Defense attorney paints ex-Chicago cop accused of lying about torture as an upstanding officer

By Karen Hawkins, AP
Thursday, June 24, 2010

Deliberations begin in Chicago cop torture trial

CHICAGO — A defense attorney on Thursday called those accusing former Chicago police Lt. Jon Burge of torture career criminals and pathological liars and even threw the written testimony of one accuser who died in 2007 in the trash.

Burge has pleaded not guilty to perjury and obstruction of justice charges and is accused of lying in a civil lawsuit that he denied seeing or participating in the torture of suspects in the 1970s and 1980s.

During his two-hour closing argument, defense attorney Rick Beuke told jurors that one of the witnesses, who died in prison, fabricated his allegations against police.

“Somewhere in the darkest, dingiest corner of hell, Andrew Wilson is laughing,” Beuke said. “You had to listen to Andrew Wilson as he choreographed this charade from the grave.”

Wilson, who was convicted of killing two police officers, was among the five witnesses in the trial who alleged Burge and others under his command shocked, burned and beat them into confessions. Beuke threw away Wilson’s written testimony, which was from an earlier case and read into the record during Burge’s trial.

But prosecutors said it was Burge, not their witnesses, who were lying.

“This defendant operated above the law,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney David Weisman, who stood near the jury box and spoke in a voice that was hard to hear at times. “He lied about what happened then and he’s lying now.”

In an approximately one-hour closing, Weisman described Burge as a calculating torturer. He said Burge consistently lied about participating in and witnessing the torture of victims at the Area 2 police station on Chicago’s South Side.

“Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil … that may have worked in Area 2 twenty years ago, but it will not work in this courtroom,” Weisman said.

Beuke countered that the South Side was a better place when Burge and officers under his command were patrolling the streets.

He detailed each accuser’s criminal history and asked jurors to use common sense in carefully weighing the word of who he called “junkies,” ”pathological liars” and “career criminals” against Burge, a decorated former officer and Vietnam veteran.

“Jon Burge is a good man, he was a great police officer, he did his job with pride, with honor,” Beuke said. “He told you the truth. He told you what he did on the streets and what he did not do.”

The jury began deliberating Thursday afternoon, and if convicted, the decorated ex-officer faces up to 45 years in prison.

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