paragraph ten times and figuring out what Warden is saying, apart from the fact that he’s furious Cannon acquitted Evans.
That Zorn, or anyone really, still holds Warden as some legitimate authority on alleged police misconduct cases is, in and of itself, fairly shocking. It would take thousands of pages to list the abuses that took place at Northwestern University in the years Warden worked there to fully demonstrate the lengths to which Warden and his minions will go to construct a fraudulent misconduct case against Chicago Police Officers.
But suffice it to say that no judge, even those most sympathetic to wrongful conviction zealots like Warden, could convict Evans on what prosecutors brought forth as “evidence” in the Evans trial. The complainant could not identify Evans in two photo lineups. His story changed over andover again as new evidence emerged and the DNA experts who conducted the test admitted it was not conclusive evidence of Evans’ guilt.
“His [Williams’} testimony taxes the gullibility of the credulous," Judge Cannon declared.
So what the hell is Warden talking about? A judge ruled based on the evidence, or, in this case, the lack of it. So what?
It is a mark of the radicalism that permeates the anti-police campaign by Warden, Northwestern, and Zorn that Warden could attack Cannon so viciously in response to a verdict she had no choice to make. Warden’s ludicrous article—and Zorn’s willing to broadcast it to his readers on Facebook, even as his own paper was admitting the case against Evans was no good, is another example of how wrongful conviction advocates and their media allies engage in an intense attack upon anyone, be it cop, prosecutor, witness, journalist, or even a judge, who dares question their efforts to vilify the police.
One has to step back from the Evans case and ask a question: Why? Why was the Evans case so important to Warden, the Tribune, and Zorn in particular? Why did they make Evans a target of a media frenzy with evidence that quickly withered away in his trial? Why would they build such a case on the claims of street dope dealer, whose testimony “taxes the gullibility of the credulous.”
The reason becomes clear when one looks more closely at the history of nine murders, murders inextricably linked to Glenn Evans, in which the offenders were fraudulently released from prison, in large part through the collusion of journalists like Eric Zorn in cooperation with wrongful conviction activists like Rob Warden.
In the context of these nine murders, the criminal case against Evans appears as a desperate attempt by wrongful conviction activists and their media allies to undermine Evans’ credibility as these murders potentially move back into the legal and public spotlight. If they do—and they should—no one stands to lose more than Eric Zorn.
First, the history.
It was 2005 and the biggest wrongful conviction case in the state’s history, the exoneration of Anthony Porter for a double murder in 1982, was headed to a civil trial. Porter’s attorneys were trying to fleece the city out of $24 million, claiming detectives framed Porter for the shooting. The trial itself was a surprise, as no one expected the Porter civil case to make it into a courtroom. Rather, they expected a settlement. There was just too much media hype, spearheaded by Zorn and his Tribune, pushing the claim that Porter was innocent and the cops and prosecutors were crooked.
But the detectives fought desperately for a trial, hoping to show the jury and the public that, despite the claims of journalists and columnists like Zorn, Porter was the killer and should never have been released.
The detectives’ strategy was partly successful. In the trial, their attorney, Walter Jones, proved once again that Porter was the killer. The jury ruled against Porter and for the detectives. Porter, a gang enforcer, got no money.
But the detectives’ hopes that their names would be cleared, and the truth about Porter being the killer would come out, were dashed. After the verdict, Eric Zorn wrote one of the most chilling columns in the history of the city, revealing clearly just what happens to anyone who contradicts his anti-police party line. Zorn published a vicious attack on Jones, who stated moments after the civil trial that he believed Porter was the killer.
Yet Tuesday, shortly after the jury's verdict was announced, Walter Jones, the attorney representing the city, pointed to the table in the courtroom where Porter sat during the trial and told Tribune reporter Charles Sheehan: "The killer has been sitting in that room right there all day."
It was a stunning, graceless and infamous accusation.
Anthony Porter was innocent.
In this column, Zorn is almost frothing at Jones for declaring what Jones had just proven in court: Porter was guilty. Zorn condemns Jones and declares Porter innocent. It is almost impossible to look back at this column by Zorn in the context of what had just taken place in the trial as anything but willful deception.
And so, thanks mostly to Eric Zorn and his willingness to ignore all the evidence that Porter was guilty, and his willingness to attack anyone who pointed it out, the Porter-is innocent myth carried on, all the way until two years ago, when the Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez reviewed the case. After a year-long review, Alvarez attacked the conduct of Northwestern investigators who fought for Porter’s exoneration based on the claim that another man, Alstory Simon, committed the murders. Alvarez set Simon free. In releasing Simon, Alvarez singled out two men in the Northwestern investigation for their likely illegal conduct in framing Simon to free Porter, former Professor David Protess and private investigator Paul Ciolino.
The release of Simon from prison and then the declaration by a judge that he was innocent several months later revealed just how depraved was Zorn’s column after the civil trial, nine years earlier. Zorn could have looked fairly at the facts of the case all the way back in 2005. But he didn’t. In doing so, he acted as a kind of media henchman for Northwestern Professor Protess, Ciolino and the rest of the wrongful conviction zealots who had fraudulently exonerated Anthony Porter and framed Alstory Simon.
Zorn’s vicious attacks on Walter Jones, and then on those who were fighting to free Alstory Simon, are hardly different from the vicious attacks Zorn’s ally Rob Warden has now leveled against Judge Cannon in the Evans case.
See the pattern here? Disagree with us and we will launch a vicious attack on you. Zorn is the media strongman, enlisted by wrongful conviction activists not only to push their fraudulent claims, but then to attack their critics.
But Zorn’s conduct in the Porter case is only a prelude to an altogether more macabre plot in which he also played a key role. This was his writing about the arson by Madison Hobley in January of 1987, an arson in which seven people were burned to death, including Hobley’s own wife and child. Scores were injured, some of them badly burned, others when they leaped out of upper floor windows to escape the flames.
In March, 1998, Zorn wrote:
The case against Hobley, then an employed medical technician with no criminal convictions on his record—is far from overwhelming. It's based primarily on the testimony of two witnesses who said they saw him buying a can of gas shortly before the fire and the testimony of police from Area 2—a station where the city now admits suspects were routinely tortured—that Hobley confessed his guilt to them. Hobley maintains he, too, was tortured by interrogators.
Again, it is extraordinarily difficult not to see these columns by Zorn, just like his columns about the Porter case, as willful deception. The reason is that Zorn’s columns on the Madison Hobley exoneration omit two crucial words: Glenn Evans.
One of the most powerful, unequivocal pieces of evidence pointing to Hobley’s guilt was brought by Glenn Evans himself.
Several weeks before Hobley set the fire that killed the seven people, he was overheard by Evans making arson threats on a telephone call. Evans, a rookie at the time, heard the threats after he and his partner were called to a residence where Hobley’s wife was staying with a friend after she temporarily broke up with Hobley.
Evans, even though he was just a rookie, was so troubled about the arson threats that he documented them in a case report, then wrote another report to his supervisors about them. He contacted detectives working the Hobley arson after he heard about the fire. When the detectives learned of these documented threats, they were certain they had the right man.
It would not take a keen investigator to see the magnitude of Hobley’s arson threats just weeks before the actual arson. It is bombshell evidence, showing clearly that setting his wife and child on fire were foremost in Hobley’s mind for weeks. But try to find one sentence in any Zorn column about the Hobley arson acknowledging this key piece of evidence. Just one sentence. Zorn simply ignored it, ignoring that this evidence refuted Zorn’s own ludicrous claims that the evidence against Hobley was not “overwhelming.”
What kind of journalist writes about a fire that kills seven people, including two children, and ignores the indisputable fact that the offender made threats to commit this arson weeks before he actually did so?
One can see, then, what a shattering disappointment it is for the Tribune, Zorn, Warden and the other wrongful conviction supporters in the city that Evans was acquitted of all criminal charges earlier this month. Had he been convicted—if he had even taken a plea bargain—Zorn and Warden could have discredited any claims made by Evans in the Hobley case.
“Well, Evans makes these claims about the Hobley case, but, after all, here was a man convicted of sticking his pistol down the mouth of a suspect and threatening his life,” Zorn could have written.
And it isn’t just Evans’ role as a key witness in the Hobley case that contradicts Zorn’s incredible claim that the evidence against Hobley was not “overwhelming.” Here’s a few things other things Zorn never mentions about the case:
—Witnesses at the crime scene described Hobley wearing completely different clothes than what Hobley claimed, a clear sign he was trying to hide those clothes because they might have traces of the gasoline on them, the gasoline he spilled outside his apartment door and down the stairwell. Hobley admitted in his confession that he had lied about the clothes he was wearing, just as the witnesses said.
—Hobley was never observed by any witness making any attempt to rescue his son or wife, though he participated in the rescue of others. He was never observed making any attempt to call up to them in their apartment. What husband/father wouldn’t be manic in his attempt to rescue his own wife and child?
—Hobley’s changing accounts of his escape from the building while his wife and child remained inside contradicted the vast forensic evidence of the fire. Fire investigators testified that if Hobley had gone out into the hallway of the building to investigate, as he claimed, he would have been incinerated.
—Hobley eventually told detectives he suspected his mistress was the real offender, yet in the hours after the fire he never made any attempt to notify the police, or any authorities, about the woman he says he believed just burned his own wife and son to death. Who believes they know who just killed their own wife and child and doesn’t bother to alert authorities?
—Hobley failed a lie detector test, then confessed to the detective administering it. He then confessed again to two detectives. If the detectives had framed Hobley, they would have had to bring this other detective in on their conspiracy, quite a tall request in a quintuple murder case covered extensively by the media. Hobley provided details of buying the gas in his confession, details that matched what two witnesses, one of them the owner of the gas station, said. Were these witnesses part of a conspiracy as well?
The evidence goes on and on that Hobley was, in fact, overwhelmingly guilty, just as the evidence showed Anthony Porter was overwhelmingly guilty of a double murder. The jury in the Hobley trial was convinced, so much so that the jury voted to give Hobley the death penalty.
The truth is that Zorn’s columns about the Porter and Hobley cases are emerging as some of the most disturbing columns ever written by a Chicago journalist.
But hold on. It gets worse.
Zorn and his allies who were claiming Hobley was innocent scored one Pyrrhic victory in their crusade to undermine the case based on evidence. In an appeal by Hobley’s attorneys to the Supreme Court, the court was troubled enough by some claims about a gas can taken recovered by detectives to demand an evidentiary hearing. Judge Dennis Porter conducted these hearings. In them, Hobley’s attorneys made various arguments of a police conspiracy based on a gas can, which detectives recovered from the building the day after the fire. True to form, the attorneys alleged that detectives planted the gas can as part of their frame-up of Hobley.
What followed was two years of intense scrutiny by Judge Porter into every facet of the gas can conspiracy theory by Hobley’s lawyers, a theory Porter soundly rejected after the lengthy process. In the end, Porter openly ridiculed many of the claims made by Hobley and his attorneys.
Zorn’s reaction after he attended the hearing in which Judge Porter rejected the conspiracy theories?
Accordingly, the other half of my expectation Monday morning was that [Judge] Porter would do just as he did--shade the benefit of the doubt on each issue to the prosecution, thereby allowing the Cook County state's attorney's office to keep the lid on this can of worms a little while longer.
In other words, Zorn attacked Porter, claiming Porter was not ruling on the evidence, or again, the lack of it, but simply bailing out prosecutors, just as Warden attacked Judge Cannon in the wake of her not guilty ruling in the Evans case, and just as Zorn attacked attorney Walter Jones for daring to claim that Anthony Porter was guilty of a double murder.
See the pattern again here? Disagree with us and we’ll attack you like a bunch of rabid wolves.
What Zorn will not admit is the obvious: It would have been impossible for the courts to extend any more latitude to Hobley’s attorneys to prove their loony theory that Hobley was innocent.
Tellingly, Zorn also fails to inform his readers that Judge Porter also ruled that a witness brought forth by Hobley’s attorney in the gas can saga—an inmate in prison—was lying.
Prosecutors in the Hobley case:
Judge Porter’s ruling was issued after two years of discovery, including depositions, and after hearing voluminous testimony. Significantly, Judge Porter ruled that the linchpin of Hobley’s “planted can” theory, fellow arsonist Donnell McKinley, committed perjury in attempting to support this conspiracy hearing.
It wouldn’t be the last time one of Zorn’s treasured wrongful conviction theories would be rife with witnesses accused of lying.
Hold on, though, it gets even worse for Zorn. There are even more fundamental ties between the corruption in the Porter exoneration and in Hobley’s.
One of the bombshell developments in the Hobley exoneration was a claim of attempted bribery by a central witness, Andre Council—one of the witnesses who saw Hobley purchase the gasoline shortly before the fire. Council told prosecutors that one of Hobley’s attorneys, DePaul Law School Professor Andrea Lyon, and a private investigator, Paul Ciolino—the same Ciolino who worked the Porter case—paid a visit to Council’s home. There, Council said, Lyons and Ciolino attempted to bribe Council into changing his testimony against Hobley.
Zorn’s columns cover this chilling sign of bribery in an arson that left seven people dead, right?
Nope. Not a word from Zorn.
Nevertheless, Council’s statement is a crucial bridge from the Hobley case to the Porter, tied together by private investigator Paul Ciolino, who worked on both cases and stands accused of bribing statements from witnesses in both exonerations, including bribing the so-called confession from Alstory Simon in the Porter case.
Zorn is at the center of these cases as a columnist who wrote extensively about both of them, claiming the convicted killers were innocent. But more and more, these nine murders cast a dark shadow on Zorn and the Chicago media’s relationship to the wrongful conviction movement.
These nine murders also provide a chilling explanation why this media machine seemed almost hysterical in their drive to see Evans convicted in a case that held so little legitimate evidence of his guilt from the outset.
No doubt Zorn and his entourage assumed—hoped, really—that Evans would have taken a deal and pled guilty to a lesser charge. But they underestimated Evans’ courage, his willingness to fight the case at the risk of everything. The fact that Evans witnessed Hobley’s crime and then witnessed this mass killer walk free from death row no doubt was a pivotal reason Evans fought, and prevailed.
And that may not be the end of it for Zorn. Evidence mounts that more cases will emerge undermining the legitimacy of his columns for the last two decades.
Public relations executive and former Tribune reporter, Dan Curry, for example, has published a blog, What Really Happened in Paris, focusing on corruption in another downstate double murder case that led to the exoneration of two convicted killers.
That case, spearheaded again by Northwestern University’s David Protess, was covered extensively by Eric Zorn.
In that case, Curry questions why Zorn at one time covered every aspect of the story when he was alleging a wrongful conviction, but is now silent when new evidence emerges that the original offenders may be guilty after all.
