Man alleging torture released from prison after 30 years - Fox 2 News Headlines

Stanley Wrice released after serving 30 years for wrongful conviction

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Photo courtesy of the Illinois Department of Corrections. Photo courtesy of the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Stanley Wrice (Left) and daughter Gail Lewis (Right) at the home of Wrice's attorney (Photo courtesy of FOX 32's Craig Wall) Stanley Wrice (Left) and daughter Gail Lewis (Right) at the home of Wrice's attorney (Photo courtesy of FOX 32's Craig Wall)

By M. SPENCER GREEN and DON BABWIN

PONTIAC, Ill. (AP) -- A man who for decades insisted that Chicago police tortured him until he confessed to a rape he did not commit, walked out of an Illinois prison on Wednesday after spending 30 years behind bars.

"It's just an overwhelming feeling of joy, happiness that finally it's over with," 59-year-old Stanley Wrice said, moments after he walked into the arms of his two daughters, attorneys and others who greeted him as he left Pontiac Correctional Center.

Wrice, whose belongings after so long in prison amounted to a small box filled with photographs, legal papers and letters, immediately enjoyed a meal of wings, fries, and a cheeseburger.

He reflected on how his life has changed in the last 24 hours.

"I didn't think this was going to happen this quick," he said. "I thought it'd be after Christmas, it snuck up on me and I'm really enjoying it, every minute of it."

"It's gonna be fun," his daughter Gail Lewis said. "We're gonna enjoy ourselves, we got a lot to do, a Bulls game, and I gotta make my burger cause he wants my burger."

Wrice says his three decades in prison were hard, but he survived because of his Christian faith.

"I always relied on God," Wrice said. "That's why you're gonna hear me say God a lot, because God helped me through all of this, I really believe that. So a lot of time I just depended on him and the peace that he gave me."

Wrice's release from the prison came a day after Cook County Judge Richard Walsh overturned his conviction, saying officers lied about how they had treated Wrice.

The ruling was just the latest development in one of the darkest chapters of Chicago Police Department history, in which officers working under former Lt. Jon Burge were accused of torturing suspects into false confessions and torturing witnesses into falsely implicating people in crimes.

Wrice has insisted for years that he confessed to the 1982 sexual assault after officers beat him in the groin and face. And a witness testified at a hearing Tuesday that he falsely implicated Wrice in the rape after two Chicago police officers under Burge's command tortured him.

Wrice was sentenced to 100 years in prison.

He says there's no time for anger or bitterness now. He's just focusing on his gift of a second chance at life.

For Christmas this year he says he only needs to spend time with his three kids and his six grandchildren who he has never met before.

Wrice joins a number of men who in recent years have been released from prison because they were tortured into confessing at the hands of Burge's men. Dozens of men -- almost all of them black -- have claimed that, starting in the 1970s, Burge and his officers beat or shocked them into confessing to crimes ranging from armed robbery to murder.

In court Tuesday, Wrice testified that two former officers beat him with a flashlight and a 20-inch piece of rubber -- the same weapons, lawyers say, that others have said the two used on them to get them to confess to crimes or implicate others in crimes they did not commit.

The officers refused to testify at Tuesday's hearing, citing their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

No Chicago police officers have been convicted of torturing suspects, but Burge was convicted in 2010 for lying in a civil suit when he said he'd never witnessed or participated in the torture of suspects. He is serving a 4 1/2-year sentence in federal prison for perjury and obstruction of justice. Chicago also has paid out millions of dollars to settle lawsuits in cases related to Burge.

The torture allegations also were a factor in former Illinois Gov. George Ryan's decision to institute a moratorium on the death penalty in 2000. Gov. Pat Quinn abolished the death penalty in 2011.

___

Babwin reported from Chicago.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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