In Zorn’s case, it simply is a bridge too far to declare himself possibly wrong about the numerous columns he wrote about the case. He has already declared himself possibly wrong about the Anthony Porter case, also involving Northwestern University. One case could be an anomaly — two might be a pattern.
One wonders: Are the nine murders hanging over Zorn’s head now turning into eleven? What will be the final tally?
There is another reason why Zorn and his wrongful conviction allies would want Evans discredited. Zorn and his entourage of media colleagues built much of their movement in painting former Commander Jon Burge and his men as racist thugs, as cops who went around torturing suspects. Those allegations never went anywhere in a courtroom until the Hobley case came along. In the end, Burge’s sole conviction in connection with the torture allegations arose from the Hobley case.
What will it mean for Zorn, Warden, Northwestern and the rest of the wrongful conviction gang when the Hobley exoneration case is revealed as one of the greatest frauds ever perpetuated in the state’s history?
No wonder they all wanted Evans’ head so badly, his head on a wrongful conviction platter, paraded all around the most Crooked City.
Martin Preib is a Chicago Police Officer and writer. His first book, The Wagon and Other Stories From the City, was published by the University of Chicago Press. His second book, Crooked City, is available on Amazon. His articles have appeared in Playboy, The Chicagoan, Virginia Quarterly Review, Tin House, and New City. He is currently working on his third book about former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and the Hobley arson, titled Burn Patterns.
People around the country are becoming anxious over the growing lawlessness and violence throughout the country.
They’ve even coined a phrase for it: The Ferguson Effect.
It’s one of the first times the national media acknowledged that the movement to vilify the police, as was the case in Ferguson, is having a dire effect on policing, particularly in large cities.
Conservative columnist Patrick Buchanan describes it as well as anyone:
This year, 24 cops have been gunned down. And the day after deputy Goforth’s execution, “Black Lives Matter!” showed up at the Minnesota state fair chanting, “Pigs in a blanket! Fry ’em like bacon!”
Last fall, when mobs blocked highways after the death of Eric Garner in an encounter with police on Staten Island, the hoodlum chant was: “What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want ’em? Now!”
Soon after, two cops in Brooklyn were executed in their patrol car…
For some of the evils of the last century we thought we left behind seem to be returning, as is the old indulgence of lawlessness when done by those claiming some “grievance” against society.
Violent crime is rising again, a direct result, many believe, of a new police reluctance to be aggressive in enforcing the law, to avoid violent clashes with criminals and suspects, the so-called “Ferguson effect.”
The lead story in the Sept. 1 New York Times reported a surge in murders in the city after the Eric Garner incident, and even greater surges in Milwaukee, St. Louis, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Chicago.
A closer look at the Times figures reveals something more disturbing. Chicago, a city with not half the population of New York, exceeds New York in murders this year, 294 to 208.
Washington, a city not a tenth as populous as New York, had half as many murders, 105. Baltimore, where Freddie Gray died in police custody, and six officers have been charged in his death, has had more murders this year, 215, than New York, though New York has 14 times the population.
The intense media pressure to vilify the police in Ferguson might seem to be new to the rest of the country, but it is all too familiar to members of the law enforcement community in Chicago.
Here, city cops have been dealing with it for more than 40 years.
Older cops, now mostly retired, can trace its origins to the 1968 riots in Chicago. There has always been bitter contention over who was at fault for the violence in Chicago at the convention, the protestors or the police. Many of the narratives, written by “protesters,” placed the blame on the cops.
But the truth is that even by 1968, a radical, violent and often revolutionary collection of activists was taking shape in the city, and taking aim at the police. Initially, they threw rocks and bottles at the police, then shot them and set off bombs.
From City Journal:
Numerous histories from participant-memoirists unsurprisingly second the “police riot” verdict. Cathy Wilkerson, whose cadre unleashed stink bombs and phoned bomb threats to local hotels, notes in her recent memoir that the “rampant brutality” of Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley “was exposed for all the world to see.” For Tom Hayden, the coordinator of the Chicago protests who was arrested for deflating a police car’s tire, “rioting police” exhibited “brutal behavior” and “mindless sadism.” Bill Ayers, who brags of pelting Chicago cops with marbles fired from a slingshot, decries the “violent police assaults” and police “rioting.” But far from political innocents clubbed into reality by sadistic policemen, the activists who squared off with cops were generally movement veterans who went to Chicago looking for a fight. As Jeff Jones and Mike Spiegel of New Left Notes wrote six months before the convention, “to envision non-violent demonstrations at the Convention is to indulge in pleasant fantasying.” By 1968, the movement had moved from mere protest to open confrontation. Leaving for Chicago, Terry Robbins—who, 18 months later, would blow himself up while constructing a bomb intended for a soldiers’ dance—told comrades: “Let’s go kick some ass.”
The figure most closely associated with the Chicago protests is Tom Hayden, now point man for Progressives for Obama. Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) activist Gerry Long recalled to David Horowitz that Hayden noted the benefits of firebombing Chicago police cruisers. “I heard Tom Hayden speak, in chillingly cavalier tones, about street actions which would run the risk of getting people killed,” Todd Gitlin remembered in The Sixties. In a conversation with me, Mike Klonsky, SDS’s national secretary during the convention riots, described how Hayden plotted to scatter nails over a nearby highway…
The behind-closed-doors Hayden occasionally ventured into public view. In Chicago, he called on activists to “avenge” the injuries of co- organizer, Rennie Davis, who had suffered a concussion battling the police. Hayden exhorted the throngs: “Make sure that if blood is going to flow, it will flow all over this city.” Hayden wasn’t alone among future Chicago Eight defendants in his violent rhetoric. “If a pig comes up to us and starts swinging a billy club,” Black Panther Bobby Seale counseled, “and you check around and you got your piece, you got to down that pig in defense of yourself! We’re going to barbecue us some pork!” Abbie Hoffman called for “a huge orgasm of destruction,” and (along with sidekick Jerry Rubin) daydreamed of poisoning Chicago’s water supply with LSD. Hearing the reckless pronouncements of the riot’s ringleaders, Americans—already weary from several years of deadly urban rioting across the country—supported the Chicago police by greater than 2–1 margins. “The whole world is watching!” the protestors chanted, but polls showed that not everyone saw events their way.
But over the course of several decades their war on the police and criminal justice became more sophisticated.
To understand this evolution, one must look at a crucial event in Chicago more than a decade after the 1968 riots.
It was 1992. Mayor Richard Daley, the leader of perhaps the country’s most formidable political machine, faced an ominous decision. The same group of lawyers and activists who had rioted or supported the rioting at the 1968 Democratic Convention claimed that a Chicago Police Commander, Jon Burge, had tortured murder suspects.
The claim by these lawyers was based primarily on the case of Andrew Wilson, a career thug who gunned down two police officers during a traffic stop in February of 1982. The murder of the police officers took place during a period of unprecedented violence against police—the kind of violence against the police many of these radicals had called for in the 1960s. In one month of 1982, five cops were gunned down, four fatally, in the same year in which the city logged some 900 murders.
Wilson was captured several days after he murdered the two officers and was interrogated by Burge and his men in Area 2 on the far south side of Chicago. Up until this case, Burge was considered one of the best cops in the city, with one of the best homicide resolution rates. Tough cases, like the Wilson murders, were often given to him.
After Burge and his men interviewed Wilson and got a confession from him, Wilson was transported by a police wagon to central detention downtown. When he arrived, he was badly beaten. The lockup keeper would not accept the badly bruised Wilson, so the two wagon men took him to the hospital, where a doctor and nurses watched one of the wagon men become unhinged in dealing with Wilson, calling him names, pulling out his gun and threatening him.
It was never clear who abused Wilson. Many believed it was the wagon men. But the fact that four cops had been killed was clearly more than some cops could handle.
There was really never much evidence against Burge and his men, despite the claims by Andrew Wilson, claims that were his last, desperate hope of avoiding an almost certain death penalty, which he did. Wilson got off death row in large part because he had been beaten.
Nevertheless, it made little sense that detectives would leave marks all over Wilson, giving him an instant defense when they were trying desperately to build a case that would get him executed.
Based in large part on Wilson’s wounds, a group of lawyers and activists, spearheaded by the People’s Law Office (PLO), began pressing their claims that Burge and his men were racist monsters that tortured confessions out of suspects.
The PLO tried twice to sue Burge and his men over the abuse against Wilson.
Twice they failed.
“We’re sure something happened to him [Wilson], but maybe he inflicted it on himself,” one juror said after the first trial.
“We never would have given him money,” said another.
Despite these losses in the courtroom, a courtroom in which lead PLO attorney G. Flint Taylor would be held in contempt several times, turning the trial into a kind of circus, much as ultra-left attorney William Kunstler had done in his defense of the Chicago seven after the 1968 riots, the PLO pressed its case.
In doing so, Taylor and the PLO claimed they were fighting for justice and human rights, something that struck many people in the criminal justice system as ludicrous, since the PLO and many of their associates were comprised of self proclaimed revolutionary Marxists with a long history of supporting domestic terrorists, including the FALN bombers and the Weather Underground. These groups were extraordinarily violent. Later, they would be tied to black revolutionary groups that also committed many murders, including the murder of police officers.
In fact, the PLO got its start representing family members of the Black Panthers, who also called themselves revolutionary Marxists, and spoke endlessly about “killing the pigs.” Two of their members, Mark Clark and Fred Hampton, had been killed during a shootout with police in 1969, when a joint Chicago Police and FBI group tried to serve a warrant on a west side apartment that contained a weapons cache by the group.
The PLO’s formation to represent the Panthers typified the bridge-building between the upper middle class terrorist organizations like the Weather Underground and the urban black militants like the Panthers in the late 1960s, all of whom shared a philosophy calling for violence against the police, all of it shallowly disguised in the rhetoric of human rights.
A chief BPP [Black Panther Party] priority was to harass police officers under the mask of a “political” program. The “self defense” part of that program involved Panther members appearing in public places heavily armed, as a means of standing up defiantly to “police brutality” and America’s allegedly racist power structure. This—coupled with the Party's anti-police (“pig”) rhetoric—caught the political fancy of Sixties radicals who considered themselves to be at war with the United States and were beginning to flirt with “revolutionary violence.”
To be sure, BPP was engaged in veritable warfare against the police, not merely “defending the people” against them. As BPP leader Eldridge Cleaver told Reason magazine years later (in 1986): "We [Panthers] would go out and ambush cops, but if we got caught we would blame it on them and claim innocence."
Whenever possible, BPP actively sought out opportunities to spark confrontations with police. On February 21, 1967, for instance, Huey Newton provided an armed escort for Betty Shabazz, widow of Malcolm X, during a Bay Area speaking engagement. When newsmen tried to get closer to Shabazz than the Panthers wished to allow, police tried to enforce order with their nightsticks. In response, Newton and his fellow Panthers promptly loaded shells into their shotguns. After a tense standoff of several minutes, both sides backed off. Newton, however, boasted that the Panthers had “won” as a result of their “superior firepower.” The incident propelled Newton and the Panthers to national prominence.
The Black Panthers would lie about police violence in an effort to cast the police as the villains, distracting the gullible left from seeing the groups own growing criminal undertakings and violence.
But radical mythmakers tried to snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat. They portrayed the Panthers killed in the conflict as not merely dead, but as victims of "genocide." Thus, in 1969, Newton attorney Charles Garry claimed that 31 (or 29 or 28, depending on what day he was being interviewed) Panthers had been "assassinated" by law-enforcement authorities in the preceding two years. While it was true that approximately that many Panthers had indeed been killed since the group's inception, almost all of them had died in the course of criminal activities or in conflicts with other black militants. Of those Panthers who did die at the hands of police, all had provoked the shootouts.
The PLO represented the family members of Hampton and Clark by filing a wrongful death lawsuit. The PLO claim—big surprise here—that the deaths of Hampton and Clark were executions by the police. The PLO engaged a strategy they have been using ever since: making their clients the victims and the police the criminals.
The tenuousness of Panther martyrdom was seen even in the most celebrated claim of innocent victimhood—the death of Chicago Panther Fred Hampton. According to Garry and other Panther supporters, Hampton had been wantonly murdered in his sleep as part of a police-FBI conspiracy. While it was true that Hampton was killed in a crossfire of bullets while sleeping off a drug binge, it was also true that when the police knocked on the door of the apartment, which served as a storage facility for all manner of BPP weaponry, they were greeted by a blast from Panther Mark Clark's shotgun, which initiated the shootout.
A decade after the PLO had formed to represent the Panthers, Andrew Wilson’s wounds provided a prime opportunity for the law firm to push their anti-police agenda once again.
The fact that Burge was also a decorated Vietnam veteran tied into the firm’s fervent anti-war platform as well. The lawyers at the PLO made the giant leap that Burge learned how to torture confessions while in Vietnam, then came back to the states and employed the tactics as a police commander. The assumption in the claims by the PLO was that the police department was in sympathy with Burge’s racist crimes, because he was quickly promoted through the department and never disciplined for any torture, so the entire police department was painted with a veneer or racism, torture, and abuse.
Even though the PLO was shut down in court in their crusade against Burge and his men, they pressed their claims with a fervency and aggression only the most radicalized activists can muster. Talk to a PLO founding member today and he may refer to the mission not in legal terms, but in revolutionary ones, calling their crusade against Burge as part of “the movement.”
As it was, the campaign against Burge by the PLO at first failed miserably, including the two civil trials, where the trial antics of PLO attorney G. Flint Taylor earned the scorn of lawyers and reporters alike.
But in time, the PLO prevailed, based in large part because Chicago was governed by a crooked political machine that acquiesced to emerging political factions, regardless of their legitimacy.
One inroad was through higher education. In their transformation from terrorists or terrorist supporters to mainstream lawyers, academics, and journalists, many of the surviving 1960s revolutionaries in “the movement” would end up in some of Chicago’s most prestigious universities, where they set up law and journalism departments aimed at attacking the criminal justice system. Former Weather Underground (WU) bomber Bernadine Dohrn, for example, ended up at Northwestern University working on wrongful conviction cases. Her husband, former WU bomber Bill Ayers, got a job at the University of Illinois.
In Chicago, crime not only pays, it grants tenure.
A second inroad was into the local media. The PLO and other “movement” activists held relationships with key journalists in the city who acted as their personal PR agents, rarely reviewing the full record of evidence in murder cases. Instead, they merely parroted the claims of law firms like the PLO and of the Innocence Project at Northwestern University.
Try finding, for example, one single article by a Chicago media outlet about the PLO detailing their long history supporting the Weather Underground when Weather Underground members were on the FBI’s most wanted list and living underground.
Furthermore, these journalists would use their positions to vilify anyone who questioned wrongful conviction myths. Chief among them was Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn. Even if a trial proved one again that a wrongful conviction case was a complete falsehood, as it did in 2005, Zorn was willing to assail the claims, and the lawyer who made them, in his columns.
A third inroad was into the black caucuses in the inner cities. From the earliest days representing the Black Panthers, the PLO had established ties to African American political leaders. When Black Panthers like Bobby Rush—who had been at the Panther apartment shortly before the shoot out in 1969—moved into the political establishment, much as former WU members had moved into academia, these ties became invaluable.
All of brings us back to the dilemma Mayor Daley faced in 1992.
Here is why.
In 1982, when Andrew Wilson was arrested for murdering the two police officers and then showed up at central detention badly beaten, Daley was the chief prosecutor in the city. Two doctors had documented Wilson’s abuse, but Daley had never done anything about it.
Now, as the mayor, he was being confronted by leaders in the African American community asking him why he didn’t do anything about it back then and why he wasn’t doing anything about Jon Burge now.
Organizations had formed demanding action, just as they had in the 1960s. They marched, protested, shouted.
And there is one political reality every mayor in Chicago had to face: It is virtually impossible to maintain the position of Mayor in Chicago without the black vote.
So Daley did what many leaders of political machines do—and what he did dozens of times in the decades he ran the city with an iron fist: He threw an underling under the bus and let that underling take the fall.
Daley appointed a new director of the agency that oversees police misconduct, the Office of Professional Standards (OPS), to look once again into the allegations against Burge and his men. Her name was Gayle Shines.
It is important to remember that this decision from Daley came after the PLO lost two trials in their attempt to pin torture allegations on Burge and after previous OPS investigations nearly ten years earlier had not sustained any complaints against Burge in connection with Andrew Wilson.
Sure enough, this second OPS investigation concluded there was widespread abuse in the police department and recommended that Burge should be fired.
Cops and the cop union were furious, as were attorneys representing them.
Then FOP President John Dineen in the Tribune:
Dineen said it was unfair for the Office of Professional Standards to file charges nine and a half years later while the agency was “into its third director. Francis Nolan [a former director] couldn’t find anything wrong. David Fogel [who succeeded Nolan] couldn’t find anything wrong.
“Suddenly, Gayle Shines, finds something wrong. Was there something wrong, or was the political atmosphere such that they had to find something wrong?”
William Kunkle, Burge’s attorney:
“I think it is atrocious that OPS would reinstate these charges after nine and a half years, when Andrew Wilson has never made himself available to any prosecutorial agency or the OPS to be interviewed with respect to these charges.
Police Board hearings were convened to determine whether Burge would be fired in light of this last OPS investigation.
The family members of the two police officers gunned down by Andrew Wilson had already relived the murders through two criminal trials and two civil trials. Now they were forced once again to relive them and endure Wilson’s claims in another proceeding, one more resembling a kangaroo court than a legitimate trial proceeding.
This was, after all, a man who was supposed to have been executed.
It didn’t matter. It was all part of a process by the PLO to transform killers and other violent criminals into victims and make the police the offenders.
And if it meant making the family members of the victims reliving time and again the horrible murder of their loved ones, well, then, so be it.
As it was, Daley turning OPS into a kind of instrument of the PLO was perhaps the most crucial moment in the entire history of “the movement,” when the most radical, lawless groups on the left coalesced and compelled a city’s institution, OPS, to bend to their will, even after they had utterly failed to push their cause in the courts.
From the moment the PLO compelled Daley to fire Burge, “the movement” had its foot in the door, and the “Ferguson Effect” was taking shape.
Bit by bit, these radicals were able to undermine city institutions, compelling them to betray the obligations of their office, just as Daley had perverted the office OPS to go after Burge and his men.
While their advocates celebrated the firing of Burge as a grand achievement for justice and human rights, in reality it was a fundamental breakdown of the democratic process, one that took shape, ironically, through the city’s Democratic Party.
The emergence of “the movement” pushed the Democratic Party far to the left, away from the traditional power bases of representing the working class and fighting for reform within the system by using the government as an instrument to help the poor, unfortunate and the weak. Instead, the party morphed into a kind of schizophrenic state, in which, on the one hand, it was supposed to bolster the democratic system, but, on the other, gave itself over to factions who did not like democracy at all—whether it was the upper class Marxists from the 1960s who became terrorists or terrorist supporters, like the PLO and WU, or black militant organizations like the Black Panthers, or even starry-eyed students spellbound by the possibility that they might release an “innocent” man from prison.
Soon after the PLO got Burge fired they began a larger offensive against the police. They and their allies began claiming that the police, even ones who had never worked with Burge, had also framed innocent men for killings. Dozens of killers were set free, even some from death row.
It didn’t matter that even a cursory review of key wrongful conviction claims showed them to be not only false, but completely absurd.
Consider the most influential wrongful conviction case, Anthony Porter—sent to death row after being convicted of killing a couple in a park in 1982—maintained that the detectives had attempted to torture him into confessing, but he would not give in.
That would be quite a strange event, since the detectives never encountered Porter in the course of their investigation. How, then, could they have tortured him?
This simple fact was never even acknowledged by the Chicago media as they ran one story after another about the detectives framing Porter, in strict obedience to the party line of activists like the PLO, now the emerging power brokers in the city’s political machine.
Then there was the fact that detectives found two groups of witnesses in the Porter case who all came up with the same description of Porter murdering a couple in a park. The two groups had never met each other, and made their statements in front of several people, not just detectives. So how could detectives have conspired to make up a false story?
And if two groups of witnesses came up with the same story— how could their accounts that Porter was the offender be false?
It was impossible and a key reason why the jury in 2005 refused to give Anthony Porter a dime in his civil lawsuit against the detectives in the case. The jury realized Porter was the killer, despite the fact that wrongful conviction activists had conspired to get him out.
Time and again, one pulls back the cover of these wrongful conviction theories and their claims collapse under the barest scrutiny.
It’s not just that OPS, now called IPRA, has succumbed to the anti-police hysteria generated by the city’s wrongful conviction advocates. These advocates have made far greater inroads.
One of the crowning achievements of “the movement” is their undermining of the prosecutor’s office.
There is ample evidence, for example, that prosecutors in the Porter case violated the oaths of their office when they took a confession from another man they knew to be false, a confession that allowed Anthony Porter to get out.
It was 1999 when Northwestern University Professor David Protess and his private investigator Paul Ciolino, strong allies of the PLO, came forward with a recorded confession to the murders Anthony Porter had been convicted of, a confession made by Alstory Simon.
Not everyone in the prosecutor’s office bought the confession. The second in command at the office, Thomas Epach, advised Cook County State’s Attorney Dick Devine not to let Porter out of prison and not to indict Simon. But Devine, facing the unrelenting pressure of PLO allies of Protess and Northwestern and their media allies, went ahead anyway.
In doing so, the prosecutor betrayed not only Alstory Simon, an innocent man, but also the cops involved in the Porter case, and the entire police department, as the Porter exoneration initiated a flood of equally dubious cases.
It gets worse.
Furious at the turn of events, Epach stayed true to the oaths of his office and initiated a grand jury investigation into the Porter exoneration. Sure enough, the Northwestern case fell apart under scrutiny. A vast body of evidence showed Porter was in fact guilty.
Nevertheless, Devine pressed forward with the exoneration of Porter and taking the confession of Simon. His underling, Thomas Gainer, marched into court and took a confession from Simon when he, Gainer, knew full well there was vast exculpating evidence.
Prosecutorial misconduct doesn’t get much worse than this, perhaps the greatest prosecutorial corruption in modern history, and it was prosecutorial misconduct in the service of the wrongful conviction movement, no different than when Daley turned OPS into a tool of the PLO seven years earlier.
Even fifteen years after Porter was let out, when the next head of the prosecutors office, Anita Alvarez, was finally forced to confront Simon’s wrongful conviction, Alvarez let Simon out of prison, but refused to acknowledge the clear corruption by her predecessor. Once again, the prosecutor’s office was protecting wrongful conviction activists, covering up their corruption that gave them power.
These are examples of how the PLO’s movement infiltrated OPS and the prosecutor’s office. But it is not the end of the story.
A few years after “the movement” sprang Porter from prison, they compelled one of the most corrupt governors in the history of the state, George Ryan, into freeing four other convicted killers, one of them, Madison Hobley, who was convicted of setting a fire that killed seven people on the south side in 1987.
Governor George Ryan liberated these men from prison despite the fact that no legal proceeding had ever suggested they were innocent. It was the kind of end around the criminal justice system typical of “the movement.” Remember, the PLO utterly failed to win a case in court against Burge and his men, so they turned to a kind of arm twisting of the Mayor and the political machine. Both instances were examples of democracy undermined through intimidation and manipulation.
Never mind that the evidence of Hobley’s guilt is overwhelming, that he confessed several times. Never mind that some of the same players involved in the Porter scandal were also involved in the Hobley case, accused of making the same bribes to witnesses in the Hobley case that they have been accused of in the Porter case, and others.
Hobley set the fire that killed seven people, but he got out of prison and was given $6 million as a settlement for his “wrongful conviction,” a complete compitulation of the entire city and state to the movement through a backroom deal with one of the most corrupt governor in the state’s history.
And from this travesty something else took shape. It was through the Hobley case that the PLO and the wrongful conviction lawyers finally obtained their trophy: the criminal conviction of Jon Burge in 2011. Through the course of a civil lawsuit filed by Burge’s attorneys, Burge denied ever abusing anyone.
Based on this statement, federal prosecutors indicted Burge for perjury and obstruction of justice and he was convicted. Burge was convicted in a case arising from a man who got away with incinerating his own family, a staggering indication of just how deeply “the movement” had penetrated the country’s legal system.
Now the entire political system in Illinois seems to be working on behalf of the PLO and other wrongful conviction law firms and university departments.
In the waning moments of his doomed administration, Governor Patrick Quinn early this year released prisoners without explanation or justifying why they should be released. These were prisoners who had been supported by wrongful conviction law firms. One of the offenders had shot three police officers and been convicted on four counts of attempted murder.
That’s right. Chicago cops watched a man who had tried to murder four of their own during a traffic stop walk right out of prison without explanation, in defiance of the courts.
Since that decision, Quinn is nowhere to be seen, unable to be questioned as to why he would betray the legal system and the police in particular.
Another man released by Quinn at the same time had been convicted of perjury in a wrongful conviction case where lawyers were trying to secure the freedom of two men convicted of two grisly gang murders.
The earlier this year, Flint Taylor at the PLO bagged perhaps his greatest trophy of all. The Chicago City Council voted unanimously to grant “reparations” to supposed victims of Burge torture. Inmates from the 1970s, some convicted of murder, might now be able to garner millions from the taxpayers merely by claiming they were tortured by Burge, even when there was no evidence of abuse.
The vote compelled Burge to break his long silence with the Chicago media and make a comment to Crooked City:
This entire scenario is being manipulated by lawyers like G. Flint Taylor and his ilk. They have been getting rich for years filing specious lawsuits against Chicago Police Officers, the City of Chicago and other government entities. They know that 99% of the time the City will settle the lawsuit rather than go to trial because it’s cheaper. The City never admits wrongdoing on their part or the part of the individual defendants (police officers) when they settle.
Evidence is slowly emerging that clearly shows what happened to the dedicated Chicago Police Detectives who fought, as best we could, the worst, most violent predators on the South side of Chicago. To understand, all one has to do is review the long record of unethical criminal activity exhibited by academics and students at Northwestern University, particularly in the case of Anthony Porter, a man obviously guilty of two murders, but released from custody after an "investigation" conducted by NU professor David Protess and his students. There has never been a case with more blatant Subornation of Perjury than when they framed an innocent man, Alstory Simon, for the crime committed by Porter.
States Attorney Alvarez admitted the criminal behavior on the part of the crew from Northwestern when she announced she was dropping the case against Alstory Simon and petitioning for his release. This is not an unusual instance on the part of the Northwestern crew and slowly emerging evidence will condemn their participation in helping free other guilty criminals.
Working to free guilty, vicious criminals by the likes of G. Flint Taylor and others like him, as well as the Northwestern cabal, all with a radical political agenda, has created a thriving cottage industry in Chicago. These private attorneys grow rich because the City of Chicago is afraid to defend the lawsuits filed by these human vultures. Ask the mayor and City Counsel members how many relatives of the victims of these crimes they spoke with before deciding on their "Reparations.”
The chief spokesmen for G. Flint Taylor's reparations campaign are Darryl Cannon and Anthony Holmes. Cannon is a former El Rukn General who has been convicted of three separate murders in his long career, pleading guilty to the last one after cutting a deal for "time served." His first murder conviction was as a juvenile, so the police can't mention it, but I can. He still stands convicted of all three murders.
Anthony Holmes also had a long career. During one of his first visits to prison he was the "Barn Boss" at Statesville, when Statesville was the toughest prison in Illinois. That means he ran the prison. He was on Chicago's "10 Most Wanted" list when he was arrested for Murder. He subsequently gave a court reported confession to the crime. There was NO MOTION TO SUPRESS the confession. In fact there was no mention in public by Holmes that he was "tortured" until over a decade later, after he met G. Flint Taylor.
By the way, he claims he did 30 years for the murder. The truth is he was paroled after 11 years and got busted making a hand-to-hand dope buy from an undercover agent shortly after he was released. He went back to the joint for the Parole Violation and served a few more years. Holmes was one of the leaders of a group called "The Royal Family" which consisted of 31 ex-cons who patterned their operations after the mafia. They committed a string of commercial armed robberies unheard of at the time, and, if one of their crews got caught, they simply murdered the witnesses. I find it hard to believe that the City's political leadership could even contemplate giving "Reparations" to human vermin like them.
The media's long silence on these activities makes them complicit in the fraud being perpetrated on Chicago and the citizenry. When the true evidence finally rules the day and the record is set straight, the people who conspired to free a man like Madison Hobley, who was awarded six million dollars by the City after he burned seven people to death, including his wife and infant son, will have to pay the piper.
At that time I believe I and all the outstanding men and women I had the privilege of working with, as well as the Chicago Police Department itself, will be vindicated.
OPS, the city council, prosecutors, a governor, federal prosecutors…where does it end?
The larger, national media is only just beginning to understand exactly what the Ferguson Effect is and how deep are its roots. It will take a long time before they realize that this movement is actually an extension of a revolutionary movement that began in Chicago among the Left in the late 1960s.
It gained in power by moving into the Democratic machine that ruled the city, and then radicalized it, and now wields power on a national scale. The players and strategies honed in Chicago have now been employed throughout the country.
That is what the Ferguson Effect truly is.
Remember “Hands up, don’t shoot?”
It never happened. At least that’s what witnesses at the scene of the shooting, witnesses deemed reliable by authorities, said in their statements, if such evidence even matters anymore.
Nevertheless, the slogan “Hands up, don’t shoot” is now chanted time and time again, a dangerous ascendance of radical ideology over the rules of evidence and democratic process.
The attendant chaos in this Ferguson Effect is exactly the kind of chaos cherished by groups trying to undermine the system, not correct it.
The national media has not yet realized what is at stake in the Ferguson Effect, nor its origins.
It's a long, dark story, one that begins, and possibly ends, in the Crooked City.
Martin Preib is an awarding-winning writer and Chicago Police Officer. His first book, The Wagon and Other Stories From the City, was published by the University of Chicago Press. His second book, Crooked City, chronicles his investigation into Chicago's wrongful conviction movement and played a pivotal role in the release of Alstory Simon from prison last year. Told in the gripping tension of a crime novel, Crooked City paints a dire picture of the movement to release convicted killers from prison. Preib is currently working on a third book about an arson from 1987 on Chicago's south side that killed seven people.
A silence is taking shape in Chicago.
This silence requires a little history.
In the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, several groups radicalized by the Vietnam war, the Civil Rights movement and a profound sympathy with Marxist philosophy, turned to terrorism as a means of initiating a revolution.
Of these groups, the Weather Underground was the most prolific. They set off bombs throughout the country, hoping that these acts of terrorism would spur the domestic chaos they believed necessary to initiate this revolution. They were placed on the FBI’s most wanted list. Members were forced to live underground, using fake names and keeping constantly on the move.
They counted on sympathizers living above ground to fund them and provide assistance.
One of their greatest supporters was the People’s Law Office, a collection of radical attorneys in Chicago, who got their start representing the families of Black Panthers killed in a shootout with police in 1969.
The intimate connection between the Weather Underground and the People’s Law Office comes as quite a surprise to many people in Chicago. Though the PLO is quoted on an almost weekly basis by a collection of journalists in the city, one would have a difficult time finding one article in Chicago’s media chronicling the law firm’s ties to one of the country’s most infamous terrorist organizations, a terrorist organization whose mantra was all about “killing the pigs.”
Despite their high-profile bombings and incendiary rhetoric, few people in the mainstream gave the Weather Underground much legitimacy. As a result, the group faced a sad realization common to many revolutionary groups, particularly Marxist groups.
“The people,” for the most part, wanted nothing to do with them.
This is eventually what happened to the Weather Underground. People became fed up with their bombing and their violence, as well as their philosophy, particularly when people caught a glimpse of just how violent and lawless the group could be. Even many on the political left became disgusted with them.
Todd Gitlin, former president of the Students for Democratic Society and writer:
“They were ready to be mass murderers. This is mass murder we are talking about. They came to this conclusion, which is the conclusion that was come to by all the great killers, whether Hitler or Stalin or Mao, that they have a grand project for the transformation and purification for the world, and in the face of that project ordinary life is dispensable. They joined that tradition. ”
The entire movement seemed to fade away; but the members who didn’t get killed, flee to Cuba, or get life sentences for other crimes, members like founding members Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn who beat their criminal charges on legal technicalities, quietly moved into academia, the law, and the media.
And so they didn’t fade away at all. Rather, they transformed the strategy of their “any means justified” attacks on the system. Specifically, they mastered the arts of public relations and media manipulation and reinvented themselves. They began a thirty-year assault on the criminal justice system, in particular the Chicago Police, lobbing one media and legal bomb after another that claimed the police were a collection of racist torturers who routinely and indifferently framed innocent men.
Bernadine Dorhn ended up at Northwestern University’s Law School, working on wrongful conviction cases.
Once frothing revolutionaries who bombed the home of a judge, nearly killing the judge, his wife, and his son, the former terrorists were now mainstream educators—even buddies with the president, disguising their revolutionary aims in the guise of what they called “civil rights.”
Here is a passage written by a man who experienced as a child their civil rights crusade first hand.
In February 1970, my father, a New York State Supreme Court justice, was presiding over the trial of the so-called “Panther 21,” members of the Black Panther Party indicted in a plot to bomb New York landmarks and department stores. Early on the morning of February 21, as my family slept, three gasoline-filled firebombs exploded at our home on the northern tip of Manhattan, two at the front door and the third tucked neatly under the gas tank of the family car. (Today, of course, we’d call that a car bomb.) A neighbor heard the first two blasts and, with the remains of a snowman I had built a few days earlier, managed to douse the flames beneath the car. That was an act whose courage I fully appreciated only as an adult, an act that doubtless saved multiple lives that night…
For the next 18 months, I went to school in an unmarked police car. My mother, a schoolteacher, had plainclothes detectives waiting in the faculty lounge all day. My brother saved a few bucks because he didn’t have to rent a limo for the senior prom: the NYPD did the driving. We all made the best of the odd new life that had been thrust upon us, but for years, the sound of a fire truck’s siren made my stomach knot and my heart race. In many ways, the enormity of the attempt to kill my entire family didn’t fully hit me until years later, when, a father myself, I was tucking my own nine-year-old John Murtagh into bed.
Wrongful conviction activists have modified their strategies. Now they toss legal and media bombs at one murder case after another, with the same unrelenting aggression their allies once firebombed the homes of judges.
It has worked. Law firms like the PLO have made millions. With that money, they have secured vast political power and celebrity status.
But now a newfound silence has enveloped their movement, a silence taking shape among their key foot soldiers in the media, the ones who played a crucial role in supporting the wrongful conviction theories.
It is a silence emerging from one key mass murder case, the Madison Hobley arson.
The reason these journalists, John Conroy, Eric Zorn, and Steve Mills, are silent is that the Hobley case undermines every tenet of the wrongful conviction movement and shows exactly the malevolence and evil at its core, stripping away the veneer of humanity and higher principle the activists claimed and revealing a sordid willingness to release the most cruel and sociopathic offenders back on society.
It was a strategy that could do more damage, in the long run, than any pipe bombs.
The Madison Hobley murders took place on January 6, 1987. Hobley, angry that his wife would not let him remain with his mistress, decided to start a fire outside his apartment, where his wife and child were sleeping.
Creating what fire investigators called a chimney effect, the fire raged swiftly and intensely throughout the building. Seven people died, including Hobley’s wife and child. Many others were injured jumping from the third floor.
At first, detectives approached Hobley as a witness, wondering how he got out of the fire, but not his family. Hobley’s account did not make much sense, so they asked him to take a lie detector test. He failed it and confessed to the cop giving the test.
He was charged, convicted, and sentenced to death.
Even though Hobley was sent to death row, one of his attorneys, De Paul University Law Professor Andrea Lyon, fought to get Hobley out, creating a narrative that Hobley was tortured into confessing to the crimes. It might seem strange that an attorney would take up such an open-and-shut murder case, but at the time Lyon began fighting for Hobley, the movement to free convicted killers—by any means necessary—was already well under way.
In fact, almost all that was required was that the detectives who worked a case had at one time worked with or under the supervision of police commander Jon Burge, the police official who became the symbol for torture in the Chicago Police Department. One of the tenets of Lyon’s claim, repeated over and over, was that the detectives in the Hobley case had worked with Burge.
Beyond these vague associations to Burge, Lyon and her supporters never truly explained the details of their theory that Hobley was framed by detectives. They never explained how detectives somehow decided to pin the murders on an innocent man, a man who had just lost his wife and child, including such elemental facts as how the detectives communicated their conspiracy amongst themselves when they were scattered all around the city, and how they could be sure their false narrative would stand up to the forensic evidence and witness accounts.
Lyon—who established a reputation among police officers in her years as a public defender for her brashness and strong anti-police bias—was never able to get her claims about Hobley to fly in a court room. Hobley lost all his appeals.
Case closed, right?
No. In Chicago, under the pressure of the wrongful conviction movement, no murder case is ever finished.
In one of the most puzzling and disturbing chapters in Chicago history, Lyon was somehow able to get then Governor George Ryan to pardon Hobley in 2003. Ryan pardoned three other men at the same time, one of whom was represented by the People’s Law Office.
Hobley’s pardon marked the first time convicted killers were exonerated by a governor without any new evidence.
New York Times:
Mr. Hobley, who was convicted of killing his wife, infant child and five others in a 1987 arson, walked out of Pontiac Correctional Center this afternoon, one of four death row inmates that Governor Ryan pardoned three days before the end of his term. Experts said it was the first time in memory that condemned men had been directly pardoned, as opposed to being released through a court proceeding, an extraordinary step Governor Ryan took because, he said, he is convinced of their innocence.
It was a decision that placed the governor in direct conflict with the entire criminal justice system that convicted Hobley.
Governor Ryan’s decision came in the wake of an investigation of Ryan’s administration when he was Secretary of the State for illegally selling licenses, contracts, and leases in a corruption scam that resulted in an 18-count indictment against him under a scandal that became known as Operation Safe Road. Ryan was indicted in 2003 in federal court.
In a bitter, cruel irony, one of the cases tied to his indictment also involved a fire that took the lives of children. It was a traffic accident tied to a motorist who had illegally bought his drivers’ license. The Willis family was driving to Wisconsin in 1994 when their vehicle struck debris that had fallen from a vehicle driven by Ricardo Guzman. The debris punctured the gas tank of the Willis’ vehicle, causing it to catch fire. Six Willis children burned to death.
The image of the Willis’ car set on fire became the symbol for Ryan’s corrupt administration.
In light of the pending criminal case against Ryan, many people wondered aloud about Ryan’s motivation to set Hobley, and other convicted killers, free from prison. They wondered if his newfound passion about the injustice of the death penalty wasn’t aimed at winning political and public support in the wake of his own trial for corruption.
The question burned even brighter when it was announced that Lyon, Hobley’s attorney who had convinced Ryan to free Hobley, would represent Ryan in his own criminal trial.
Even the most stalwart wrongful conviction disciples could not ignore the overwhelming signs of quid pro quo between Lyon and Ryan.
Even Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune:
Lyon bristled at the suggestion of payback and, as I reported, said this was "absolutely not" the case…Appearances, however, remain troubling.
John Conroy, a journalist who worked at the Chicago Reader, wrote extensively about the Hobley case, alleging all kinds of criminal conduct against the investigating detectives, despite the fact that one legal proceeding after another bolstered Hobley’s conviction.
In Conroy’s long-winded analysis of largely irrelevant details about the case—details that had been brought up, and rejected, during Hobley’s trial and his appeals—Conroy ignored one central, unequivocal event in his major, breakthrough article about the arson.
Weeks before the actual arson that took the lives of seven people, two police officers responded to a call of criminal damage to property at a residence. The complainant had taken in Hobley’s wife and child after the wife left Hobley when she learned he was having an affair.
The complainant stated that Hobley had thrown a brick through the window of the residence. While she was talking to the cops, the phone rang. She told the officers that it was likely Hobley calling to make threats again. She asked one of the cops, Glenn Evans, to listen on another phone. Evans did. He heard Hobley threaten to set the woman’s residence on fire.
Conroy’s refusal to mention this arson threat weeks before Hobley actually committed an arson less than a mile away is perhaps one of the most sickening displays of the allegiance between Chicago journalists and the wrongful conviction activists.
The arson threat was a key event that convinced detectives and prosecutors of Hobley’s guilt.
Hobley’s arson threat remained in relative media obscurity, even after he was pardoned by Ryan. De Paul University went on to earn high praise and prestige for exonerating an “innocent” mass murderer.
Well, guess what happened to Conroy after he wrote these articles? Eventually he was laid off from the Chicago Reader. Then he was hired by the Better Government Association where he wrote about the Hobley case some more.
Then he ended up at—lo and behold—DePaul University, teaching investigative reporting at the same university where Andrea Lyon worked when she convinced Ryan to pardon Hobley, the same university where Ryan announced his groundbreaking decision to end the death penalty, the same university that garnered vast praise and celebrity for getting Hobley, a “wrongfully convicted” murderer out of prison, in large part through Conroy’s articles.
What a coincidence.
One wonders what exactly Conroy teaches his students. How to ignore crucial evidence for decades? How not to let any facts get in the way of your story? How to vilify the police? How to build your career by destroying the lives of others, including the family members of murder victims?
It wasn’t just a job at De Paul that Conroy gained from his years of writing wrongful conviction articles, including the ones on Jon Burge and Madison Hobley. He wrote a play based on these cases, My Kind of Town.
A main character in the play is an African American victim of police torture.
What is this character accused of in the play?
An arson that killed several people.
One wonders how many people watching Conroy’s play, which earned widespread praise in reviews, had any idea about what really happened in the Hobley case. One wonders what the public would think of Conroy’s artistic ambitions if they knew his articles helped free a mass murderer.
There is a crucial, deeper question in the Hobley case that goes to the core of the silence now surrounding it.
How did Lyon know Governor Ryan would play ball on the Hobley pardon? How did her office know to even approach Ryan? Where would such a plan to use crooked politicians in such a macabre plan come from?
Well, this is the $64,000 question.
Chicago’s corruption is such that it does not generally allow highly principled public servants to rise to the tops of its institutions. Leaders of Chicago’s institutions are powerbrokers, not public servants. They are not guided primarily by the obligations of their offices. The consequence is that the city has generally played ball with wrongful conviction activists, despite their sordid associations with the likes of the Weather Underground.
To understand how this political backscratching works, one has to look closely at another wrongful conviction exoneration a few years earlier, one that gave life to the Hobley pardon.
Investigations by Crooked City writer Martin Preib and journalist William Crawford, as well as private investigators John Delorto and John Mazzola, into the seminal Anthony Porter exoneration in 1999 for a double murder revealed that the entire basis for Porter’s exoneration was a complete fraud.
Claims that Anthony Porter, convicted of a 1982 double murder, was innocent emerged from Northwestern Professor David Protess and his private investigator Paul Ciolino.
They came forward with a confession by another man, Alstory Simon. With this confession, prosecutors set Porter free from prison and took Simon into custody. Later, Ryan pardoned Porter, amidst a media frenzy. Ryan sang the praises of Protess and Ciolino, saying he was so moved by their “investigation” that it compelled him to end the death penalty.
It also precipitated his decision to then pardon Hobley, and others.
Anthony Porter’s exoneration in 1999 for a double homicide has now been shown by prosecutors, the courts, and the evidence to be a fraud, just as Preib and Crawford had argued.
Last year, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez released Alstory Simon from prison, saying his constitutional rights had been violated by Protess and Ciolino when they coerced a confession from Simon. Then, earlier this year, a judge declared that Simon was innocent.
It was a bombshell announcement, undermining the central case that formed the basis of the wrongful conviction mythology in Chicago.
Governor Ryan, shortly before he himself would go to prison, described the influence of the Porter case in 2003 when he ended the death penalty, citing in particular the work of Tribune reporter Steve Mills:
I never intended to be an activist on this issue. I watched in surprise as freed death row inmate Anthony Porter was released from jail. A free man, he ran into the arms of Northwestern University Professor Dave Protess who poured his heart and soul into proving Porter's innocence with his journalism students.
He was 48 hours away from being wheeled into the execution chamber where the state would kill him.
It would all be so antiseptic and most of us would not have even paused, except that Anthony Porter was innocent of the double murder for which he had been condemned to die.
After Mr. Porter's case there was the report by Chicago Tribune reporters Steve Mills and Ken Armstrong documenting the systemic failures of our capital punishment system. Half of the nearly 300 capital cases in Illinois had been reversed for a new trial or resentencing.
Now that the Porter case has fallen apart, one wonders how it was that Governor Ryan, with all the staff and resources available to him, did not observe the overwhelming evidence of Porter’s guilt and Simon’s innocence and the corruption permeating Northwestern’s investigation into the case.
Equally so, how did Ryan not see it in other cases, like Hobley’s?
And most importantly, one wonders how journalists like Steve Mills “missed” this evidence.
Well, the key to understanding how wrongful conviction attorneys like Lyon could get public officials to do their bidding, despite abundant evidence, in defiance of the law, is rooted in the Porter case as well.
One has to go back to one crucial moment in 1999 when former Cook County State’s Attorney Dick Devine was approached with the “evidence” of Porter’s guilt and Simon’s innocence.
At that time, a fight broke out at the prosecutor’s office over the case. The Chief of the Criminal Division, Thomas Epach, argued to the head of the prosecutor’s office, Dick Devine, that Porter was guilty and should not be released. Epach’s arguments were futile. Devine, bowing to the media pressure, let Porter out and indicted Alstory Simon.
One reason Devine gave in to Northwestern investigators was the constant barrage of articles in the Chicago Tribune, many of them authored by Steve Mills and Eric Zorn, pounding the Porter innocence story.
While it is no excuse for a prosecutor to base his decisions on media pressure, it is also no excuse that reporters and columnists should wield their positions in such an underhanded, duplicitous manner.
But the fact remains that from the moment Devine bowed to the will of wrongful conviction activists like Protess and his Northwestern allies, wrongful conviction attorneys knew three things: They knew they had a collection of journalists willing to go along with their theories without questioning their claims; they knew these journalists would hammer public officials until these officials relented; and they knew that once public officials gave in to their demands, they in effect “owned” these officials, and they could push their demands even further.
When Dick Devine let Porter go free and took Alstory Simon into custody, wrongful conviction attorneys had essentially turned the prosecutor’s office into a co-conspirator, because the prosecutor had heard and chose to ignore strong arguments from the Chief of the Criminal Division that Porter was guilty and Simon was innocent.
It was more than just a crime.
It was the beginning of a revolution.
Turning the prosecutor’s office was nothing less than a coup for the wrongful conviction movement. It was a newfound manner of destroying the legal system, far more effective than crude explosive devices their ideological allies and colleagues set off at police stations and the homes of judges thirty years earlier. And it was a kind of legal bombing that would make them wealthy through the subsequent civil lawsuits against the city, the once near poverty stricken Marxists from the 1970s now making millions through undermining the establishment.
There was also another crucial benefit for the wrongful conviction activists and the journalists in turning the prosecutors. They now had a legal and moral “out” card.
They could blame the prosecutor for freeing the inmates, saying it was the prosecutor’s decision in the end, not the journalists.
That’s exactly what Eric Zorn is doing now:
But advocates and journalists don't convene grand juries to weigh evidence and don't appear in front of judges to recommend sentences. Advocates and journalists didn't put Alstory Simon behind bars and fling open the doors to Anthony Porter's cell, Cook County State's Attorney Dick Devine did.
The wrongful conviction zealots like David Protess played the Cook County Prosecutor like a fiddle.
The whole thing worked like clockwork until Simon was set free last year and the evidence of the criminal conduct by Protess and Ciolino came to light.
Now the three journalists—Conroy, Mills, and Zorn— will never, in any way, follow the evidence of corruption in the Porter case to Hobley’s. It just won’t happen, even though it is the only logical course of inquiry for any legitimate journalist.
The central point is that from the Porter exoneration in 1999 until today, the wrongful conviction activists have steadily and insidiously infiltrated the political system, starting when they manipulated State’s Attorney Dick Devine’s office into releasing Porter.
That infiltration extended into the Governor’s office and beyond, beginning with Ryan and culminating in his decision to free Hobley.
Consider the following:
In the waning moments of his scandal-plagued administration, former Governor Patrick Quinn commuted the 40-year sentence of Howard Morgan, a man convicted on four counts of attempted murder against four police officers. Three of the officers were wounded in a shootout with Morgan in 2005 during a traffic stop. Morgan’s release left prosecutors and police dumbfounded, as they had fought for nine years to see him convicted. His case had been championed by wrongful conviction activists, including David Protess, the same David Protess who had conspired to free Anthony Porter. Like Ryan’s decision to pardon Hobley, Quinn’s decision contradicted the vast evidence of guilt established through two trials of Morgan.
Former Governor Quinn also commuted the sentence of another man, Willie Johnson, convicted of perjury in another wrongful conviction bid. Johnson was represented by wrongful conviction heavyweight Loevy and Loevy. Northwestern University’s Law School was also involved in the case. Johnson came before a judge and recanted his testimony from decades earlier that put two gang members in prison for a double murder. A judge said he didn’t buy Johnson’s recantation. The prosecutor also didn’t believe Johnson, so she charged him with perjury, initiating an uproar among wrongful conviction activists. Nevertheless, Johnson pled guilty and was sentenced to four and half years, but only served a few months when Quinn inexplicably let him out.
Despite the overwhelming evidence of corruption among wrongful conviction law firms, the City of Chicago recently voted unanimously to grant “reparations” to inmates who claimed they were tortured at the hands of Jon Burge and his men as long as four decades ago. This legislation came at the hands of G. Flint Taylor, founding member of the People’s Law Office, the law firm that was aiding Weather Underground terrorists in the 1970s.
Despite clear evidence of illegal conduct while David Protess was a professor at Northwestern, current Cook County Prosecutor Anita Alvarez refused to indict Protess, letting the statute of limitations expire before ever taking action in his cases. This refusal to indict Protess, even though the university itself admitted he lied about his cases, is a clear sign that prosecutors are afraid to go after criminal conduct in the wrongful conviction movement.
The wrongful conviction movement and its sycophant “journalists” may be able to weather the storm in the wake of Alstory Simon being declared innocent and the Porter case imploding. But they cannot weather the Hobley case.
Conroy, Mills, and Zorn are in a tight spot. If the three men continue to defend Hobley’s exoneration, they risk revealing even more their role in such a sick, twisted turn of events. If they finally acknowledge Hobley’s exoneration for the arson was false, like the Porter exoneration, they risk blowing the door wide open on their ties to the entire movement, spanning potentially dozens of cases.
The only choice now, a temporary fix, is silence.
For the cops and prosecutors who have been vilified by them, their silence is a step in the right direction. In it, one can sense a simmering fire in Chicago.
This fire has its own burn pattern, one tying seemingly disconnected events together, from an arson in 1987 to bombs set off in the 1970s.
Sometimes the burn patterns reveal fires so intense, so cruel, and so unjust one could mistake them as emerging right from some distant corner of hell.
But that would be mistake, for the origin of these fires is right here, in the heart of the Crooked City.
Martin Preib is an awarding-winning writer and Chicago Police Officer. His first book, The Wagon and Other Stories From the City, was published by the University of Chicago Press. His second book, Crooked City, chronicles his investigation into Chicago's wrongful conviction movement and played a pivotal role in the release of Alstory Simon from prison last year. Told in the gripping tension of a crime novel, Crooked City paints a dire picture of the movement to release convicted killers from prison. Preib is currently working on a third book about the Madison Hobley case and Jon Burge.
As lawyers for an indicted Chicago Police Commander pore over a large body of evidence that could undermine criminal charges against their client, the question arises whether this commander has been placed in the crosshairs of the city’s wrongful conviction machine.
Commander Glenn Evans was stripped of his police powers last year after he was indicted on charges that in 2013 he put a gun in the mouth of a suspect, gang banger Ricky Williams, and threatened Williams’ life. It was a narrative that took Evans out of the high regard he has enjoyed for cleaning up some of the worst neighborhoods in the city—including political support all the way up to the superintendent and mayor’s office—and put him in the sordid company of cops accused of the worst abuse, like former Commander Jon Burge and his men, cops accused of torturing suspects for decades.
The criminal case against Evans generated a frenzy by the media, particularly those with a history of supporting wrongful conviction claims, like public radio station WBEZ.
The main “evidence” against Evans was revealed by a reporter at the station, Chip Mitchell, who released a state police DNA report that stated Williams' DNA was on Evans’ gun. This report was announced as if it were a sign of Evans’ guilt.
WBEZ and other media outlets then filed Freedom of Information claims on Evans’ work record and listed the history of misconduct complaints against him.
Wrongful conviction lawyers jumped in to vilify Evans even further.
People’s Law Office Attorney G. Flint Taylor, from a WBEZ article:
“He’s one of the worst [excessive-force] repeater cops in the history of the city of Chicago,” Taylor said. “He should be fired.”
Evans, who has enjoyed widespread community support for cleaning up crime and taking a no-nonsense stand on gang members, apparently took no deal. Rather, he decided to go to trial. He then went on the offensive.
His attorney, Laura Morask, maintained that the state police DNA report signified nothing at all, except that Williams and Evans had come into contact with each other, something Evans never denied. There is no proof, she argued, that Evans put his gun in Williams’ mouth.
Then something incredible took place in the case.
As Evans stood his ground and fought the charges, the case began to unravel. Just before trial, the state’s attorney announced that potentially exculpatory evidence emerged from an investigation into the city agency that investigates police misconduct, Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA).
Apparently, there may be misconduct on the part of IPRA investigators in the way they handled the Evans case. IPRA had led the investigation against Evans.
One aspect of the misconduct at IPRA may be the release of the state police DNA report to WBEZ’s Chip Mitchell. Citing reporter’s privilege, Mitchell has not revealed how he got the report. But if IPRA did release the report, it would be an egregious violation of Evans’ due process.
With the announcement of possible wrongdoing at IPRA and the existence of exculpatory evidence, the momentum in the case has shifted to Evans’ favor. There is a palpable sense that a lot of people are nervous about the case.
Now questions abound: What is the exculpatory evidence Evans’ lawyers are now sifting through? Why didn’t IPRA, the media or prosecutors discover it? What will it indicate about the charges against Evans? Are the charges legitimate?
And if there is exculpatory evidence against Evans, why did so many institutions in the city go after him with such a vengeance?
The answer to this question may be tied to more than just the accusations of gang member Ricky Williams, for Evans’ career in the police department is tied intimately to the wrongful conviction movement that took shape in the years he went from patrolman to police commander.
And more and more the case against Evans resembles the pattern of corrupt tactics the wrongful conviction movement employs against the police, tactics that have become known recently through the renewed pressure from journalists, retired detectives, and Crooked City.
It’s a modus operandi that seeks to vilify police, regardless of evidence.
A Little History
To understand why Evans would be targeted by this movement, one has to return to a pivotal year in the city, 1999. At that time, convicted killer Anthony Porter was let out of death row for a double murder after investigators at Northwestern University, including David Protess and his students, and Private Investigator Paul Ciolino framed an innocent man, Alstory Simon, for killings Porter was originally convicted of committing. With this fraudulent confession by Simon, Porter was set free.
Last year, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez set Simon free from prison, saying that Protess and Ciolino violated Simon’s constitutional rights, and earlier this year a judge declared Simon innocent. The entire media machine that once celebrated the release of Porter, the most influential wrongful conviction case in the state’s history, had backed a fraudulent case without ever bothering to look at the evidence.
Porter was the killer all along.
It was a chilling sign of the power the wrongful conviction movement has over the Chicago media, the same Chicago media now going after Evans.
The narrative conjured up by Protess and Ciolino in the Porter case was based on the claim that detectives intentionally framed Porter and ignored evidence against Simon. The media and the prosecutors in 1999 went along with this narrative, a sign of the vast alliance between Chicago’s media and the wrongful conviction activists, many of whom have ensconced themselves in the city’s most prestigious universities.
The problem with this claim about the detectives in the Porter case was that there was never a shred of evidence they framed anyone. The clear facts of the detectives’ investigation proved such a framing was impossible and that Porter was the killer. It didn’t matter. Northwestern could push the false narrative with the support of the media, and so they did, despite the fact that detectives desperately fought to show that Porter was the killer all along. The prosecutor caved in and Porter was set free, a murderer walking around free as a bird.
Then Governor Ryan, like some third act of Shakespeare play, claimed he was so moved by the Porter exoneration that he placed a moratorium on the death penalty. The family members of dozens of killers were shocked and lashed out at the governor.
Now that the Porter case has imploded, a dark shadow is cast over several other wrongful conviction cases that followed in its wake.
Among them is one so chilling, so evil in the possibility that the suspect was, like Porter, fraudulently released, that the wrongful conviction machine dare not let the spotlight fall on it.
And that case is intimately tied to the career of Evans, when Evans was in his first year as a cop in 1986, utterly unaware that a relatively routine criminal damage to property call would alter the course of his life.
Evans and his partner were called to the home of Patricia Phiefer on the south side.
Phiefer showed the officers that an offender had thrown a brick through her window. The woman told the officers she believed the offender was a man named Madison Hobley.
Hobley had thrown the brick through her window because Pheifer was housing Hobley’s wife and child. Hobley’s wife, Anita, had separated from Hobley after she learned Hobley was having an affair.
Hobley—who had no criminal history—was irate about his wife leaving. He demanded that she return home. He had been regularly calling Phiefer’s home and making threats.
Sure enough, while Evans and his partner were writing out their report, the phone rang. Pheifer told the two officers it was likely Hobley calling, making threats again.
Evans picked up a second phone and listened in on the call. He heard Hobley make threats. Evans heard Hobley say he was going to burn down Phiefer’s apartment.
Evans, struck by the intensity of Hobley’s threats, became concerned. He documented the threat of arson in his case report. He also took the trouble to write out a report to his supervisors, letting them know he was concerned that Hobley’s threats of arson were sincere.
The Hobley Arson
Then Evans’ suspicion turned into a living nightmare. Weeks later, in January of 1987, Hobley fulfilled his arson threat by setting fire to the apartment building where he, his wife, and child lived.
Creating what investigators said was a chimney effect, the fire raged quickly and burned Hobley’s wife and his child to death. Five others also died. Some seventeen others were also injured, some with severe burns that required long stays in burn centers and skin grafts, others who suffered with mangled bones and backs from jumping from the third floor of the building to escape the flames.
Evans worked the night of the fire. He saw crime-scene photos of Hobley’s son, Philip, a boy he had met when he completed the case report for criminal damage weeks earlier. The image of Philip’s burned body never left Evans. The threat of arson weeks earlier haunted him.
“I had sons that were approximately his age at that time. After watching what was once a little boy burnt up beyond belief profoundly affected me. It affected me because it could have been my own sons that could have been victimized that way. Any child’s murder profoundly affects me.”
Hobley was convicted and sentenced to death. Then he began hanging out with a group of men on death row who were also arrested in Area 2 on the south side of Chicago, men who began encouraging each other to claim they were tortured by Jon Burge and his men. Hobley joined in, despite the absence of any evidence that he was coerced into confessing.
Harkening back to the Porter case, Hobley was pardoned by former Governor Ryan, pardoned despite the fact that no new evidence emerged indicating Hobley’s innocence. Every legal proceeding bolstered his conviction.
Just as the Porter case revealed the collusion between the wrongful conviction activists and the local media, Ryan’s pardon of Hobley with no new evidence, announced at DePaul University, signaled that the movement also had deep influence over the centers of the state’s political system.
Evans never for a moment believed Hobley was innocent.
“In my opinion Hobley is absolutely guilty, without a doubt. He made a very specific arson threat about his wife and child over a land line with a witness who also heard it. After he made the threat, approximately two months later, less than a mile away, a fire was set that killed his wife and child along with five other people,” Evans said to Crooked City.
Since his experience in the Hobley case, Evans has always been suspicious of the wrongful conviction movement and openly said so. He has long been a critic of law firms like the People’s Law Office, who have made claims of torture and coercion against the cops.
That wasn’t the end of it. Evans stated that he came forward to federal prosecutors and volunteered to testify against Hobley if they pressed charges against him. Those charges never materialized, though they should have, Evans said.
“It was my willingness to testify that engendered the ire and animosity of the anti-conviction crowd supporting Hobley,” Evans said.
When the Myths Fail
Dealing with the possibility that this central wrongful conviction case is a sham, much like Porter’s, is almost unimaginable for the entire city. How can Chicago admit that the entire city facilitated the release of a mass murderer on trumped-up theories of his innocence?
This question causes one to wonder what the real motive is behind Evans’ vilification.
Remember Alstory Simon, the guy Protess and Ciolino framed for the murders that Porter had been convicted of? Remember that Simon was let out of prison last year? Well, his lawyers filed a $40 million lawsuit against Northwestern, Protess, and Ciolino.
That lawsuit could force the city back to the Hobley case.
A central witness in the Hobley case testified under oath that Private Investigator Paul Ciolino, the same Ciolino who framed Simon for the murders, attempted to bribe this witness into changing his testimony against Hobley.
One particularly troubling aspect of this witness’s statement is that it matches the description by witnesses in the Porter case who also said they were bribed by Ciolino.
In short, Simon’s lawsuit threatens to reveal the dark modus operandi at the center of the wrongful conviction movement, leading to other cases, like Hobley’s.
In fact, that modus operandi is becoming clearer every day, even without Simon’s lawsuit taking shape.
One wonders, then, if the intense campaign to charge Evans with crimes, to accuse him of the sort of vicious, hateful treatment of suspects that is employed in most wrongful conviction cases, might not be part of a larger campaign to discredit him, to vilify him.
Absent from the media reports about Evans are his awards for crime fighting, his rescue of officers under fire that won him a Medal of Valor award.
The frenzy with which the entire city went after Evans on such insubstantial evidence, initiated by a gang member, seems to hold a kind desperation. There is also the sense that the entire alliance of players going after Evans, from the media to the wrongful conviction attorneys, to the prosecutor himself, all seemed to assume he would fold.
Perhaps there is a lesson in Evans’ strategy.
In any case, discrediting Evans would be crucial for the wrongful conviction machine.
The Hobley case is no murder in the park, like the Porter case. It is a mass murder involving children and many innocent people. It was a crime scene no responding cop could ever forget and it was a long brutal night going to the morgue, seeing the bodies, interviewing the family members. Detectives had to go to the hospitals. Some of them even watched the firemen carry out the bodies from the building.
Hobley’s innocence is maintained despite the chaos and horror of this crime scene, an almost impossible thing to imagine. It is built on a wrongful conviction narrative even more fragile than the narrative for Anthony Porter’s exoneration, a witless scenario that a group of detectives in the midst of such human suffering were so calloused, so evil that they concocted a fraudulent story against an innocent man. They did so while other detectives were scattered around the city gathering evidence that could easily undermine their trumped up theory. Somehow in an era without cell phones they reached out to all these other detectives and supervisors to get them to join in on their conspiracy, and all of them, without one protesting or refusing, went along with it. The detectives did this against a man they did not know, who had just lost his own wife and child.
And why, why would they risk their reputations, their freedom, their pensions to frame Hobley, whom none of them had ever met before?
All because he was black?
In the end, what is most incredible about so many wrongful conviction claims is that anyone could possibly believe they are true.
Think about it.
What a coincidence for the detectives to learn as they were framing Hobley that he just happened to threaten an arson against his family weeks earlier, a threat documented in a case report.
Talk about dumb luck in a frame-up job.
Or wait a minute. Was Evans’ case report documenting the arson threats also concocted?
Did the detectives write up a false report, give it a false report number, distribute it to the various departments and sneak it into the files there? Did they somehow know about Phiefer housing Hobley’s wife, the exact dates and times, her address, all within hours of the fire?
Did they then get Evans to go along with the frame-up, an officer in his first year on the job, still being trained by his Field Training Officer?
That would be tricky, all based on the claim that the detectives were acting from some racial animus, because Evans is African American.
And how about other details that emerged bolstering the detectives’ frame-up job? Hobley admitted, for example, that after he escaped the fire, in which his child and wife had died, he went to his mother’s apartment.
And what did he do?
He took a bath.
One wonders if there was ever in the vast history of violent crime in Chicago another instance in which a man who had just learned his wife and child had been killed in a fire, went and took a bath.
The fact that a bath far more likely signified he was once again trying to get rid of evidence—like the smell of gasoline residue spilled on his skin—is hardly mentioned by the wrongful conviction activists who fought so hard to free him.
But it certainly must have been a telling detail to the detectives, the prosecutor, the judge, the jury and all the appeals courts that agreed with the guilty verdict.
It’s important to pause a minute and observe one key theme in both the Porter and Hobley cases. Both men based their exoneration claims on false claims of coercion, a sign that already in the 1980s making false claims against the police was common.
Yet the local media, and in particular WBEZ’s coverage of Evans, immediately ran to the record of complaints against Evans in his work history without acknowledging something all cops already know: Offenders routinely make false allegations against the police.
Why wouldn’t they? They’ve gotten out of prison for murders and then been made multi-millionaires for doing so.
Evans was never convicted on any misconduct charges and he enjoyed widespread support from the communities where he worked. But WBEZ and other media outlets jumped right on these complaints in every one of their pieces, never mentioning the vast body of evidence indicating that false accusations against the police are routine.
It Gets Worse
So the Hobley case was bad enough, right? Letting him out was bad enough, but that was the end of it, right?
One of the attorneys who represented Hobley and got him out was a law professor at DePaul University, Andrea Lyon.
After Northwestern freed Porter and other inmates and the school’s narratives of wrongful conviction won massive settlements in civil lawsuits, many other attorneys wanted a piece of the action. Wrongful conviction departments sprang up all over the city. Lyon was a faculty member in one of them. She had fought desperately to get Hobley out of prison, but she had lost every one of her appeals.
A measure of her unbridled zeal to get Hobley out, no matter how insubstantial her arguments were, was Lyon’s attempt to use a gas can police discovered at the scene the day after the fire as if it somehow signified police corruption. Lyon posited one theory after another that the police planted the gas can in an effort to frame Hobley. This claim initiated two years of evidentiary hearings before a judge, who vociferously rejected the claims, with rejections bordering on ridicule.
But it didn’t matter. Riding the hysteria of wrongful conviction that began with the fraudulent Porter exoneration, Lyon met with Governor George Ryan.
In an impassioned speech at Lyon’s DePaul University, Ryan announced he was pardoning Hobley and three other men.
Family members of the victims and the prosecutor, Dick Devine, were shocked. Equally shocked were Evans and every detective who had worked on the case.
From the New York Times:
Watching the live broadcast from her home on Chicago's South Side was Ollie Dodds, whose 34-year-old daughter, Johnnie, was among those killed in the 1987 fire for which Mr. Hobley was convicted.
''I just sat there and cried, I couldn't believe what he was saying,'' Ms. Dodds said, adding that if the governor had lost a daughter in the fire he would not have let Mr. Hobley go free.
Then there was a development so clearly corrupt that even in Chicago it was impossible to ignore.
Andrea Lyon, the attorney who talked Ryan into pardoning Hobley, became an attorney on George Ryan’s own defense team.
That’s right. After Ryan pardoned a mass murderer without any new evidence of this murderer’s innocence, and after the entire criminal justice system bolstered his guilt, Lyon then joined Ryan’s defense team, trying to keep out of prison the governor who sold his office for bribes.
Oh, yeah, she represented Ryan pro bono.
The fact that Lyon represented Ryan for free was a sign of such quid pro quo in a case involving a mass murder that even Tribune columnist Eric Zorn, the virtual public relations spokesman for the wrongful conviction movement, had to point it out:
My [Eric Zorn’s] take, which I explained to her, was that no matter what was in her [Attorney Andrea Lyon’s] heart, her membership on Ryan's pro bono legal team looked like payback-- a return favor, a quid pro quo (my last Latinate phrase today, I promise)-- which in turn made Ryan's actions on the death penalty look like a favor…
Lyon bristled at the suggestion of payback and, as I reported, said this was "absolutely not" the case…
Appearances, however, remain troubling.
The Jon Burge Conviction
Well, that’s the end of the story, right?
That’s the end of the outrages in the Hobley case?
Don’t bet on it.
There’s another sordid chapter. There is always another chapter in Chicago.
The crowning achievement in the wrongful conviction movement was the conviction of former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge, the poster boy by activists in their incessant claims that police are racist torturers. For years and years wrongful conviction advocates, led by the G. Flint Taylor at the People’s Law Office, had been fighting to nail Burge in a criminal case.
Taylor sued Burge twice over allegations of torture and lost both times. The juries didn’t buy his arguments about Burge and his men, just like the jury didn’t buy the claims of Hobley’s innocence.
Undaunted, Taylor pressed on with his claims.
He was able to generate an indictment against Burge on the claim that Burge lied during a civil case when Burge denied ever abusing anyone.
And the civil case in which Burge made this statement?
Jon Burge was convicted in connection with one of the greatest frauds ever perpetuated in Illinois’ history, one in which a mass killer was set free.
How devastating would it be for the wrongful conviction movement, for the entire city that has given it life, were it to be shown that, in order to convict Jon Burge, the city liberated an offender who incinerated his own family?
Things are getting a little anxious these days in Chicago.
The image of a no-nonsense, plain spoken Commander Glenn Evans, whose career is intimately tied to the Hobley arson and all its fallout, telling the truth about the Hobley arson is chilling for the wrongful conviction activists.
Best if he were discredited. Best if he were vilified, lest the truth ever come out in the Crooked City.
For more information about corruption in the wrongful conviction movement, check out the following books…
Martin Preib is a Chicago Police Officer and an award winning writer.
William Crawford is a retired Chicago Tribune journalist and winner of the Pulitzer Prize.
Crawford and Preib have presented their findings about the wrongful conviction movement at universities, libraries, book readings, and literary gatherings, where they garnered excellent reviews. If you are interested in having them speak, please email CrookedCity24@hotmail.com.
It was the worst crime scene many detectives had ever seen. A building had caught fire on the south side of Chicago in January of 1987. Seven people trapped inside died, including a mother and her child on the third floor. More than a dozen other people were seriously injured, some with burns and some with broken bones from jumping out of windows to escape the flames.
There were several ambulances, fire engines everywhere. Neighbors came out with blankets and shoes. Police arrived. Eventually, many of them relocated to the hospitals and the morgue to begin collecting evidence and statements.
In short time, investigators determined the fire was an arson. An unknown offender had poured accelerant outside apartment 301, the dwelling where the woman and her child died. The seven people who died really didn’t have a chance. They died cornered by the flames fast approaching them.
Eventually, police visited the man who was the father/husband of the woman and child who had died together in apartment 301. His name was Madison Hobley. Somehow Hobley had escaped the flames, though his wife and child didn’t. Originally contacted as a potential witness, Hobley’s conflicting statements drew the suspicion of the detectives, who read Hobley his rights and asked him to take a lie detector test, which he failed. Hobley then admitted to the crimes twice, saying he set the fire because his wife would not let Hobley’s mistress live with them in the same household.
Throughout their interactions with Hobley, the detectives were impressed with how little emotion he demonstrated after just losing his own wife and son.
Hobley would be sent to death row, joining a group of men later known as the Death Row 10. These men would claim they were tortured into confessing to their various crimes. Some would get out of prison, including Hobley.
Eventually, Hobley would settle for $6 million with the City of Chicago.
Of all the wrongful conviction cases, Hobley’s was in many ways the most incredible. One day he is convicted of seven murders and is sent to death row, the next he is a multi-millionaire.
The main journalist who took up Hobley’s claims of innocence—the journalist whose influence helped spring Hobley and make him rich—was a reporter from the Chicago Reader, John Conroy. In many ways, Conroy’s articles about Hobley marked the climax of his career.
Before taking up the Hobley case, Conroy had written articles throughout the 1980s and 1990s at the Reader claiming a group of detectives, led by Jon Burge, were a collection of racist thugs. These detectives had, according to Conroy, beaten confessions out of guilty and innocent men alike, even electrocuted them. According to Conroy’s articles, Burge and his men really didn’t care if the man they identified as the perpetrator was guilty or innocent.
Conroy enjoyed a long relationship with wrongful conviction law firms, his articles filled with their quotes and claims about cases. Despite these regular articles at the Reader, Conroy’s articles never resulted in any conviction of Burge or his men. In fact, none of Burge’s men had ever been convicted in a criminal case or lost a civil trial in connection with abuse allegations against them.
That is not to say Conroy’s articles didn’t have a huge impact. His relentless drum beats against Burge and his men eventually pushed the claims against Burge to a hearing in front of the Police Board, a collection of civilians who have the power to hire and fire police officers. At the end of these police board hearings where Conroy’s theories of police torture were given full expression, Burge was fired and two of his men were suspended for 15 months. The two underlings eventually returned to work, but Burge never did.
Burge’s firing provided a legitimacy to the claims of torture against him. It was huge achievement for Conroy and the Chicago Reader.
There was another crucial body of evidence generated against Burge and his men. After Burge’s firing, a special prosecutor was convened. This special prosecutor ultimately published a report on their findings. The report concluded systemic abuse had taken place among Burge’s men, but stated the statute of limitations had run out. Burge and his men could not be indicted, it said.
With Burge’s firing, the special prosecutor’s report, and the claims of dozens of gangbangers and killers, Conroy became an icon in the Chicago journalism community, in particular at the Chicago Reader. He wrote books, gave speeches about police torture.
But what truly gave wings to Conroy’s claims against the police was an event that took place in 1999. That was when Northwestern University’s Innocence Project convinced prosecutors to release convicted killer and death row resident Anthony Porter for a 1982 double murder and indict another man, Alstory Simon, for the same killings. Northwestern Professor David Protess and his Private Investigator, Paul Ciolino, had obtained a bizarre confession from Simon to the two murders originally attributed to Porter. This confession compelled prosecutors to release Porter and convict Simon.
It was a story that garnered international attention, the image of death row inmate Anthony Porter walking free from prison into the embracing arms of David Protess played over and over all over the world.
It also gave greater legitimacy to Conroy’s theory that the Chicago Police were racist thugs, for, though Burge and his men were not involved in the case, Porter’s exoneration was built on the claim that other detectives framed Porter and ignored evidence that Simon was guilty, just as Conroy had argued that Burge and his men in Area 2 framed innocent men.
When Northwestern investigators got Alstory Simon to confess in open court that he committed the murders, and not Anthony Porter, well, Conroy’s myths about the Chicago Police seemed unassailable.
Here, at last, was confirmation in a courtroom of the what Conroy had been arguing all along: that Chicago Police framed innocent men. They were racist. They were willing to torture men. Then they would lie about it. And all the detectives involved in a dirty case, often a dozen of them on one case, would all stick to their lies, no matter what.
The Porter case transformed the Illinois justice system. Former Governor George Ryan stated he was so overwhelmed by the exoneration of Porter that he ordered a moratorium on the death penalty. Then, in the wake of the Porter exoneration, Ryan pardoned several more men.
After the Porter exoneration, the claims of police abuse exploded. Every inmate who watched Anthony Porter walk off death row realized if Porter could get out, so could they. How many other cases were there where police had coerced confessions, gotten the wrong men? Conroy and the other journalists in town were happy to jump in with the answers. It was limitless. Claim after claim of police abuse came forward, claims that cops were beating and framing people as investigations against Burge and his men were taking shape.
In the wake of Porter exoneration, attorneys for other inmates claimed their clients were innocent.
One, incredibly, was Madison Hobley. Hobley’s attorneys, Andrea Lyon, a law professor at DePaul University, and Kurt Feuer from Loevy and Loevy, claimed detectives beat a confession from Hobley. They also maintained detectives planted false evidence at the crime scene and that prosecutors withheld evidence.
Conroy began “investigating” these claims by Hobley and his attorneys.
It was around the time Conroy began investigating the Hobley case that Alstory Simon, the man who “confessed” to the Porter murders, now came forward with a strange tale of his own. He said he was coerced into confessing to the 1982 murders by Northwestern investigator Paul Ciolino and Professor David Protess. He said the men promised him money from movie and book deals for confessing. If he refused, Simon claimed the men said he could get the death penalty for the murders. Simon said he caved in and went along with the plan.
Not one wrongful conviction journalist in the city gave Simon the time of day about his allegations. In fact, not one journalist ever even contacted him.
Fast forward to more than a decade later. Simon finally found some people willing to listen to his story. It was two former ATF agents, now private detectives, John Mizzola and Jim Delorto. Later, retired journalist Bill Crawford would also join them, and then the Conviction Project. These men began to break down the claims of Northwestern about the Porter case. It was a chilling body of evidence they discovered. Clearly, they all concluded, Porter was guilty of the murders and Simon was innocent.
And it was the nature of the evidence that proved Porter’s guilt and Simon’s innocence that was most troubling. The evidence was obvious, right there in the public record of the case and in the facts of the police investigation.
This evidence revealed that the media had never really investigated the Porter murders at all. Instead, the journalists had just echoed the claims of wrongful conviction lawyers without checking the facts. In fact, with just the simplest review, the claims by Northwestern fell completely apart.
One example in particular illuminates this fact.
The detectives in the original Porter murders obtained six witnesses who fingered Porter as the killer. Two of the witnesses were obtained at the crime scene right after the murders. One of them described in detail how Porter raised a pistol and shot the two victims, down to the fact that Porter fired from his left hand.
A second group of witnesses was discovered the following day by the detectives and a prosecutor during a walk through at the crime scene. The statements of this second group matched the first exactly, including the claim that Porter fired from his left hand. The narratives were so identical that it would be impossible for both groups to have accidentally articulated the same story in such detail.
It was instant confirmation to the detectives and the prosecutor that both groups of witnesses were telling the truth and that Porter was the killer. The two groups of witnesses also undermined any ludicrous claims of coercion by the detectives, for the corroborating statements of the witnesses rejected the claim that Porter was innocent or that any witness had been coerced by the detectives.
These two sets of independent witnesses, obtained hours apart, completely obliterated the Northwestern theories about the case. And yet the evidence was right there in the police reports and court transcripts. It was obvious. Nevertheless, the significance of these matching witness statements was never revealed by Northwestern, nor was it mentioned by any of the journalists they had in their back pocket.
To this day, Northwestern investigators have never explained the significance of these independent witnesses in the Porter case.
Clearly, either the journalists never bothered to review the case in the wake of Northwestern allegations, or they were covering up the evidence. Most likely, some journalists never bothered to look, and some covered it up.
All of this brings us back to John Conroy and his Madison Hobley investigation at the Chicago Reader, which was unfolding just after the media completely failed to investigate the Porter exoneration.
One has to ask: Was Conroy’s investigation into the Hobley case crooked in the same manner as the Porter case? Was Conroy willing to overlook key evidence in his coverage of the Hobley case? In other words, is the journalism malfeasance in the Porter exoneration part of a larger pattern of evidence?
Conroy investigated the Hobley case. He wrote the definitive “Hobley is Innocent” article that appeared in the Chicago Reader on May 25, 2000, entitled “This is a Magic Can.” At the time the Chicago Reader published this article, Alstory Simon was serving the first year of his 37-year sentence.
The centerpiece of the Conroy article are the claims of Hobley’s attorneys that a gas can found by detectives at the crime scene the day after the murders vindicated Hobley. This gas can was evidence of a police frame-up, according to the attorneys. The controversy over the gas can eventually led to a long evidentiary review. A judge eventually ruled that there was nothing about the gas can sufficient to overturn Hobley’s conviction.
The long and short of the gas can was this. Detectives returned to the crime scene the day afterward and canvassed the building. They found the can on the second floor of the building in an apartment. They took it, inventoried it and sent it out for fingerprints to see if it was the can Hobley used. The fingerprints came back negative. It may or may not have been the gas can used by Hobley. But it is hardly a crucial factor in the case.
Conroy’s article goes into fine details about the Hobley case, about the gas can, about his arrest, the police investigation, and Hobley’s trial. But just as Northwestern and the media ignored the central, crucial facts of detectives obtaining independent witness statements in the Porter case, Conroy ignores a central event that undermines Hobley’s claims of innocence.
Conroy’s intentional leaving out of this central event is one of the most chilling examples of corruption in the history of Chicago’s media machine.
Here is what happened.
In the course of their investigation, detectives learned that Hobley’s motive to set the fire arose from a love triangle. He had begun an affair with another woman. His wife found out about it and left him. Hobley hatched a bizarre plan in which he tried to convince both his wife and his mistress that they could all live together under one roof. Needless to say, neither his wife nor his mistress took to the idea.
Hobley’s wife moved out, to an apartment of a friend, taking their son with her. Hobley began making threatening phone calls to the apartment, demanding that his wife and child return home. He came to the apartment, banging on the door. Then he threw a brick through the window of the apartment.
The police were called. Two officers completed a case report for criminal damage to property. While the police were on scene, the phone rang. The woman who rented the apartment told police it was probably Hobley making threats. She asked the police to listen to the call on another phone. The police did so.
The two officers heard Hobley tell the woman that if his wife and child didn’t return home, he would set the apartment on fire.
There it was. Hobley threatened an arson against his wife and child weeks before an actual arson murdered his wife and child, an arson he confessed to twice. When the detectives investigating the Hobley arson became aware of this case report and his threats, they were certain that they had the right man. What would be the chances that these threats by Hobley weeks earlier were just a coincidence, particularly given all the other evidence against him?
Of course, any legitimate work of journalism on the case would include a review of this crucial event, right? It would take a lot of explaining in an article to cast doubt on the significance of Hobley threatening to set his wife and son on fire weeks before an actual arson took their lives.
Well, Conroy didn’t attempt to explain it. In his definitive article for the Reader, Conroy never even mentioned this central fact of arson threats by Hobley. Conroy just ignored it, spinning a long narrative of how crooked the detectives were because of some gas can.
It’s hard to overestimate the magnitude of this clearly intentional omission, as crooked and depraved as Northwestern investigators David Protess and Paul Ciolino, along with their media sycophants, never mentioning the significance of two independent groups of witnesses providing identical statements in the Porter case.
It’s a clear sign that when crucial evidence arises vindicating the detectives’ investigations, the activist journalists in Chicago just ignore it.
It is also a sign of just how deep, corrupt and sickening is the relationship between reporters in Chicago and wrongful conviction law firms.
How could any journalist write an article claiming Hobley was innocent and ignore the central, overwhelming event of Hobley revealing that arson was, in fact, in the forefront of his mind in the weeks preceding the inferno that murdered so many people?
One reason Conroy was forced to ignore this evidence was that he couldn’t undermine it. He couldn’t throw much suspicion on it. The officers, after all, who responded to the apartment where Hobley had thrown the brick through the window had no connection to the detectives investigating the arson. Besides, it was the friend of Hobley’s wife who called the police and then asked them to listen to the phone call on another line, so it would be hard to claim that these cops were lying about the threats or that they manufactured them.
The officers were so impressed by Hobley’s threats that they listed the arson threat in the narrative of the case report for the criminal damage. The officer who heard Hobley make the threats perceived the significance of them. He wrote another separate report to his supervisors, letting them know he thought Hobley was a serious danger. And, or course, this officer was right.
Remember how the Anthony Porter case paved the way for Hobley’s exoneration? Remember how Governor Ryan pardoned Porter and then used the Porter case to justify his moratorium on the death penalty and his claims that error and abuse plagued so many wrongful convictions?
Here is Ryan’s own statement:
"How do you prevent another Anthony Porter -- another innocent man or woman from paying the ultimate penalty for a crime he or she did not commit? Today, I cannot answer that question."
Well, a funny thing happened in the last few years. The pressure applied by Delorto, Mizzola, Bill Crawford and the Conviction Project that the Porter case was a fraud eventually compelled Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez to review the case. Last year Alvarez released Alstory Simon from prison, the man Northwestern said was the real killer. In releasing Simon, Alvarez assailed Northwestern investigators, former professor David Protess, his sidekick private investigator Paul Ciolino and an attorney Protess and Ciolino obtained for Simon, Jack Rimland.
Alvarez admitted that the conduct of these three men may very well have been criminal.
From the Tribune:
“The bottom line is the investigation conducted by Protess and private investigator Ciolino as well as the subsequent legal representation of Mr. Simon were so flawed that it's clear the constitutional rights of Mr. Simon were not scrupulously protected as our law requires," said Alvarez, who indicated she would have considered obstruction of justice or witness intimidation charges if the statute of limitations hadn't run out.
Turns out Alstory Simon’s claims of being railroaded by Northwestern and the Chicago media were true.
In the wake of this bombshell announcement by Alvarez, one would think that the journalists who wrote so many stories about the wrongful conviction movement might take a second look at the Porter case. They might see if other cases were similarly corrupted.
Not Conroy. Even though the Conviction Project tried repeatedly to get him and his colleagues to address the fact that Alstory Simon was a wrongful conviction, Conroy would not touch the case. He has not written one word about the Porter fiasco, nor drawn any lines from it to the Hobley case, lines that clearly exist, for likely Hobley would never had been pardoned by Governor Ryan had not Porter been pardoned first, had not the Porter exoneration set a precedent.
It gets worse. Why does it always get worse in Chicago?
Conroy now won’t even talk about his coverage of the Hobley case.
In the wake of the Porter case falling apart and the now growing signs that the Hobley case is also a fraudulent exoneration, Conroy has refused to answer any questions from the Conviction Project, even though he currently teaches investigative reporting at DePaul University.
He will not take any calls, nor respond to any email queries.
One wonders: Why? If Conroy truly believes Hobley is innocent and Conroy can argue it with evidence, wouldn’t he relish the opportunity to refute any criticism? This is, after all, one of the crowning achievements of his career.
Conroy’s not the only one. Hobley’s main attorney, former DePaul law professor, Andrea Lyon, also refuses to speak to the Conviction Project.
The Conviction Project, however, was able to interview the other attorney who worked on the Hobley case, Kurt Feuer.
But Feuer doesn’t clear up any confusion about the Hobley exoneration. Feuer’s comments only add to the absurdity of Hobley’s innocence claims.
When asked, for example, about the arson threats Hobley made weeks before the actual arson, Feuer dismissed them, alleging—what else—the detectives were lying.
“The detectives could have made that up,” Feuer said.
What? The detectives manufactured a false police report about Hobley threatening an arson?
Wrongful conviction theories often move into the absurd, but every now and then their theories even defy the basic laws of physics, the elemental rules of space and time.
It happened in the Porter case. Porter’s attorneys expected the city to settle his case after he was exonerated, but an attorney for the detectives decided to go to trial. All of a sudden, as this trial approached, Porter and his attorneys began to see their million dollar payday slipping away. Porter began panicking. Porter suddenly alleged sixteen years after the murders, right before the civil trial was to begin, that detectives attempted to torture him into confessing. There was one problem, though. The detectives never met Porter in the course of their investigation. They only had a warrant put out for his arrest.
So how did detectives torture a man they did not encounter? This seminal, obvious question was never raised by Chicago journalists, who nevertheless claimed they had thoroughly “investigated” the Porter saga. This clearly false allegation of torture never even attracted their attention.
Feuer’s claim that the detectives made up the case report about Hobley’s arson threats is just as absurd. They are a telling insight into the depraved bias that guides the wrongful conviction imagination, their willingness to make any claim to get offenders out of prison, even offenders who kill seven people.
Think about it for just a moment.
What evil genius of a detective, mired in a vast crime scene of seven dead and 17 wounded, all scattered about at area hospitals or at the morgue, would come up with a plan to create a false case report from several weeks earlier alleging the arson threats and naming Hobley as the author of those threats?
That would mean that in the earliest moments of the arson investigation, the detectives had decided to pin the crime on Hobley, before they even knew who he was. It would mean they somehow got Hobley’s name at the crime scene, somehow contacted one another (this was the era before cell phones), all decided to frame this guy Hobley and agree on a narrative about his involvement when they hadn’t even processed the crime scene evidence yet. How could they be sure the evidence wouldn’t point to another offender and their conspiracy would be exposed?
How did the detectives at the arson crime scene know that Hobley and his wife had split weeks earlier? How did they know she was, in fact, staying at a friend’s apartment? How did they know the whole history of his affair and betrayal of his wife so that they could put it all in their manufactured case report?
But it gets even weirder. A police case report instantly generates a report number from the 911 center. The detectives can’t make one up. The report is then distributed to various departments, depending on the nature of the alleged crime. One copy stays in the district, one goes to headquarters.
If the detectives made up this case report to justify their arrest of Hobley, how did the detectives know the right number to put on it, as the numbers are chronologically derived, and how did they get copies of it distributed throughout the department? All this within one day of the actual arson?
If detectives had manufactured a false case report, it would have been simple to discover and Hobley would have had a legitimate appeal, which he would have likely won.
The manufactured, false case report is totally impossible, a completely ludicrous claim by Feuer. How did the detectives get two patrolmen to go along with the forged case report? How did they know they were working the night Hobley made the threats? How did they know they weren’t on another call? How did they know they would go along with the detectives’ ruse? How did they know Hobley’s wife and the woman who rented the apartment would go along with it? How did the detectives even know this apartment existed?
It’s bad enough that Feuer will still maintain some absurd claim about a key piece of evidence, but it is even more incredible that John Conroy could publish an article about the arson and ignore this central event of Hobley’s arson threats weeks before the actual arson.
It gives one pause.
Conroy’s willingness to ignore this central fact of the Hobley narrative brings to life so many other absurdities in the Hobley innocence claims. Let’s consider one.
Hobley admitted that after the arson he went back to his mother’s apartment and there took a bath. Prosecutors alleged that the purpose of this bath was to wash away any evidence of the arson, including gasoline on Hobley’s body.
Hobley denied this.
But who can imagine that a man who just lost his wife and child in a horrific fire would go and take a bath?
“Man oh man, that’s terrible news about my wife and child dying in that fire. It must have been terrible to slowly burn to death. If any one wants me, Mom, I’ll be in the tub.”
An innocent person would be so overcome with grief that a bath would be the last thing they would ever think of.
A guilty person, on the other hand…
No, Feuer’s dismissal of the Hobley threats being part of a detective conspiracy are ridiculous.
The truth is that the police did file a case report wherein Hobley threatened an arson. The truth is that, weeks later, Hobley did commit that arson that killed so many people. The truth is that Hobley did confess to the detectives. The truth is that the criminal justice system worked when it convicted Hobley and sentenced him to death row, just as it had worked in convicting Porter. Hobley and Porter both did it.
Hobley murdered seven people, including his own child. That’s why every legal proceeding that looked at Hobley’s case determined he was guilty.
Remember the Porter case? Remember how that case led to the exoneration of so many other offenders, including Hobley?
Remember how Alstory Simon was let out of prison at the behest of Cook County Prosecutor Anita Alvarez, who said the actions of Northwestern Professor David Protess and his private investigator Paul Ciolino were likely criminal?
Well, Alstory Simon’s attorneys have filed a $40 million lawsuit against Northwestern, Protess, and Ciolino. In it, they allege a vast pattern of corruption in the wrongful conviction movement, corruption going back decades over several cases, including the Hobley case.
For some reason, none of these instances of alleged corruption in the lawsuit ever found its way into any of Conroy’s articles.
One has to wonder why.
Why isn’t this new evidence forcing a reconsideration of the wrongful conviction narrative?
The reasons are ominous.
In the long history of Conroy’s reporting on the wrongful conviction movement, Jon Burge and his men were never convicted. It was a true thorn in the side of the wrongful conviction journalists, who insisted that Burge should be wasting away in prison.
Hobley eventually provided the basis of that conviction. In two two interrogatories by Burge in a civil lawsuit by Hobley’s lawyers, Burge denied ever abusing anyone. Those statements were ultimately used to obtain an indictment against Burge for perjury and obstruction of justice. Burge was convicted and sent to prison.
It was the conviction Conroy and his wrongful conviction allies always sought. It was the conviction that gave legitimacy to all of Conroy’s career.
But now, with the growing evidence of corruption in the media and the wrongful conviction movement, one has to reconsider the legitimacy of all the so-called evidence against Chicago Police over the last few decades.
Consider, for example, the special prosecutor’s report that concluded there was systemic abuse by Burge and his men.
One wonders if the special prosecutors had known about the corruption in the wrongful conviction movement, the bribed testimony, the obstruction of justice, the violation of constitutional rights, the lying witnesses, the journalistic conspiracy of reporters like Conroy, who refused to address crucial evidence, one wonders in the wake of all this if the special prosecutors would now make the same findings about the Chicago Police that they did so many years ago.
Or would they have called for an indictment not against Burge, but against the wrongful conviction activists?
We’ll never know.
Journalists and activists don’t want to explore the corruption in the movement because the evidence in the Anthony Porter and Madison Hobley exonerations threatens not simply to undermine a few cases, but rather the entire mythology of the movement.
And at the bottom of it is one question they don’t want to face.
Did Chicago journalists, in order to finally convict Jon Burge, do so by liberating a man who incinerated his own family?
Is this journalism in the Crooked City?
Investigative reporters at the once mighty Tribune newspaper are reportedly digging into the Anthony Porter case, a sign the paper may finally be facing the truth that it got the biggest wrongful conviction case in the state's history completely wrong.
Preliminary indications are that investigative reporters may actually be taking a look at more than the just the Porter case. The reporters may review the entire career of disgraced former Professor David Protess at Northwestern's Innocence Project.
If only it were true.
Protess spearheaded several crucial wrongful conviction cases, including Anthony Porter, a career thug who in 1982 gunned down a couple in a park. Not only did Protess and his students free Porter, who was clearly guilty of the murders, they incarcerated an innocent man, Alstory Simon, along the way.
In the last few years, Protess was fired from Northwestern after the school admitted he lied about his investigations. Now prosecutors are reviewing the Porter case after a litany of allegations arose claiming Protess and his Private Investigator Paul Ciolino manipulated evidence.
Critics of the Porter exoneration point out that it could not have taken place without the support of the media. But now the Tribune narrative is crumbling under the weight of new evidence pointing to Porter's guilt and Alstory Simon's innocence.
What will the paper to do? Will investigative reporters truly dig deep into the Protess cases? Could a major metropolitan newspaper finally acknowledge it had one of the biggest wrongful convictions completely wrong? After all, the paper won a Pulitzer Prize in part over his coverage of Porter.
Will the paper apologize to the detectives in the case, who endured six years of condemnation in the media because Tribune journalists never bothered to look at the facts? And then what will happen if the paper does investigate the Porter case? They will inevitably have to ask what other wrongful conviction claims are also false.
Certainly they will then have to take up the Madison Hobley case, an arson in which seven people were killed. Hobley was sent to death row, but was set free, just like Porter.
How deep will it go? How many wrongful conviction claims will fall apart?
Somewhere along the way, the Tribune must account for the 2005 civil trial in which Porter's attorneys tried to sue the city, claiming the detectives framed Porter. The detectives fought for the city to take the case to trial.
The attorney for the detectives, Walter Jones, at first believed Porter was innocent. Then he talked to the detectives and re-investigated the case, concluding that Porter was guilty. Jones walked into the civil trial and argued just that: that the only man who could be guilty of the murders was Porter. Jones and the detectives won and Porter got nothing.
After the trial, reporters asked how it could be Porter didn't get any money. Jones pointed to Porter and said that Porter was the killer.
Furious that Jones could contradict the narrative of Porter's innocence, Tribune columnist Eric Zorn wrote a scathing attack on Jones, even suggesting a lawsuit against Jones for Jones claiming that Porter was guilty.
I asked Jones about Zorn's column.
Eric Zorn missed it. Steven Mills missed it. Mike Miner missed it.
But it's all right there, another bombshell statement in a major wrongful conviction case pointing once again to the fact that a so called wrongfully convicted man was, in fact, guilty of a heinous multiple murder.
As the evidence piles up that Northwestern University's Innocence Project knowingly exonerated a guilty man in a 1982 double homicide, Anthony Porter, and incarcerated the wrong man for the murders, Alstory Simon, more evidence piles up that Madison Hobley, convicted in a 1987 arson that killed seven people, was guilty.
This is a statement from an inmate who knew Hobley. The inmate, Darryl Simms said Hobley admitted to the murders repeatedly. Simms reportedly made these statements to federal investigators.
The arson was a horrendous crime that killed Hobley's wife and son, along with five others. Some 17 others were also injured, many as they tried to escape the burning building. There were accounts of parents tossing their infant children from upper windows.
Hobley was freed after "journalists" like Mills and John Conroy initiated the wrongful conviction playbook against police and prosecutors.
But the truth is that legal inquiry after legal inquiry pointed to Hobley as the offender. Hobley was not only released from prison, he was given $6 million.
Even more troubling is the fact that another central witness in the case claims Hobley's lawyer, Andrea Lyon, and a private investigator, Paul Ciolino, both came to his house and offered him a bribe to change his testimony. Ciolino has faced the same accusations from several other witnesses in other cases, including the Porter case.
Now that the Porter case is falling apart and evidence mounts of malfeasance in other wrongful conviction cases, these activists journalists refuse to admit how badly they blew it.
Two people murdered in the Porter case, seven in the Hobley case.
That's nine murders.
After a trial based on overwhelming evidence against Hobley, including a confession, Hobley was convicted and sentenced to death row.
While on death row, Hobley met other inmates who were claiming torture as a means of getting out of prison. Hobley made the same allegations. Like other inmates, Hobley was pardoned by Governor Ryan, who also placed a moratorium on the death penalty.
In addition to gaining his freedom, Hobley also won a settlement for $6 million from the city. It was, next to the exoneration of Anthony Porter for a double homicide, one of the fantastic turn of events in history of Illinois criminal justice: a man sentenced to death for killing seven people, exonerated, then given $6 million.
The problem is that the case, just like the Anthony Porter case, is full of holes.
One of the most incredible turns in the case came from a man who worked at a gas station and witnessed Hobley buy a can of gas shortly before the arson. This witness, Andre Council, claimed he received a visit from Hobley's attorney, Andrea Lyons, a DePaul University Law School faculty member, and a private investigator named Paul Ciolino. In this meeting, Council claims Lyons and Ciolino offered him a bribe to change his statement.
But one has to ask a central question even before getting into Council's claims. Why would a lawyer and a private investigator visit a central witness at his home? Why wouldn't they just wait for a deposition to ask questions? The visit itself is an ominous event in the case. Who goes and secretly meets with witnesses in cases outside the view of opposing lawyers and stenographers?
Paul Ciolino, the private investigator who visited Council, is a central figure in the Anthony Porter case, a double murder case in which Porter was freed from prison based upon the "evidence" gathered by Ciolino and Professor David Protess at the Innocence Project of Northwestern University. That case is now under fire and being reviewed by prosecutors. In the Porter case, Ciolino has also been accused of offering bribes and coercing testimony.
Then, in the Hobley case, the exact same accusations arise against Cioilino from a completely independent witness. Is a pattern of behavior, a modus operendi, emerging in several key wrongful conviction cases?
Here is the deposition of Council about the alleged bribe by Lyon and Ciolino.
Q. Okay. And did they -- how did you first come in contact with them (Andrea Lyon and Paul Ciolino)? Did they call you first? Did they come to the house? What do you remember?
A. I remember them coming to the house...
Q. And this was at your house.
Q. Okay. So did you invite them in?
A. Yeah, they came in.
Q. And tell me as best you can remember what was said to you by who.
Q. Asked you if you had kids?
A. Well, both of them was talking to me. I don't remember. I just remember little details.
You know, they was telling me that, you know, he didn't do it.
Q. He, meaning who?
A. Madison Hobley. You know, that's the way -- they say Madison Hobley, he wasn't the one who set the fire. The lady was telling me, you know, that I need to concentrate on looking at him as not being guilty, you know, nongui- -- you know, he wasn't guilty. So they was telling me, you know, that this is going to come up again, you know, and that I was going to have to go -- you know, that I think they was appealing this case or something like that?
A. And they were both telling me that, you know, my my -- it was a mantle piece, something like this. My daughter's picture was sitting up there right in front. They was asking me did I have kids, you know
Q. Who was asking that?
A. Both of them was talking to me about it. And they was talking to me about it.
Q. Asked you if you had kids?
A. Right. Well, my daughter and son look just like me. And so they was asking me, you know, what grade, what grade was they in, how old was my kids, and, you know, was they going to college.I said, Yeah, they -- my daughter is older. And well, she's still older, and they was talking about what she going to college for. I told them I didn't know what was she going to do. And they asked me, you know, how would I like to not work anymore. You know, they said that they have ways they could do it. You know, she said she deal with colleges.
A. And he was -- he was telling me the same thing, basically, that they could send my
daughter to college and I wouldn't have to pay for it. And I was like
Q. What do you mean, if you changed your testimony?
A. Exactly. They told --they told me, first of all, he's not guilty. I'm like, first of all, you know, I'm saying this to myself, they didn't know Madison Hobley before this case comes up. You know, I could see if they live right next to him or they knew him, but they didn't know anything about him at all. I'm saying this to myself, not to them.
Q. All right. But in terms of that conversation, you're saying they were telling you that if you changed your testimony -- what did they want you to say? Did they tell you what they wanted you to say?
A. They wanted me to say that I didn't -- that I wasn't -- that I wasn't sure, you know, that, you know, you know, she was -- she was writing down, which I never said this before, but I'm going to say it now. She was writing on a sheet of paper the things that I should say.
Q. Andrea Lyon was?
Q. Did you look at it?
A. No, I didn't look at it. She took it with. I told, you know -- in fact, both of them was mad with me, you know, because, you know, I said, No, I didn't see him set the fire, but this was the guy at the gas station was the first place, at the fire, and on TV, same guy.